THIS is the moment an “iconic” London statue is removed to make way for a regeneration project.
The figure, which used to stand on top of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre in Southwark, was taken away on Tuesday to the devastation of many locals.
The centre, which was one of Europe’s first large indoor malls, is being knocked down to make way for a development of shops, restaurants and a new campus for London College of Communication.
Former local resident Alejandra Rojas, 39, filmed the moment the icon was carted off and said the removal had “taken a piece of her heart with it”.
The video shows the brightly coloured statue strapped to the back of a flatbed truck.
A small crowd has gathered. who begin to film the landmark’s final moments as it is taken away.
Two red London buses can also be seen forming a “guard of honour” as the truck begins to pull off.
Poignant music plays in the background as Alejandra zooms in to get one final look at the statue before it disappears off down the road.
The striking figure was renowned in the area as an icon of working class London, ever since it was first erected in 1965.
The effigy is particularly emblematic of the Latin community, many of whom traded in the former shopping centre.
However, Southwark’s multiculturalism means the figure has ties to many minority communities.
In the late 1990s, it was deemed so symbolic it was chosen as the location for the MacPherson Inquiry, which looked into the Metropolitan police’s botched investigation into Stephen Lawrence’s murder.
A heartbroken Alejandra decided to share the emotional moment on Facebook, posting the video and saying: “Anyone who lived or lives in South London understands the meaning of this elephant to Latinos.”
Speaking today, she explained: “I feel very sad and especially because it represents the Latin community in South London.
“There are many stories that were lived in that place, it was a meeting point to look for work, meet people and have a good time enjoying Latin food.
“The other day my son asked me why I was crying when I saw the elephant being taken away and I replied that they took a piece of the hearts of all the Latin people of the south.”
Her thoughts were echoed by social media users who also expressed their devastation.
One user wrote: “The Elephant has left the Castle. Sad times.”
Another added: “Another landmark gone. Very sad.”
One person wrote: “My heart just broke.”
And one woman said: “Grew up with this. They’re messing up London so much, they’re getting rid of everything, such a shame.”
Several Facebook users claimed the statue was due to be restored.
Alejandra added: “I have heard that the elephant will be restored and will be put back somewhere in Elephant and Castle. I hope that happens.
“He not only represents Latinos, but also all the residences in the area.”
A representative of Elephant & Castle town centre said the statue will be relocated to Castle Square following refurbishment.
The spokeswoman said: “The statue is an emblem for the area and has been for more than five decades. We’d like to reassure the local community we consider the statue to be of huge importance.
“Once it has been refurbished we will ensure it is safely returned to the area and placed in its new home at Castle Square.”