Jim is more than just a pretty face
We all know the story of the Peruvian bear who sits on the platform at Paddington Station in London.
But you might not know a train stop in Berkshire has its own answer to Paddington Bear.
If you head over to platform five at Slough Station, where the London-bound trains often pull in, you can spot a large glass cabinet housing four-legged friend, Jim.
The stuffed dog of unknown breed, who is yellowy-brown in colour, proudly stands complete with the pouch which made him so famous.
Queen Victoria was on the throne when Jim first arrived at Slough Station, some 50-odd years after it first opened a year before the Great Western Railway from London was completed in 1841.
A placard standing next to the cabinet now housing the noble hound describes how he was quite the novelty to rail passengers in the late 1800s.
“Dog Jim was first brought to this station when he was about three months old,” it reads. “He was like a ball of wool then, and could be carried about in an overcoat pocket.
“The first trick taught him was to get over the stairs of the footbridge, and he learnt it so well that he never once crossed the metals from the time he was brought here to the time of his death.”
That wasn’t the only entertainment he provided either.
“He knew a great many amusing tricks,” reads the plaque. “He would sit up and beg, or lie down and ‘die’; he could make a bow when asked, or stand up on his hind legs.
“He could get up and sit in a chair and look quite at home with a pipe in his mouth and cap on his head.
“He would play leap frog with the boys; he would escort them off the station if told to do so, but would never bite them.
“At a St John’s Ambulance Examination held at this station he laid down on one of the stretched and allowed himself to be bandaged up with the rest of the ‘injured’.”
He even used to take himself off on little day trips, according to the placard, once finding himself in London Paddington and on another occasion in Windsor.
The placard reads: “On one occasion he went to Leamington; that was his longest ride. Another time he got into a train and went to Paddington, but was seen by one of the guards and promptly sent back again.
“Another day he got into a train and was taken to Windsor. The officials saw him, and wanted to put him in the next train home, but he would not agree to that, and walked back through Eton.”
But most importantly, Jim was best known for his charity work.
The placard explains that as the Canine Collector for the Great Western Railway Widows’ and Orphans’ Fund – a role he took up at the young age of just four months – Jim managed to raise around £40 single-handed in his lifetime.
That’s around £3,281.97 in today’s money.
He used to bark every time a coin was placed in his box, and even once received a “piece of gold” as part of his rounds.
The placard reads: “He only once had a piece of gold put in his box – a half sovereign. On several occasions half crowns were found, but the majority of the coins he collected were pennies and halfpennies.
“After a time he was taught to bark whenever he received a coin, which caused a great deal of amusement to his numerous patrons.”
On one occasion in 1886 during a hospital parade, he managed to collect a whopping 265 coins from generous passengers.
The placard reads: “There were only about five pieces of silver, but when it is remembered that he barked for each coin given him, this must be regarded as a good afternoon’s work.”
News from Berkshire Live