London in Quotations: Edward Gibbon

To a lover of books, the shops and sales in London present irresistible temptations.

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)

London Trivia: Deadly smog

On 4 December 1952, a deadly smog created by the smoke soot and sulfur dioxide from factories, cars and coal fires in local homes began to hover over London, which continued for four days, leading to the deaths of at least 4,000 people.

On 4 December 1947 the first Norway spruce was presented to London by way of gratitude for Britain’s support in World War II

Workhouse Rule 15: No person of either sex be allowed to smoke in bed or in any room of the house upon pain of being put in the dungeon 6 hours

London’s biggest private home is Witanhurst, on Highgate West Hill: 65 rooms, including 25 bedrooms, a gym and a library, and plans underground cinema, beauty parlour and car park

The Bethlehem Royal Hospital is world’s oldest institution specialising in mental health was founded in 1247 near Bishopsgate, in 1800 the hospital moved to Lambeth, it now houses the Imperial War Museum

Queen Victoria was offended when a 14-storey tower blocked her view of Houses of Parliament it led to a Bill capping all buildings to 80ft

The ArcelorMittal Orbit, a 115-metre-high (377 ft) sculpture and observation tower in the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London, is Britain’s largest piece of public art

London’s first sandwich bar, Sandy’s, opened in Oxendon Street in 1933, the greater informality of eating soon spread throughout the capital as the culture of fast-food was established

Spurs’ first competitive match was versus St Albans in the London Association Cup in 1885, Spurs won 5-2

Harry Beck’s map was considered too big a departure from the norm, but the public liked it and it became official in 1933

Founded in London in 1670, the Hudson’s Bay Company is the world’s oldest chartered company and Founded in 1694, the Bank of England was the first privately owned national bank in any country

During he 1920s and 1930s Aberdeen based shepherd George Donald would bring his flock down to Hyde Park grazing his sheep to keep grass level

CabbieBlog-cab.gifTrivial Matter: London in 140 characters is taken from the daily Twitter feed @cabbieblog.
A guide to the symbols used here and source material can be found on the Trivial Matter page.

Previously Posted: Memory Men

For those new to CabbieBlog or readers who are slightly forgetful, on Saturdays I’m republishing posts, many going back over a decade. Some will still be very relevant while others have become dated over time. Just think of this post as your weekend paper supplement.

Memory Men (20.10.09)

Memory Men (20.10.09)You have to feel sorry for high achievers like Lord Winston.

They work hard all their lives and reach the top of their respective professions. Then they find themselves sitting down to dinner with a London cabbie, possibly sharing a table on a cruise or at a hotel.

The conversation around the table goes something as follows:

Table Chatterbox: turning to Lord Winston “and what do you do Bob”?

Lord Winston: “Well I am a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, I am also a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Institute of Biology. I also hold honorary doctorates from fourteen universities. In addition to being a British medical doctor and scientist, I’m a television presenter, and sit on the Labour Party benches in the House of Lords.”

Table Chatterbox: stifling a yawn, “Oh, really”. With that, he turns to me. “Do you have an interesting career, Gibson?”

Gibson Square: “Well actually I’m only a London cabbie.”

Table Chatterbox: “Well how interesting, I’ve always wanted to know, just how is it you manage to remember all those roads?”

Just what is the fascination with the Knowledge? I notice you are among the many who have chosen to read this blog on all things cabbie. We are not as well educated as many graduates, and contrary to popular opinion we’re not as erudite as we would like to think ourselves. We are reputed, incorrectly, to have narrow Right Wing views, with a propensity to favour the British National Party.

Yet I have shared a table with a nuclear physicist, a director of Unilever and a National Health Service consultant, but all the other diners want to know is, just how it is that I could have done the Knowledge.

If I was clever enough to remember 11,500 roads in central London plus all the theatres, hospitals, clubs, public buildings and all manner of miscellanea and could then take the shortest route between any two of them, I would have the brains to be a barrister and wouldn’t be pushing a cab around London.

If you are reading this Lord Winston, and you find yourself in CabbieBlog’s vehicle, just to help your self-esteem I’ll donate the fare (with a generous tip) to the charity of your choice.

Got to go now, I’m halfway through reading Blackstone’s Criminal Practice 2010, it’s a riveting read.

Test Your Knowledge: December 2022

In October we counted the ways to cross the Thames, what other facts do you know about traversing London’s waterway? As before the correct answer will turn green when it’s clicked upon and expanded to give more information. The incorrect answers will turn red giving the correct explanation.

1. Can you remember how many ways there were to cross the Thames that was publicly accessible to humans?
49
WRONG A total of 11 routes to cross the Thames on a London Underground line, plus 14 other railway crossings. There are 25 roads and/or footbridges to cross the Thames, plus 5 pedestrian/vehicle tunnels. We have 3 boat and ferry services offering direct routes across the Thames. In addition the cable car between Royal Docks and North Greenwich, whatever they call it this week. The total number of ways to cross the Thames by this count is 59.
59
CORRECT A total of 11 routes to cross the Thames on a London Underground line, plus 14 other railway crossings. There are 25 roads and/or footbridges to cross the Thames, plus 5 pedestrian/vehicle tunnels. We have 3 boat and ferry services offering direct routes across the Thames. In addition the cable car between Royal Docks and North Greenwich, whatever they call it this week. The total number of ways to cross the Thames by this count is 59.
39
WRONG A total of 11 routes to cross the Thames on a London Underground line, plus 14 other railway crossings. There are 25 roads and/or footbridges to cross the Thames, plus 5 pedestrian/vehicle tunnels. We have 3 boat and ferry services offering direct routes across the Thames. In addition the cable car between Royal Docks and North Greenwich, whatever they call it this week. The total number of ways to cross the Thames by this count is 59.
2. On 30th December 1952 Albert Gunter made the newspapers for his unusual river crossing. Why?
He was the first to paraglide across the Thames
WRONG On the 30th December 1952, Albert Gunter was travelling north over Tower Bridge when it started to open, he accelerated and successfully jumped the bridge with only one injury, the bus conductor broke his leg. Albert was awarded £10 and a day off work for his quick thinking.
He jumped Tower Bridge while driving a bus
CORRECT On the 30th December 1952, Albert Gunter was travelling north over Tower Bridge when it started to open, he accelerated and successfully jumped the bridge with only one injury, the bus conductor broke his leg. Albert was awarded £10 and a day off work for his quick thinking.
He walked on a tightrope between Tower Bridge’s towers
WRONG On the 30th December 1952, Albert Gunter was travelling north over Tower Bridge when it started to open, he accelerated and successfully jumped the bridge with only one injury, the bus conductor broke his leg. Albert was awarded £10 and a day off work for his quick thinking.
3. What have John Burns, Ernest Bevin and James Newman to do with crossing the Thames?
They’re the names of three 1963-built Woolwich ferries
CORRECT The Ernest Bevin, John Burns and James Newman ferries, named after local politicians, have been chugging vehicles across the Thames to and from Woolwich for more than 50 years. The old sea dogs made their last trip on 5th October 2018.
They’re politicians who opened a tunnel under the Thames on the Jubilee Line
WRONG The Ernest Bevin, John Burns and James Newman ferries, named after local politicians, have been chugging vehicles across the Thames to and from Woolwich for more than 50 years. The old sea dogs made their last trip on 5th October 2018.
They’re captains of Uber Boats by Thames Clippers
WRONG The Ernest Bevin, John Burns and James Newman ferries, named after local politicians, have been chugging vehicles across the Thames to and from Woolwich for more than 50 years. The old sea dogs made their last trip on 5th October 2018.
4. A notice on Albert Bridge commands soldiers to do what?
Stop marching
CORRECT The notice reads: All troops must break step when marching over this bridge. In 1831 the Broughton Suspension Bridge collapsed as a troop of 74 men marched across. Investigations put this down to the effects of mechanical resonance and the army issued an order that troops should ‘break step’ when crossing a bridge.
Stop whistling
WRONG The notice reads: All troops must break step when marching over this bridge. In 1831 the Broughton Suspension Bridge collapsed as a troop of 74 men marched across. Investigations put this down to the effects of mechanical resonance and the army issued an order that troops should ‘break step’ when crossing a bridge.
Stop crossing
WRONG The notice reads: All troops must break step when marching over this bridge. In 1831 the Broughton Suspension Bridge collapsed as a troop of 74 men marched across. Investigations put this down to the effects of mechanical resonance and the army issued an order that troops should ‘break step’ when crossing a bridge.
5. Which bridge carries the A3 over the Thames?
London Bridge
CORRECT The A3, known as the Portsmouth Road is a major road connecting the City of London and Portsmouth via London Bridge, passing close to Kingston upon Thames, Guildford, Haslemere and Petersfield.
Blackfriars Bridge
WRONG The A3, known as the Portsmouth Road is a major road connecting the City of London and Portsmouth via London Bridge, passing close to Kingston upon Thames, Guildford, Haslemere and Petersfield.
Westminster Bridge
WRONG The A3, known as the Portsmouth Road is a major road connecting the City of London and Portsmouth via London Bridge, passing close to Kingston upon Thames, Guildford, Haslemere and Petersfield.
6. Why are there said to be sharp bends at each end of the Rotherhithe Tunnel?
Built to avoid plague pits
WRONG An urban myth is that the bends were installed to prevent horses from seeing daylight at the end of the tunnel too early, which might make them bolt for the exit.
To stop horses bolting for the exit
CORRECT An urban myth is that the bends were installed to prevent horses from seeing daylight at the end of the tunnel too early, which might make them bolt for the exit.
To slow traffic
WRONG An urban myth is that the bends were installed to prevent horses from seeing daylight at the end of the tunnel too early, which might make them bolt for the exit.
7. Which tunnel is longer to walk?
Woolwich Tunnel
WRONG Designed by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, the Rotherhithe Tunnel was constructed using both a tunnelling ‘shield’ and the ‘cut and cover’ method, at 4,860 feet in length is four times longer than Greenwich Tunnel.
Greenwich Tunnel
WRONG Designed by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, the Rotherhithe Tunnel was constructed using both a tunnelling ‘shield’ and the ‘cut and cover’ method, at 4,860 feet in length is four times longer than Greenwich Tunnel.
Rotherhithe Tunnel
CORRECT Designed by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, the Rotherhithe Tunnel was constructed using both a tunnelling ‘shield’ and the ‘cut and cover’ method, at 4,860 feet in length is four times longer than Greenwich Tunnel.
8. Whose motorcade was accidentally split in two when Tower Bridge’s bascules opened in May 1997?
His Holiness Pope John Paul II
WRONG When President Clinton was returning late and behind schedule to the American Embassy from lunch with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a restaurant on the banks of the Thames, to the horror of his forward security detail who had already crossed the Tower Bridge and cleared traffic for the President’s safe journey, the bridge suddenly opened behind them for a yacht called Gladys which passed beneath on the exact scheduled time previously agreed to by the Embassy.
French President Jacques Chirac
WRONG When President Clinton was returning late and behind schedule to the American Embassy from lunch with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a restaurant on the banks of the Thames, to the horror of his forward security detail who had already crossed the Tower Bridge and cleared traffic for the President’s safe journey, the bridge suddenly opened behind them for a yacht called Gladys which passed beneath on the exact scheduled time previously agreed to by the Embassy.
President Bill Clinton
CORRECT When President Clinton was returning late and behind schedule to the American Embassy from lunch with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a restaurant on the banks of the Thames, to the horror of his forward security detail who had already crossed the Tower Bridge and cleared traffic for the President’s safe journey, the bridge suddenly opened behind them for a yacht called Gladys which passed beneath on the exact scheduled time previously agreed to by the Embassy.
9. What is the surname of the father-son team who built the first tunnel under the Thames, which opened in 1843 and now carries trains between Wapping and Rotherhithe?
Brunel
CORRECT Built between 1825 and 1843 by Marc Brunel and his son Isambard using the tunnel shield, was originally designed for horse-drawn carriages, but was mainly used by pedestrians and became a tourist attraction. In 1869 it was converted into a railway tunnel which, since 2010, is part of the London Overground Railway Network.
Rennie
WRONG Built between 1825 and 1843 by Marc Brunel and his son Isambard using the tunnel shield, was originally designed for horse-drawn carriages, but was mainly used by pedestrians and became a tourist attraction. In 1869 it was converted into a railway tunnel which, since 2010, is part of the London Overground Railway Network.
Locke
WRONG Built between 1825 and 1843 by Marc Brunel and his son Isambard using the tunnel shield, was originally designed for horse-drawn carriages, but was mainly used by pedestrians and became a tourist attraction. In 1869 it was converted into a railway tunnel which, since 2010, is part of the London Overground Railway Network.
10. How many times does the Jubilee Line pass under the Thames?
3
WRONG The Jubilee line crosses beneath the Thames an impressive four times within nine stops: between Westminster and Waterloo; Canada Water and Canary Wharf; Canary Wharf and North Greenwich; and North Greenwich and Canning Town.
4
CORRECT The Jubilee line crosses beneath the Thames an impressive four times within nine stops: between Westminster and Waterloo; Canada Water and Canary Wharf; Canary Wharf and North Greenwich; and North Greenwich and Canning Town.
2
WRONG The Jubilee line crosses beneath the Thames an impressive four times within nine stops: between Westminster and Waterloo; Canada Water and Canary Wharf; Canary Wharf and North Greenwich; and North Greenwich and Canning Town.

Effluvia

We just learned a new word: Effluvia: ‘an unpleasant or harmful odour or discharge’. Homes across London remain at risk of being flooded by effluvia as a result of the capital’s Victorian sewage system and heavy rainfall. The London Flood Review concluded current infrastructure is unfit for purpose, especially in extreme weather. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Taxi Talk Without Tipping