London Trivia: Beer flood

On 17 October 1814, on the site of the Dominion Theatre a huge vat at the brewery of Manx & Co., containing 135,000 gallons of beer, ruptured. A domino effect caused over 3 million gallons to gush out destroying property and killing seven.

On 17 October 2008 in Hammersmith John Lynch (Prince Albert) was announced the world’s most pierced senior citizen with 241 piercings

In 2005 drug-crazed squirrels eagerly dug up and ate the secreted stash of crack cocaine buried in garden flower beds by a dealer to avoid being caught by police in Brixton

One of the first houses in England to be lit by electricity was that of scientist Sir William Crookes at 7 Kensington Park Gardens

Seven people have died by falling off the Monument to the Great Fire of London before the safety rail was built, curiously the majority were bakers

Had Hitler won World War II he planned to transport Nelson’s Column to Berlin as he believed it was a symbol of British naval supremacy

It was in Room 507 at the Hotel Samarkand, 22 Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill that Jimi Hendrix died of a drugs overdose in September 1970

Brixton Market was the first market in London to have electric lighting and stands, as a result, Electric Avenue

In the 16th century Elizabeth I decreed that, ‘no foteballe (football) play to be used or suffered within the City of London’

Arsenal tube station was originally Gillespie Road renamed when the club moved North. It is the only station named after a football team

As well as ferrying passengers from A to B, Watermen would pull bodies from the Thames, landing them at Southwark

The Queen has nine Royal thrones – One at the House of Lords, two at Westminster Abbey, and six in the throne room at Buckingham Palace

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.

The world’s most luxurious cab

Occasionally here at CabbieBlog, we bring interesting cab conversations. Situated on St. John’s Wood roundabout, and passed by thousands of cabbies every day, Clive Sutton has produced the ultimate cab. Dubbed the world’s most luxurious black cab, the Sutton VIP LEVC Taxi starts at £104,680, with the fully-loaded vehicle costing £121,480.

Fitted out to your specifications, among those offered include automatic push-button door closing mechanisms used by Rolls-Royce, leather-clad reclining seats, a drinks fridge, sunroof with blinds, 20″ TV screen, electric footrests, ambient multi-colour mood lighting and for London’s inclement weather – matching umbrellas.

Now, where’s my wallet . . .

Johnson’s London Dictionary: Millennium Bridge

MILLENNIUM BRIDGE (n.) Structure which doth enable those traversing The River a sense of being fuddled without the inconvenience of entering a hostelry

Dr. Johnson’s London Dictionary for publick consumption in the twenty-first century avail yourself on Twitter @JohnsonsLondon

Counting the cost

In 1891 Wilhelm Bruhn invented the taximeter, this at a stroke gave the vehicle its now common appellation, and made travelling by taxi, whether as a passenger or driver, a lot less stressful.

Anyone who has taken a taxi without a meter knows the scenario, either you negotiate the fare before starting the journey or argue the cost when arriving at the destination.

I’ve experienced the agreed fare doubling during a journey in Egypt, or whilst in Capri, the meter adorning the dashboard without being activated.
Seventy years before Herr Bruhn brought his clever device to London’s streets Mr Quaife solved the problem by producing a list of fares in a handy book.

According to Sean Farrell in his extensive cabbie history: Abstracts of Black Cab Lore

By 1828 there were reported to be six men and one woman, all having the name Quaife, working at the Hackney Coach Office…at least James [Quaife] was industrious. In 1821 he published, under the authority of the Hackney Coach Commissioners, The Hackney Coach Directory, which he claimed had 18,000 distinct fares.

The book’s compilation was made easier than it would be today, as cabs could only pick up at the 84 designated ranks, so all calculations start from these places.

Later the 1853 Hackney Carriages Act stipulated that every driver was to carry a book of fares which had to be produced when asked for by the passenger.

So how do the Georgian prices stand up to today’s metered fares?

I’ve used the RPI cumulative inflation rate taken from at 5/- (25p) equalling £21.79. The website’s labour conversation value, showing how far one’s wages’ buying power went at the time, gives a rather different £223.20 conversation of five shillings at today’s prices.

Obviously, I haven’t driven these distances with the meter running and with the cab devoid of passengers. Instead, I’ve lazily used the website and based it on tariff 1 (daytime) rates.

1821 Berkeley Street to Penton Street (site of the old Public Carriage Office) 3s 6d (£15.25)
2021 Black Cab £12.50

1821 Aldgate to Jack Straws Castle 8s 0d (£34.86)
2021 Black Cab £27.60

1821 Bridge Street, Blackfriars to Shoreditch Workhouse, Kingsland Road 3s 0d (£13.07)
2021 Black Cab £13.10

So there you have it, today’s fares are not much different than 200 years ago.

London in Quotations: Charles Ritchie

Living in London is like being an inmate of a reformatory school. Everywhere you turn you run into some regulation designed for your own protection. The Government is like the School Matron with her keys jangling at her waist. She orders you about, good-humouredly enough, but all the same, in no uncertain terms.

Charles Ritchie (1906-1955), The Siren Years: A Canadian Diplomat Abroad 1937-1945

Taxi Talk Without Tipping

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