Maggie Blake’s Cause

Maggie Blake’s Cause is a small alleyway connecting the Victorian cobblestoned Shad Thames with the riverfront alongside Butler’s Wharf.

So who was Maggie Blake and what, or when, was her cause?

Butler’s Wharf was a large Victorian warehouse complex built in the early 1870s, so successful at the time it earned the sobriquet: London’s Larder. I can remember the area, before gentrification, still smelling of the spices stored in its warehouses.

Containerisation and the development of large, deep-water docks downriver at Tilbury spelt the end of London’s wharves and warehouses, including those at Butler’s Wharf. The last cargo ship sailed away from Butler’s Wharf in 1972.

The warehouses became empty and partly derelict until Sir Terence Conran and his backers won planning permission in 1981 to redevelop them into restaurants and apartments by the London Docklands Development Corporation, with their plans sealing off the riverside frontage, making more space for their restaurants.

As with all these developments for the rich exclusivity was demanded.

Enter Maggie Blake a local community activist who, together with other Bermondsey residents, successfully campaigned to retain access to the riverfront for both locals and visitors.

There is one oddity though, early documents call it Maggie Blake’s Causeway, while today it seems to have dropped the ‘way’.

In a way, that makes the causeway better named, as it was the cause that she fought for.

Featured Image: The Thames Path near Butler’s Wharf Pier by Tim Heaton (CC BY-SA 2.0). This part of the Path’s access to the Thames was made possible by Maggie Blake and other local residents: Developers of the derelict warehouses along Butler’s Wharf “… wanted to limit riverfront access to the owners, occupiers and guests of Butler’s Wharf [new] restaurants and apartments. Maggie Blake and her supporters thought otherwise. They fought a spirited and eventually successful campaign which saved the historic riverfront and its wonderful views of Tower Bridge for ordinary folk”.

Maggie Blake’s Cause by Steve Daniels (CC BY-SA 2.0). Alley that connects Shad Thames with the waterfront. Maggie Blake, along with other activists wanted to ensure that local people and the general public could walk freely along the south bank of the Thames.

 

Johnson’s London Dictionary: Mini-Cab

MINI-CAB (n.) A Sedan with oriental provenance of indeterminate age used to convey the Inebriated by its Driver whose paucity of English is matched only by his geographical knowledge

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

One of a kind

You know how it is, ordering something online and when ready to enter your address you are invited by the algorithm to start typing.

Now if you live in High Street or Park Road you will have to type much of your address before being able to ‘click’ on your order’s correct destination. For you it’s better to give your postcode, that way there’s only a couple of dozen sharing that six- or seven-digit number.

But here’s a little window on my world, my street has a unique name commemorating if anyone needed reminding, that the second queen to Henry IV died here in 1437. So within five keystrokes, my address pops up. With 360 miles comprising 60,000 streets, surely London must have many similarly uniquely named thoroughfares.

First I tried London’s shortest named street – Hide. Yes! That was unique, nowhere in the UK is there a Hide; Hide Street, Hide Road even the definite article – The Hide.

At the other end of the road-naming scale is St. Martin-in-the-Field Church Path. No prizes for guessing how many of those are to be found in Britain.

What about London’s shortest street – Kirk Street at 50ft long? Here 28 are to be found of various lengths in the UK. London’s longest road at 7.45 miles is Green Lanes, curiously only 8 are to be found, despite its rather seemingly common name. Next, I tried London’s longest street, which is Rotherhithe Street at 1.5 miles in a wide arc just south of the Thames, that one was satisfyingly unique.

The oldest house to found in the City is medieval, having survived the Great Fire of London, and situated in the wonderfully named Cloth Fair, surely fairs of all kinds have taken place in Britain. Nope, just one.

As streets go, at 15 inches wide you have to give it to Brydges Place for the title of London’s narrowest, and the only one of any width, to be found in the UK.

Other unusually named unique streets are:

Crutched Friars, EC3; Bleeding Heart Yard, EC1; Shoulder of Mutton Alley, E14; Hanging Sword Alley, EC4; Trump Street, EC2; St. Mary Axe, EC3; French Ordinary Court, EC3; Wardrobe Place, EC4

And obviously Maggie Blake’s Cause, a short alley near Tower Bridge, is unique.

London in Quotations: T. S. Eliot

Unreal City, / Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, / A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, / I had not thought death had undone so many. / Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled, / And each man fixed his eyes before his feet. / Flowed up the hill and down King William Street, / To where St Mary Woolnoth kept the hours / With a dead sound on the final stock of nine.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), The Waste Land

London Trivia: Disinherited for a generation

On 12 September 1846 Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett were secretly married at St. Marylebone Parish Church, Elizabeth’s furious father disinherited her and disinherited all his children who married.

On 12 September 1878 Cleopatra’s Needle was installed on the Embankment, after nearly being lost at sea

In his novel Moll Flanders Daniel Defoe described Newgate Prison as “that horrible place”, he should know he was imprisoned there in 1703

The circumference at the Gherkin’s widest point is 178 metres, which is only two metres less than its height of 180 metres

In 1926 suicide pits installed due to passengers throwing themselves in front of trains only Jubilee line has glass screens to deter jumpers

In Parliament in 1981 a private member’s bill (Control of Space Invaders (& other Electronic Games) Bill) tried to ban Space Invaders

The wedding in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral was filmed at the Augustinian priory church of St. Bartholomew the Great

The first HMV store at 363 Oxford Street was opened by composer Edward Elgar in 1921. HMV stands for ‘His Master’s Voice’

Boxing legend Sir Henry Cooper trained in the gym above the Thomas a Becket pub previously at 320 Old Kent Road, Walworth

The Underground’s longest journey without change is on the Central line from West Ruislip to Epping – a total of 34.1 miles

Prostitutes around Southwark worked in the many brothels or ‘stews’ licensed by the Bishop of Winchester and were known as the Bishop’s Geese

Wildlife observed on the Tube network includes woodpeckers, deer, sparrowhawk, bats, grass snakes, great crested newts, slow worms

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.

Taxi Talk Without Tipping

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