London in Quotations: Yosefa Loshitzky

London is a hell, where the Moloch of globalization is worshipped through the nightshifts.

Yosefa Loshitzky (b.1952), Screening Strangers: Migration and Diaspora in European Cinema

London Trivia: Planting the first seed

On 7 March 1804, the Royal Horticultural Society was formed by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood. Its first meeting chaired by John Wedgwood was held at Hatchards bookshop in Piccadilly, committed the society to ‘the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture’. The Society’s first garden was in Kensington, from 1818–1822. Wisley is now the society’s oldest garden.

On 7 March 1895 out of work plasterer Frank Taylor from Fountain Road, Tooting murdered his wife, and six of his seven children by slitting their throats

Until 1886 City of London police used rattles not whistles, helmets were strengthened top hats, so could stand on them to look for villans

Dukes Hotel, once part of St. James’s Palace, has knee height locks on doors because the staff used to have to enter and exit whilst bowing

The finest dentures of 19th-century London contained real human teeth, some gleaned from casualties of the Battle of Waterloo

Parliament’s jail was last used in 1880 imprisoning atheist Charles Bradlaugh for refusing taking oath of allegiance to the Queen on a Bible

Douglas Adams based characters of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe on Islington where he lived, Hotblack Desiato was an estate agent

Until recently Londoners consumed a prodigious amount of champagne, by volume they equalled the entire amount exported by France to America

London Fives is a dartboard game with 12 large segments counting down from 505, players standing 9ft away. Henry VIII was said to play it

The term ‘tube’ was first coined in 1890 when the first deep level electric line was commissioned 17 years before the brand name was adopted

When John Noakes climbed Nelson’s Column (removing pigeon poo) for Blue Peter a sound engineer didn’t record the stunt Noakes had to reclimb

On 7 March 1926 the first transatlantic telephone call was made between London and New York, the following year it was available with an initial capacity of one at a time costing $75 for 3 minutes

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.

Test Your Knowledge: March

Ihope you enjoyed February’s questions and even managed to answer a few. This month’s quiz is about firsts in London I’ve posed these questions before so that should give you a fighting chance. 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. What was invented in a workshop in Hatton Garden in the 1880s?
The world’s first machine gun
CORRECT Hiram Maxim was an American who moved to London, opened a workshop in Hatton Garden, near the junction with Clerkenwell Road and eventually became a naturalised Briton and a knight of the realm. His Maxim Gun invented in 1881 was the first fully automatic machine gun. At Shangari River in 1893 Cecil Rhodes’ troops, armed with a Maxim Gun, only lost four men and killed 1,500 natives. Not content with killing native Africans he went on to invent the first auto-resetting mousetrap.
The world’s first tank
WRONG Hiram Maxim was an American who moved to London, opened a workshop in Hatton Garden, near the junction with Clerkenwell Road and eventually became a naturalised Briton and a knight of the realm. His Maxim Gun invented in 1881 was the first fully automatic machine gun. At Shangari River in 1893 Cecil Rhodes’ troops, armed with a Maxim Gun, only lost four men and killed 1,500 natives. Not content with killing native Africans he went on to invent the first auto-resetting mousetrap.
The world’s first flame thrower
WRONG Hiram Maxim was an American who moved to London, opened a workshop in Hatton Garden, near the junction with Clerkenwell Road and eventually became a naturalised Briton and a knight of the realm. His Maxim Gun invented in 1881 was the first fully automatic machine gun. At Shangari River in 1893 Cecil Rhodes’ troops, armed with a Maxim Gun, only lost four men and killed 1,500 natives. Not content with killing native Africans he went on to invent the first auto-resetting mousetrap.
2. What ‘first’ did Colonel Pierpoint admire before he died?
The first pedestrian crossing
WRONG At his expense in 1864 Colonel Pierpoint had London’s first traffic island constructed in St. James’s Street opposite his club in Pall Mall. On its completion, his excitement (and possible inebriation) encouraged him to dash across the road to admire his contribution to society. Alas, he was knocked down and killed by a passing cab.
The world’s first traffic island
CORRECT At his expense in 1864 Colonel Pierpoint had London’s first traffic island constructed in St. James’s Street opposite his club in Pall Mall. On its completion, his excitement (and possible inebriation) encouraged him to dash across the road to admire his contribution to society. Alas, he was knocked down and killed by a passing cab.
The first traffic light
WRONG At his expense in 1864 Colonel Pierpoint had London’s first traffic island constructed in St. James’s Street opposite his club in Pall Mall. On its completion, his excitement (and possible inebriation) encouraged him to dash across the road to admire his contribution to society. Alas, he was knocked down and killed by a passing cab.
3. Coram’s Fields commemorates a London first that revolutionised the world. But what?
Charity
CORRECT In 1739 Captain Thomas Coram, a London merchant was appalled by the number of abandoned babies he saw, he set up the Foundling Hospital, the world’s first charity, Handel and Hogarth were among the benefactors of the world’s first incorporated charity. Coram’s Fields are unique in only allowing adults if accompanied by a child.
Vaccine
WRONG In 1739 Captain Thomas Coram, a London merchant was appalled by the number of abandoned babies he saw, he set up the Foundling Hospital, the world’s first charity, Handel and Hogarth were among the benefactors of the world’s first incorporated charity. Coram’s Fields are unique in only allowing adults if accompanied by a child.
Statistics
WRONG In 1739 Captain Thomas Coram, a London merchant was appalled by the number of abandoned babies he saw, he set up the Foundling Hospital, the world’s first charity, Handel and Hogarth were among the benefactors of the world’s first incorporated charity. Coram’s Fields are unique in only allowing adults if accompanied by a child.
4. On 10th January 1946, the first meeting took place of what international organisation?
World Health Organisation
WRONG The First General Assembly of the United Nations, with 51 nations represented, was held in the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, a successor to the League of Nations, which was thought to have been ineffective in preventing World War II.
Oxfam
WRONG The First General Assembly of the United Nations, with 51 nations represented, was held in the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, a successor to the League of Nations, which was thought to have been ineffective in preventing World War II.
United Nations
CORRECT The First General Assembly of the United Nations, with 51 nations represented, was held in the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, a successor to the League of Nations, which was thought to have been ineffective in preventing World War II.
5. Five years before the last public hanging at Newgate, what was the world’s first when completed?
The first urban underground
CORRECT Opening in 1863, the Metropolitan Railway between Paddington (then called Bishop’s Road) and Farringdon was the world’s first urban underground passenger-carrying railway. Confusingly, the original platform now serves the Hammersmith & City Line.
The first tramline
WRONG Opening in 1863, the Metropolitan Railway between Paddington (then called Bishop’s Road) and Farringdon was the world’s first urban underground passenger-carrying railway. Confusingly, the original platform now serves the Hammersmith & City Line.
The first scheduled bus service
WRONG Opening in 1863, the Metropolitan Railway between Paddington (then called Bishop’s Road) and Farringdon was the world’s first urban underground passenger-carrying railway. Confusingly, the original platform now serves the Hammersmith & City Line.
6. Nearly every country now has one, but Croydon saw the world’s first. But what was it that is now commonplace?
A radio station
WRONG In 1920 the world’s first international airport opened in Croydon, offering flights to Europe. A remodelling 8 years saw the world’s first purpose-built airport terminal and airport hotel.
An international airport
CORRECT In 1920 the world’s first international airport opened in Croydon, offering flights to Europe. A remodelling 8 years saw the world’s first purpose-built airport terminal and airport hotel.
A department store
WRONG In 1920 the world’s first international airport opened in Croydon, offering flights to Europe. A remodelling 8 years saw the world’s first purpose-built airport terminal and airport hotel.
7. Today we take it for granted, but what world’s first was constructed near Holborn Viaduct?
The world’s first water pumping station
WRONG The world’s first public electricity generating station was opened in 1882 to light the lamps on the bridge. Designed by Thomas Edison, it was steam-powered and supplied DC current, and predated New York’s power station by some months.
The world’s first sewage treatment works
WRONG The world’s first public electricity generating station was opened in 1882 to light the lamps on the bridge. Designed by Thomas Edison, it was steam-powered and supplied DC current, and predated New York’s power station by some months.
The world’s first public electricity generating station
CORRECT The world’s first public electricity generating station was opened in 1882 to light the lamps on the bridge. Designed by Thomas Edison, it was steam-powered and supplied DC current, and predated New York’s power station by some months.
8. What invention was first demonstrated in a room above what is now the Bar Italia coffee lounge in Frith Street, Soho?
The espresso coffee machine
WRONG John Logie Baird began his research into the transmission of visual images in Hastings in the early 1920s, but in 1924 rented an attic room at 22 Frith Street to use as a workshop. On 26th January 1926 members of the Royal Institution made up the first television audience. A blue plaque is displayed above Bar Italia commemorating that day.
The vacuum cleaner
WRONG John Logie Baird began his research into the transmission of visual images in Hastings in the early 1920s, but in 1924 rented an attic room at 22 Frith Street to use as a workshop. On 26th January 1926 members of the Royal Institution made up the first television audience. A blue plaque is displayed above Bar Italia commemorating that day.
The television
CORRECT John Logie Baird began his research into the transmission of visual images in Hastings in the early 1920s, but in 1924 rented an attic room at 22 Frith Street to use as a workshop. On 26th January 1926 members of the Royal Institution made up the first television audience. A blue plaque is displayed above Bar Italia commemorating that day.
9. What did Joseph Merlin demonstrate for the first time at a masquerade party in Soho in 1760?
Roller skates
CORRECT Roller skates were first demonstrated at famous society hostess’ Mrs Cornelys Soho Square house by clock and instrument maker John Joseph Merlin. Making an appearance at the party gliding across the floor on boots that he had adapted by fitting them with wheels, unfortunately, he had failed to devise a method of stopping himself and he crashed into a large mirror.
The kaleidoscope
WRONG Roller skates were first demonstrated at famous society hostess’ Mrs Cornelys Soho Square house by clock and instrument maker John Joseph Merlin. Making an appearance at the party gliding across the floor on boots that he had adapted by fitting them with wheels, unfortunately, he had failed to devise a method of stopping himself and he crashed into a large mirror.
The penny-farthing bicycle
WRONG Roller skates were first demonstrated at famous society hostess’ Mrs Cornelys Soho Square house by clock and instrument maker John Joseph Merlin. Making an appearance at the party gliding across the floor on boots that he had adapted by fitting them with wheels, unfortunately, he had failed to devise a method of stopping himself and he crashed into a large mirror.
10. In 1905 two brothers named Stratton were convicted of robbery and murder at a paint shop in Deptford High Street. What methodology was used to secure convictions?
The first identikit portrait from a witness, the local milkman
WRONG On 27th March 1905, Chapman’s Oil and Paint Shop was raided and the shopkeeper murdered. A thumb mark was left on the emptied cash box. Using a method of identification that had been in use for a couple of years, it was the first time the Crown achieved a murder conviction and one of the first in the world to use the methodology still in use today.
The first case in which fingerprints were successfully used to convict
CORRECT On 27th March 1905, Chapman’s Oil and Paint Shop was raided and the shopkeeper murdered. A thumb mark was left on the emptied cash box. Using a method of identification that had been in use for a couple of years, it was the first time the Crown achieved a murder conviction and one of the first in the world to use the methodology still in use today.
Their getaway car, which had an early number plate was identified leading to the police tracking them down
WRONG On 27th March 1905, Chapman’s Oil and Paint Shop was raided and the shopkeeper murdered. A thumb mark was left on the emptied cash box. Using a method of identification that had been in use for a couple of years, it was the first time the Crown achieved a murder conviction and one of the first in the world to use the methodology still in use today.

The India Club

Oh! How we would laugh on The Knowledge, finding two strand hotels situated on Strand (note the absence of the definite article, unlike The Knowledge).

The first hotel, the Strand Palace – 4-star, 785 bedrooms, doorman, concierge service, gym and afternoon tea – with a room rate of £400 a night.

Its namesake, the exotically named Hotel Strand Continental with a tea maker, shared bathroom, twin bed and breakfast thrown in for £37.

Basic, but not bad considering Theatreland is opposite and the Strand Palace at £400 is 150 yards down the road, and curiously the more expensive is currently closed due to coronavirus, while its cheaper brother is still open.

But what we didn’t realise while on The Knowledge was that the Hotel Strand Continental has hidden up a flight of stairs a social and dining club. Founded in 1951 when its founder members included Lady Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru, it still retains its original colonial features with portraits and photographs from India’s independence.

Unlike most London clubs, the India Club is open to all and feels like stepping back 70 years. The very reasonably priced food gets mixed reviews but there are few in such a central location offering this level of service and value.

Now this venerable institution looks to be lost as the building’s owners want to redevelop the hotel.

Marston Properties, the hotel’s owners tried two years ago to revamp the building. Following an outcry, the planning application was refused, due to the “loss of an important cultural and nighttime entertainment use (the India Club restaurant/bar)”. They did then offer to revamp the hotel while retaining “a restaurant” on the second floor but then withdrew that planning application.

Now they are trying to circumvent the planning problem of having an “important cultural venue” as a tenant by evicting that tenant by employing an 80 per cent hike in the rent.

During this pandemic, many landlords are helping to retain their tenants by coming to a compromise over the due fees. Marston Properties, however, are bucking the trend by nearly doubling the rent, if they succeed in evicting the India Club they’ll be able to resubmit their planning application and redevelop the hotel as they wish, and then no doubt increase the room rate.

Images courtesy of the India Club

London in Quotations: Robert Montgomery

But hail thou giant City of the world, / Thou that dost scorn a canopy of clouds, / And in the dimness of eternal smoke, / For ever rising like an ocean-stream, / Dost mantle thine immensity – how vast / And wide thy wonderful array of domes, / In dusky masses staring at the skies!

Robert Montgomery (1807–1855), London, Religion and Poetry: Being Selections Spiritual and Moral

Taxi talk without tipping