London Trivia: A naturalist’s nightmare

On 5 March 1879 a coal porter found a wooden box in the Thames near Barnes Bridge. Inside was the remains of Miss Julia Thomas, murdered by her servant, Kate Webster who then disposed of the body by dismembering it, boiling the flesh off the bones, and throwing most of the remains into the Thames. Found guilty and hanged at Wandsworth Prison. In a twist of fate naturalist David Attenborough during building work found the missing skull of the victim.

On 5 March 1969 the Old Bailey’s most expensive hearing ended after 39-days when Ronnie and Reggie Kray were given 30 years’ for murder

During the Jack the Ripper investigation the police paid £100 for 2 tracker bloodhounds but they got lost and needed the Police to find them

The last wolf in the City of London is commemorated at the spot it was killed, where a wolf’s head forms the waterspout of the Aldgate pump

Fragrance Madeleine was trialled at Piccadilly station in 2001 to make the Tube more pleasant. Stopped after days people said they felt ill

The last male Prime Minister to wear a wedding ring in public was Harold Wilson, in 1976, in fact the last occupant of No 10 to regularly sport a wedding ring was Lady Thatcher

Starting in 1908 with a Perrier sign, it now costs £2 million a year to advertise your firm on a Piccadilly Circus neon sign

The Lamb in Lamb’s Conduit Street had etched glass partitions preventing wealthy drinkers having to watch common men drinking in next bar

On 5 March 1870 the first ever International Football match was England vs Scotland held at The Oval, the first of many England draws 1-1

In 1750 the first umbrella used by Jonas Hanway brought back from Persia. Cabbies fearful they’d lose their wet weather called him a Frenchman

Jack Dee once worked in the Ritz’s kitchen. One night he cooked a doorman dinner, got a 50p tip. Made him realise his life was in a mess

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub off Fleet Street, built in 1667, has a famous resident – a dead parrot named Polly who swore in many languages

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.

2 thoughts on “London Trivia: A naturalist’s nightmare”

  1. A few years back on one of my UK guided tours I made a point of emphasizing the ‘beautiful neon adverts’ flashing away in Piccadilly Circus. We moved on up Shaftesbury Avenue where I stopped just past Denman St. & asked my 12 Guests what the products & companies were advertising in the Circus. To which nobody could remember one of them. I explained that the cost to advertise was about US$2 million [A few years back.] & therefore we concluded that it was a waste of money! Still they look pretty & iconic whatever they are advertising.


    1. In January the lights were turned off for maintenance, the first time since the war. So I tried your little memory test. The only one I could remember was McDonald’s. Does that say something about modern life, or just me? After looking it up I found that Coca-Cola has been advertising in Piccadilly Circus since 1954 and I hadn’t noticed.


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