Green hut v green bridge

After spending £37 million of public money without a single shrub being planted, the Garden Bridge Trust has called it a day.

They had hoped to construct a private bridge from Temple Place to the South Bank, which would ease the burden on the two footbridges 100 yards away.

Much criticism has been levelled at historic sight lines giving distant views of St. Paul’s being ruined.

[T]he Garden Bridge was hoping to address this by obscuring the public’s view from Waterloo Bridge of London’s greatest edifice and replace it a chance to see Wren’s masterpiece through foliage at times when the Garden Bridge wasn’t given over to corporate events.

Little mention was made of what was to become of the Cabbies’ Shelter inconveniently positioned on the northern approach, just where the Garden Bridge’s security guards would have had their picturesque hut.

This little wooden cabbies’ shelter had fought off rich and powerful adversaries before.

In the 1960s developers knocked down four ancient streets running down to Temple Place to allow for a hotel to be built presumably so American tourists could see just the sort of roads they had destroyed. When the hotel reached completion the architects were amazed to find that just at the spot they’d planned to put their grand hotel entrance there was a Cabbie’s Green Shelter.

With typical corporate stupidity, they tried to use their financial might to have the shelter removed by the authorities, but they were told that the shelter had been there since 1880 and was staying put.

With the image of their rich American visitors being greeted by a ramshackle old shelter they were forced to beg for its removal. For a price, the shelter was duly moved a few yards down the hill away from the hotel’s lobby.

The green shelter is still there, but the hotel has since closed. Now apartments, with the imaginatively named moniker Arundel Great Court incorporating another ubiquitous new hotel are being constructed, who no doubt, after losing their private pathway to the South Bank, will attempt to remove the Green Shelter eyesore.

London Trivia: Distilling the truth

On 27 August 1990 one of the highest profile court cases of the year was concluded at Southwark Crown Court. Defendants Ernest Saunders, Gerald Ronson, Sir Jack Lyons and Anthony Parnes were convicted of involvement in a conspiracy to drive up the price of shares in Guinness during a 1986 takeover battle for drinks company Distillers. Lyons lost his knighthood and the other were sentenced to jail terms.

On 27 August 1967 Brian Epstein, manager of many groups including The Beatles was found dead at his Belgrave home, from a sleeping pill overdose

In the 18th Century pick-pockets where known as ‘divers’. A prolific London pickpocket was Mary Young, renamed ‘Jenny Diver’ by her gang

Whetstone is named after a whetstone a block of stone used to sharpen knives, a large stone outside the Griffin pub could be the original

On 27 August 1877 at 35 Hill Street, Mayfair co-founder of Rolls-Royce, the car manufacturer, Charles Rolls was born

According to local legend Theydon Bois in Epping Forest was the site of the last stand by Queen Boadicea against the Romans in AD 60

Picturesque Browning’s Pool forming the junction of Regent’s and Grand Union Canals was named Little Venice by Victorian poet Robert Browning

Europe’s first cable car ran up Highgate Hill it operated between 1884 and 1909, which was followed by a second cable line to draw trams up Brixton Hill to Streatham

The ‘New’ Wembley Stadium cost £798 million to build, it’s predecessor cost less than one-thousandth of that at £750,000

The London Passenger Transport Board was nationalised and became the London Transport Executive in 1948

Greenland Dock was renamed in the 18th century when it became the base for the Arctic whaling fleet, it was once twice the current size and one of the largest in the world

A stone obelisk in New Wanstead whose base is a remnant from a Roman road was once an important mile marker stone between Hyde Park and Epping

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.

Down Your Alley: Craven Passage

Leave Trafalgar Square by what is one of London’s shortest streets – Charing Cross – forward into Northumberland Avenue and on the left is Northumberland Street there you will find the popular Sherlock Holmes public house, the subject of the last post.

The pub was previously called the Northumberland Arms, mentioned and in The Hound of the Baskervilles, but in 1957 it took on the ‘Holmes’ theme and changed its name.

[I]t is now a licensed museum of the fictional detective and is absolutely filled with relics of the Arthur Conan Doyle character. To the right of the pub is Craven Passage, which has within it as unusual a pub to be found in the capital.

The passage rose from the property inheritance of William, Earl Craven. He is best remembered for his noble deeds towards the victims of the 1665 Great Plague when he assisted in the arrangements for daily street cleaning and removal of household filth.

He made a tour of the pest-houses, advising the authorities that their size was inadequate to meet the demands for isolation. When there was no response to his recommendations he acquired a piece of land, now occupied by Carnaby Street in Soho, and built an annex to the overcrowded lazaretto (an isolation hospital) already established there, commenting that this pest-house contains ‘but 90 persons which now serve for St Martins, St Clements, St Pauls Covent Garden and St Mary Savoy’. At the end of the epidemic, Craven donated this annexe to the local people ‘in case it should please God that the plague brake out againe.’

Legend has it that sly old William was secretly married to Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia and daughter of James I, with whom he had been carrying on a love affair for most of his life. By the time he got round to proposing, Charles II was on the throne and it seems that when Earl Craven knocked on the King’s door to ask his consent to the marriage it was promptly slammed in his face.

The bargaining then started and the King drove a hard one, consenting to the marriage between his aunt and William Craven upon payment of £50,000.

In 1673 Craven applied for permission to partly rebuild Drury House in Wych Street which subsequently would be renamed Craven House; he proposed to make vast improvements and install all the labour saving devices which he stated would be both ‘ornamental and useful’. As for these ornamental adornments, there is no comment but its usefulness was assured, for his only intention for the refurbished house was to install his wife there.


The Ship and Shovell, a pub of two halves

Walking down Craven Passage you come to The Ship and Shovell, a pub reputed to date back to the 16th century, occupying the site of number two. One theory of its name is said to originate from the workers employed in constructing Victoria Embankment who used to leave their shovels outside the pub. Another is that it takes its name from Rear Admiral Cloudesley Shovell.

Whatever the derivation of its moniker, the Ship and Shovell is London’s only pub in two halves. What this actually means is that there are two pub buildings connected underground by a shared cellar and split by Craven Passage in the middle.

Given the two building nature, you might think it was once two pubs – the Ship and the Shovell which later merged. At one point it was called the Craven Arms and at another just The Ship, whatever is right has been lost in the mists of time.

A flight of steps take Craven Passage beneath the station where, until very recently, coins of all periods and realms could be purchased from the market which occupied the site here.

The Players Theatre has now returned to this ‘tunnel’ after temporarily being re-sited at the Duchess Theatre. It is here that next month The Knowledge gets its premiere.

The Passage emerges into Villiers Street under a psychedelic clock, part of the recently erected modern complex.
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CabbieBlog-cabMuch of the original source material for Down Your Alley has been derived from Ivor Hoole’s GeoCities website. The site is now defunct and it is believed Ivor is no more. Thankfully much of Ivor’s work has been archived by Ian Visits and Phil Gyford.