London Trivia: Red for danger

On 10 December 1868 the world’s first traffic lights were installed outside the Houses of Parliament. Operated by a policeman they had scarlet-red arms and red and green gas lights for use during nighttime and foggy days, looking much like a railway signal. One night gas escaping into the pillar’s hollow column ignited, killing the policeman operating the device. Traffic lights were put on the back-burner until 1929.

On 10 December 1971 Frank Zappa was hurled from the stage at the Rainbow Theatre by a fan, falling 10ft he walked with a pronounced limp for life

During World War II Diana Milford, then Lady Mosley was locked up in Holloway HMP but in a cottage in the gardens with her husband, Sir Oswald Mosley

London is the greenest city of its size in the world, green space covers almost 47 per cent of Greater London

In December 1817 Captain Bligh from Lambeth was cast adrift from The Bounty by a band of mutineers – his grave is in Lambeth’s Garden Museum

The British Museum’s reading room is where Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital between bouts of getting drunk and asking Friedrich Engels for money

Famously irritable landlord of Coach and Horses, Soho Norman Balon called his memoirs You’re Barred You Bastards: Memoirs of a Soho Publican

The department store that inspired the TV comedy Are You Being Served? was Simpsons of Piccadilly – now the huge Waterstone’s

When Spurs moved to their new ground in 1899 it was almost named Gilpin Park but gradually became known as White Hart Lane

Among the many things Londoners have left on the Tube are a samurai sword, a stuffed puffer fish, a human skull and a coffin

A profitable occupation in London was that of a Lurker who would use their ability to copy another’s handwriting usually to gain favours

MiscFounded in 1826 as London University, University College London was the first university institution in England to be entirely secular

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.

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