Water everywhere and not a drop to drink

Containing an original 1899 Thomas Crapper `valveless water preventor’, its red and black marble urinals adorn the opposite wall, after cleaning your soul above, here one may have a more secular dousing . . . . . . . . . .

Exclusively for Patrons, here is List 2: Run 32 the next ‘run’ from my travelogue Pootling around London: Manor House to Gibson Square, again I hope you find it both amusing and informative.

Thank You again for your support.

Armoury House EC1 to Tower Bridge SE1

It’s not a good idea to ride around London in the dark trying to locate points you may be asked at an appearance, but I can’t resist the temptation, this run is but a short walk from where I’m employed. In the fading light, I check out Wesley’s house, chapel, and museum. The great evangelist and Methodist minister might have given us a refreshing new way to practise our devotions and been instrumental in bringing about the abolition of slavery, but for Londoner’s, his greatest contribution to the civilised world are his toilets.

Walking through the entrance short flight of stairs takes you down to a room unchanged since Victorian times. Carefully manufactured in cedar are eight cubicles each containing an original 1899 Thomas Crapper `valveless water preventor’, red and black marble urinals adorn the opposite wall, after cleaning your soul above, here one may have a more secular dousing. Alas for the ladies their facilities are bog standard modern conveniences.

The last rays of light are disappearing on this winter’s evening, so I’m reluctant to investigate Bunhill Fields opposite, the last resting place of 120,000 souls in an area of only 9,000 sq. ft., needless to say, the ground is considerably higher here than the adjoining pavement. So I won’t be paying my respects to Daniel Defoe or William Blake anytime soon, although I’m thinking of having Jerusalem sung at my funeral.

Armoury House is far less interesting, a guard curbs my curiosity be barring my approach into the hallowed grounds of Armoury House. From the outside, it looks like a Victorian mock medieval castle, rather disappointingly, as it lays claim to a lustrous history. It is the headquarters of the Honourable Artillery Company, oldest military body in the United Kingdom dating back to Henry VIII’s time. Presumably, he needed a bodyguard to protect him from those irritating Catholics.

We’re not here to proverbially, or literally, cross swords with a power-mad guard but ride down City Road, which incidentally, whatever its nomenclature, is outside the City of London.

It’s a short skirt around the back of Liverpool Street Station, upon which the whole world seems to be converging, it’s as if it was a holy shrine. Then down Houndsditch, apparently once just outside the City walls, this road was a ditch and the dumping ground for detritus including dead dogs.

I didn’t know at the time, on Aldgate High Street I would pass ‘the pump of death’ with its elegant brass spout in the form of a wolf’s head marking the spot where the last of these creatures were shot outside the City of London.

Several hundred died as a result of liquid human remains which had seeped into the underground stream from cemeteries, including a plague pit. The pump’s water, appreciated by many for its abundant health-giving mineral salts, and recommended by Whittard’s tea merchants to ‘always get the kettles filled at the Aldgate Pump so that only the purest water was used for tea tasting’.

Passing over Tower Bridge to check out points I come to the fashionable Butler’s Wharf, behind which I find a labyrinth of small warehouses: cinnamon; saffron; cardamon; and caraway. It’s early evening now and these derelict warehouses are in the process of being reinvented into ‘executive’ loft apartments. I can smell their absent contents; it’s as if the walls are trying to speak, saying: “this is not the purpose for which I’m designed”.How your brain thinks
It seems obvious, but the most important piece of kit you will require on The Knowledge – is a map.

The Geographers A-Z (pronounced A-Zed) is the bible for Knowledge of London students and cabbies alike. Easily understood with a road’s importance denoted by its representation of width and colour.

On the day you receive your Badge and Bill (license) you will have managed to get a photograph of this iconic map etched into your brain, but first, spare a thought to how it originated.

You know how it is, you have been invited to a little soirée in Belgravia but you cannot find its location. This is what happened to Phyllis Pearsall one evening in 1935. Even with the most recently published London street map she could find in her hand, a 1919 Ordnance Survey map, and hard though she tried, Pearsall could not find the address of the party.

Pearsall decided that night to devise a more efficient means of helping other people to navigate the labyrinthine London streets, much like you have to on the Knowledge. Working from her bedsit on Horseferry Road she set off early each morning to walk – and catalogue – the streets of the city.

The 30-year-old artist would work 18 hours a day walking around the 3,000 miles of London’s streets. Not only did she map London’s streets she designed and produced the A-Z Street Atlas of London and founded her own company to publish it.

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