London Trivia: Ringing the changes

On 21 October 1856 the Great Bell cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry was delivered to Palace Yard on a dray pulled by 16 horses taking 18 hours. It was proposed to call this bell ‘Big Ben’ after Sir Benjamin Hall the President of the Board of Works. The 13½ ton bell was pulled 200ft up to the Clock Tower’s belfry, a feat that took 18 hours, 7ft 6in tall and 9ft diameter, it soon cracked giving it the distinctive ring we know today.

On 21 October 1805 the British fleet commanded by Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated a French-Spanish fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar, fatally wounded, was brought back and interned in St. Paul’s Cathedral

There are five prisons in London and four of them were built by the Victorians (Wormwood Scrubs, Wandsworth, Pentonville and Brixton). Brixton is the oldest prison in London still in use

It was Lord Byron’s valet – James Brown – who established Brown’s Hotel in 1837. Agatha Christie’s At Bertram’s Hotel is based on Brown’s Hotel

Mayfair’s most eccentric dentist was Martin von Butchell, when his wife, Mary, died in 1775 he had her embalmed and turned her into a visitor attraction to drum up more business

‘So hour by hour, be thou my guide, that by thy power, no step may slide.’ The words to Big Ben’s chimes known as the Westminster Quarters and is the most common clock chime melody

A blue plaque commemorates the site of the Tabard Inn, immortalised in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, in Talbot Yard, Southwark

The George Inn is a National Trust-owned, medieval pub in Southwark and one of the few Grade I listed public houses in England

For the London 1908 Olympics there was the first purpose-built Olympic swimming pool, at the Paris Olympics of 1900 the competitors had to race through sewage in the River Seine

A spiral escalator was installed in 1907 at Holloway Road station, but linear escalators were favoured for the rest of the network. A small section of the spiral escalator is in the Acton depot

In 1809 as part of a hoax a resident of 54 Berners Street was visited by hundreds of maids requesting jobs and tradesmen delivering goods

Medieval London’s streets moral impurity was underlined by their names: Codpiece Lane, Sluts’ Hole, Cuckold Court, Whores’ Nest, Maiden Lane

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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