London Firsts Quiz

The coronavirus has given Londoners their first experience of self-isolation and distancing. Corid-19 is, of course, not London’s first pandemic, these seem to arrive every 100 years.

So today’s quiz is all about London’s ‘firsts’.

Questions

1. What was invented in a workshop in Hatton Garden in the 1880s?

(a) The world’s first machine gun
(b) The world’s first tank
(c) The world’s first flame thrower


2. What was invented which was greeted by the Admiralty as: “. . . of any kind are now wholly unnecessary”.

(a) A self-righting ship
(b) An electric telegraph
(c) A non-fraying flag


3. Coram’s Fields commemorates a London first that revolutionised the world. But what?

(a) Charity
(b) Vaccine
(c) Statistics


4. On 10th January 1946, the first meeting took place of what international organisation?

(a) World Health Organisation
(b) Oxfam
(c) United Nations


5. Five years before the last public hanging at Newgate, what was the world’s first when completed?

(a) The first urban underground
(b) The first tramline
(c) The first scheduled bus service


6. Nearly every country now has one, but Croydon saw the world’s first. But what was it that is now commonplace?

(a) A radio station
(b) An international airport
(c) A department store


7. Today we take it for granted, but what world’s first was constructed near Holborn Viaduct?

(a) The world’s first public electricity generating station
(b) The world’s first sewage treatment works
(c) The world’s first water pumping station


8. What invention was first demonstrated in a room above what is now the Bar Italia coffee lounge in Frith Street, Soho?

(a) The espresso coffee machine
(b) The television
(c) The vacuum cleaner


9. What did Joseph Merlin demonstrate for the first time at a masquerade party in Soho in 1760?

(a) The kaleidoscope
(b) The penny-farthing bicycle
(c) Roller skates


10. In 1905 two brothers named Stratton were convicted of robbery and murder at a paint shop in Deptford High Street. What methodology was used to secure convictions?

(a) The first identikit portrait from a witness, the local milkman
(b) The first case in which fingerprints were successfully used to convict
(c) Their getaway car, which had an early number plate was identified leading to the police tracking them down


As a bonus: What ‘first’ did Colonel Pierpoint admire before he died?

Answers

1. What was invented in a workshop in Hatton Garden in 1880?

(a) Hiram Maxim was an American who moved to London, opened a workshop in Hatton Garden, near the junction with Clerkenwell Road and eventually became a naturalised Briton and a knight of the realm. His Maxim Gun invented in 1881 was the first fully automatic machine gun. At Shangari River in 1893 Cecil Rhodes’ troops, armed with a Maxim Gun, only lost four men and killed 1,500 natives. Not content with killing native Africans he went on to invent the first auto-resetting mousetrap.


2. What was invented which was greeted by the Admiralty as: “. . . of any kind are now wholly unnecessary”.

(b) In 1816 Francis Ronalds, at 26 Upper Mall, built a telegraph using electrostatic and clockwork principles, rejected by the Admiralty he was knighted in 1870, a belated recognition of his pioneering vision.


3. Coram’s Fields commemorates a London first that revolutionised the world. But what?

(a) In 1739 Captain Thomas Coram, a London merchant was appalled by the number of abandoned babies he saw, he set up the Foundling Hospital, the world’s first charity, Handel and Hogarth were among the benefactors of the world’s first incorporated charity. Coram’s Fields are unique in only allowing adults if accompanied by a child.


4. On 10th January 1946, the first meeting took place of what international organisation?

(c) The First General Assembly of the United Nations, with 51 nations represented, was held in the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, a successor to the League of Nations, which was thought to have been ineffective in preventing World War II.


5. Five years before the last public hanging at Newgate, what was the world’s first when completed?

(a) Opening in 1863, the Metropolitan Railway between Paddington (then called Bishop’s Road) and Farringdon was the world’s first urban underground passenger-carrying railway. Confusingly, the original platform now serves the Hammersmith & City Line.


6. Nearly every country now has one, but Croydon saw the world’s first. But what was it that is now commonplace?

(b) In 1920 the world’s first international airport opened in Croydon, offering flights to Europe. A remodelling 8 years saw the world’s first purpose-built airport terminal and airport hotel.


7. Today we take it for granted, but what world’s first was constructed near Holborn Viaduct?

(a) The world’s first public electricity generating station was opened in 1882 to light the lamps on the bridge. Designed by Thomas Edison, it was steam-powered and supplied DC current, and predated New York’s power station by some months.


8. What invention was first demonstrated in a room above what is now the Bar Italia coffee lounge in Frith Street, Soho?

(b) John Logie Baird began his research into the transmission of visual images in Hastings in the early 1920s, but in 1924 rented an attic room at 22 Frith Street to use as a workshop. On 26th January 1926 members of the Royal Institution made up the first television audience. A blue plaque is displayed above Bar Italia commemorating that day.


9. What did Joseph Merlin demonstrate for the first time at a masquerade party in Soho in 1760?

(c) Roller skates were first demonstrated at famous society hostess’ Mrs Cornelys Soho Square house by clock and instrument maker John Joseph Merlin. Making an appearance at the party gliding across the floor on boots that he had adapted by fitting them with wheels, unfortunately, he had failed to devise a method of stopping himself and he crashed into a large mirror.


10. In 1905 two brothers named Stratton were convicted of robbery and murder at a paint shop in Deptford High Street. What methodology was used to secure convictions?

(b) On 27th March 1905, Chapman’s Oil and Paint Shop was raided and the shopkeeper murdered. A thumb mark was left on the emptied cash box. Using a method of identification that had been in use for a couple of years, it was the first time the Crown achieved a murder conviction and one of the first in the world to use the methodology still in use today.


As a bonus: What ‘first’ did Colonel Pierpoint admire before he died?

At his expense in 1864 Colonel Pierpoint had London’s first traffic island constructed in St. James’s Street opposite his club in Pall Mall. On its completion, his excitement (and possible inebriation) encouraged him to dash across the road to admire his contribution to society. Alas, he was knocked down and killed by a passing cab.

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