London Trivia: Ronnie and Reggie

On 24 October 1933 East End gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray were born in Hoxton, both later attended Wood Close School, Brick Lane, with their gang, known as “The Firm”, the Krays were involved in murder and armed robbery.

On 24 October 2003 Concorde made its final commercial flight landing at Heathrow, 27 years after its first flight

Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain after being convicted of the murder of her lover, David Blakely, once lived at 44 Egerton Gardens, Ealing

It’s believed as long as there’s ravens at the Tower of London Britain will be safe from invasion a Raven Master still looks after the birds

Owner of the Titanic, Joseph Bruce Ismay, was buried at Putney Vale Cemetery in 1937, 25 years after surviving the disaster

A London by-law of 1351 prohibited boys (girls were presumably exempt) from playing practical jokes on Members of Parliament

The Lanesborough Hotel had three original Reynolds and boasts the largest collection of 18th century paintings in the world outside any gallery

During the Great Exhibition 827,280 male visitors paid 1d each to use the ‘Reading Rooms’, giving rise to the expression ‘to spend a penny’

Sir Jack Hobbs, the first professional cricketer to be knighted, lived at 17 Englewood Road, Clapham, known as ‘The Master’, he is regarded by critics as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket

Heathrow’s Terminal 4 has gates 12 and 14 at opposite ends of the building, so superstitious travellers wouldn’t notice the absence of gate 13

Isaac Newton lived at 87 Jermyn Street, St. James when he worked at the Royal Mint where he was tasked with prosecuting counterfeiters

TV cables at Buckingham Palace were installed by a ferret the narrow underground duct meant luring the animal with bacon whilst attached to a line

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.

An ice little earner

During the summer of 1844, a curious sight appeared in a storefront at 125 Strand, now curiously a Pret A Manger. Every day, shopworkers would put a large block of ice in the window, and since most Londoners had never seen a block of ice during summer it became quite a sensation. James I had commissioned the construction of the first modern ice house in Greenwich Park in 1619, but only for the hoi polloi’s exclusive use.

As a gimmick, a newspaper was placed on the other side of the block of ice enabling passers-by to read the print through the ice, from outside the store looking into the window.

Above the shop window, the sign read: ‘Wenham Lake Ice Company’. Many people supposed Wenham could boast of a huge volume of ultra-pure water. In fact, this little lake north of Boston has the same stuff that falls from the sky as everywhere else.

That didn’t detract from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert insisting on its use at Buckingham Palace and awarding the company with a Royal Warrant for supplying err…water.

Making ice a commercial proposition became an obsession with Wenham Ice’s owner, Frederic Tudor. The first shipment of 300 tons melted as customs deliberated on how to classify frozen water moored at a London dock. Shipowners were reluctant to accept what they expected to remain on the outside of their vessels, and not sloshing about inside making the ship unstable. He had to create a market when none existed, work out how to cut and lift the stuff, store it and secure trading rights.

For several decades, ice was America’s second-biggest crop, measured by weight. It would eventually make Frederic Tudor a wealthy man.

The English proved resistant to his commercialisation of frozen water, preferring to buy the Norwegian stuff, who even changed the name of Lake Oppegaard near Oslo to…Lake Wenham.

A comprehensive account of how ice was supplied to London in the years between the middle and end of the 19th Century can be found at The Canal Museum’s website.

Johnson’s London Dictionary: Oyster Card

OYSTER CARD (n.) So named after the plentiful food eaten by the poor in London. On presentation those without their own sedan may gain access to an omnibus, thus keeping the streets clear of the unwashed

Dr. Johnson’s London Dictionary for publick consumption in the twenty-first century avail yourself on Twitter @JohnsonsLondon

Trivia about, well trivia

In July 2009, for reasons that escape me, I started tweeting daily London trivia and to date, 4,529 pieces of useless information have been put out to anyone who has nothing better to do than read my missives.

Now, I don’t think I’m obsessive, but a quick perusal of my bookshelf I’ve just counted 87 books about London, in addition to a large number of downloads on my Kindle, all, of course, provides a rich seam of trivial information, which are also included in CabbieBlog’s Sunday trivia.

A further search for London trivia on Amazon gave the result of 143 books and downloads I’ve yet to read, and put out in cyberspace.

What’s the point of trivia?

Expanding your knowledge of trivia questions can provide you with a dopamine rush, but should you wish to come down from a non-drug induced high, trivia also helps to engage your frontal cortex, or the part of the brain that plays a major role in the processing of memories (see undertaking The Knowledge elsewhere on this blog), thus keeping the brain sharp and engaged.

Knowledge of trivia, or at least remembering these little snippets of information, is the basis of TV’s quizzes. So again a little bit of basic research gave me 32 quiz programmes broadcast each week on terrestrial television, and there’s even a satellite channel devoted to the pursuit of this stuff.

The world-famous trivia game, Trivial Pursuit, first created in 1979 by Chris Haney and Scott Abbott in Montreal, who had become frustrated to find pieces of their Scrabble game had gone missing is thought to have sparked people’s fascination with trivia and competing to see who knows more odd facts about geography, history, art, science, sports and entertainment.

On Tuesday 4th January 2022 we can all join hands with America on National Trivia Day which little known factoids are celebrated, and here on CabbieBlog I will be posting:

Bermondsey’s Tanner Street, Morocco Street and Old Leathermarket are reminders of when the leather industry was based there #LDNTrivia

You read it here first.

London in Quotations: Nathaniel Hawthorne

London is like the grave in one respect – any man can make himself at home there; and whenever a man finds himself homeless elsewhere, he had better either die or go to London.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), Sketch of the Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne