London Trivia: First self-service

On 31 July 1950, the first self-service Sainsbury’s store opened in Croydon. It wasn’t, however, immediately popular. One local magazine even said that it ‘was the easiest way in the world of spending too much money’ in a period of post-war austerity.

On 31 July 1895 at Baldwyn’s Park, Sydenham, Mr Hyram Maxim’s gargantuan flying machine with a 105ft wingspan, powered by steam engines, lifted off and flew 600ft

The original medieval London Bridge in use for more than 600 years featured heads of criminals displayed on spikes for more than half of that time

The Metropolitan Police’s iconic revolving sign ‘New Scotland Yard’ once on Broadway performed over 14,000 revolutions every day

Kenneth Grahame author of The Wind in The Willows and secretary of the Bank of England was shot at in the bank by a deranged George Robinson

Big Ben is the bell, not the clock tower, now renamed Elizabeth Tower in honour of the Queen. Its chime is in the key of E

Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Michael Bentine once shared a small flat at 13 Linden Gardens, Notting Hill

French Ordinary Court EC3 takes it’s name from a fixed price menu or as Samuel Pepys called it a French Ordinary

Dating from 1534 the northern wall of a tennis court built at Whitehall Palace by Henry VIII is London’s oldest sports venue

Only two Tube stations have all five vowels in their name: South Ealing and Mansion House and more than half of the London Underground network in fact runs above ground

Old Billingsgate Market was originally opened in 1016 selling food and wine, with fish becoming the sole trade later

Princess Diana’s first owned apartment was at Coleherne Court, Earls Court given to her as an 18th birthday present

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.

Previously Posted: The Burghers of Trumpton

For those new to CabbieBlog or readers who are slightly forgetful, on Saturdays I’m republishing posts, many going back over a decade. Some will still be very relevant while others have become dated over time. Just think of this post as your weekend paper supplement.

The Burghers of Trumpton (14.07.09)

Patrick Moore must know if there is a parallel universe in London.

For most of us who use London’s roads encounter inappropriate speeding, overtaking on the nearside, rude and careless drivers, and a complete disregard of pedestrians and cyclists.

But it would appear that The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s roads department don’t populate the world that I live in (or most accurately the world that I drive in).

Their world is akin to Camberwick Green when everybody is aware of other road users, greeting them with a cheery riposte, and continuing on their journey unimpeded. They help little old ladies cross the road and slow down for children.

For what the good Burghers of Kensington and Trumpton are proposing is to convert Exhibition Road by removing the kerbs and to semi pedestrianise the road. Already the RNIB have objected to this lack of delineation between the road and pavement, going as far on 17 June when 150 blind and partially sighted people campaigned outside the London Assembly.

This explains the proposed changes:

The most recognisable characteristic of shared space is the absence of street clutter, such as conventional traffic signals, barriers, signs and road markings. This encourages motorists to slow down, engage with their surroundings and make eye contact with pedestrians – resulting in a higher quality and more usable street area, with enhanced road safety.

So next year look out for Police Constable McGarry, Mickey Murphy the baker, Dr Mopp, Mrs Honeyman and Windy Miller.

Pugh Pugh Barney McGrew Cuthbert Dibble and Grubb!

July’s monthly musings

💬 Cab News

You couldn’t make it up: Conservative MP and Minister for London Paul Scully has bemoaned the lack of Uber drivers willing to take him ‘Sarf of the River’ and begrudged paying the metered price by London’s black cabs for taking him the 16 miles to his home. Paul Scully MP’s original post on Twitter said: “Genuinely can’t remember the last time I could find an Uber driver in central London who’s prepared to go south of the river.”

🎧 What I’m Listening

There seems a curious convention among those who travel in the back of a cab. First, the cabbie is asked how long they’ve driven a cab, followed by: “What time you on ’til?” This question is now the title of a podcast by two Northern cabbies, JP and Ryan, who give their opinions, with a humorous twist, on industry news and stories from the past month.

📖 What I’m Reading

According to Caroline Roope’s The History of the London Underground Map, the map or Diagram, as she refers to it in her excellent book, fundamentally lacks key mapping elements such as topography and urban detail, but what it does is encourage a mental map of London, one that exists inside the passenger’s head allowing them to traverse the city, much like London’s cabbies achieve when studying The Knowledge. London’s Underground Map can be found on t-shirts, keyrings, duvet covers, and the app has been downloaded an astonishing 20 million times. After nearly 100 years it remains an icon of British design and ingenuity. Caroline’s book takes you through the history of the Underground and the different variations of this cultural artefact. Fascinating.

📺 What I’m watching

Mark Monroe whose London Grill is featured next month studied musical theatre at the Arts Ed School in Chiswick, becoming a jobbing theatre actor and after picking up a few prestigious roles, he then realised the fragility of treading the boards and undertook The Knowledge. In May 2019 he created Secret London sharing facets of London on his YouTube Channel where he shares a side of London that very few people are aware of.

❓ What else

For some time now I’ve been a top reviewer at Netgalley which offers free book downloads for honest reviews. Top Reviewer sounds like an impressive title but only means that a least three of my book reviews have been featured by a publisher.

A tale of two Mayors

Under Boris Johnson:

Falling crime rates, the Olympics successfully delivered, and a booming economy.

Under Sadiq Khan:

The Metropolitan Police is on special measures, record levels of teens dying due to knife crime, lowest take up for years of The Knowledge and TfL is being run into the ground, virtually bankrupt.

Johnson’s London Dictionary: Post Office Tower

POST OFFICE TOWER (n.) Peculiar struckture that doth disappear from view the closer one aporoaches, despite much branding it is not yet known as the BT Tower.

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