Test Your Knowledge: January 2023

This month’s post is been called ‘Going Underground’, not travelling on the Tube, but trivia about below London’s surface. As before the correct answer will turn green when it’s clicked upon and expanded to give more information. The incorrect answers will turn red giving the correct explanation.

1. If we were to travel back in time without leaving the Sir Christopher Hatton pub we would find ourselves in the basement of what famous department store, which closed in 1972?
Bourne & Hollingsworth
WRONG Gamages, well known for its toy and hardware departments, traded between 1878 and 1972. Located in Holborn, opposite where now Sainsbury’s has their headquarters. In the late 1960s, a second Gamages store opened in Romford closing down in the early 1970s. The flagship Gamages in Holburn closed down soon after in March 1972, and no trace of the original building remains above ground.
Gamages
CORRECT Gamages, well known for its toy and hardware departments, traded between 1878 and 1972. Located in Holborn, opposite where now Sainsbury’s has their headquarters. In the late 1960s, a second Gamages store opened in Romford closing down in the early 1970s. The flagship Gamages in Holburn closed down soon after in March 1972, and no trace of the original building remains above ground.
Dickins & Jones
WRONG Gamages, well known for its toy and hardware departments, traded between 1878 and 1972. Located in Holborn, opposite where now Sainsbury’s has their headquarters. In the late 1960s, a second Gamages store opened in Romford closing down in the early 1970s. The flagship Gamages in Holburn closed down soon after in March 1972, and no trace of the original building remains above ground.
2. A little-known subterranean market operates out of an old bank vault off Chancery Lane. What type of goods does the market specialise in?
Gold
WRONG The London Silver Vaults occupy a sprawling Victorian storage facility beneath Chancery Lane. Few realise that you can simply walk down the stairs and freely browse one of the largest silver markets on Earth.
Silver
CORRECT The London Silver Vaults occupy a sprawling Victorian storage facility beneath Chancery Lane. Few realise that you can simply walk down the stairs and freely browse one of the largest silver markets on Earth.
Bullion
WRONG The London Silver Vaults occupy a sprawling Victorian storage facility beneath Chancery Lane. Few realise that you can simply walk down the stairs and freely browse one of the largest silver markets on Earth.
3. What unusual feature was installed in Holloway tube station in 1906, but never opened to the public?
A spiral escalator
CORRECT The remains of a spiral escalator are now stored at London Transport Museum Depot.
An automatic ticket machine
WRONG The remains of a spiral escalator are now stored at London Transport Museum Depot.
Public toilets
WRONG The remains of a spiral escalator are now stored at London Transport Museum Depot.
4. What function did ferrets perform prior to the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer?
Lay TV cables in Buckingham Palace
CORRECT Some of the TV cables at Buckingham Palace had to be fed through a very narrow underground duct. Conventional methods had failed, so the trusty animal was fitted with a harness connected to a very light but strong line. Lured by a piece of bacon, it scuttled through the duct. When it emerged at the other end engineers were able to attach the TV cables to the line and pull them through.
Clear pigeons from St. Paul’s Cathedral
WRONG Some of the TV cables at Buckingham Palace had to be fed through a very narrow underground duct. Conventional methods had failed, so the trusty animal was fitted with a harness connected to a very light but strong line. Lured by a piece of bacon, it scuttled through the duct. When it emerged at the other end engineers were able to attach the TV cables to the line and pull them through.
Promoting Diana’s favourite animal which appeared on BBC’s Blue Peter
WRONG Some of the TV cables at Buckingham Palace had to be fed through a very narrow underground duct. Conventional methods had failed, so the trusty animal was fitted with a harness connected to a very light but strong line. Lured by a piece of bacon, it scuttled through the duct. When it emerged at the other end engineers were able to attach the TV cables to the line and pull them through.
5. Which underground venue played host to David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd?
Chislehurst Caves
CORRECT During World War II Chislehurst Caves became the largest deep air-raid shelter outside London, offering protection to over 1,500 people during the Blitz. Once the war ended, Chislehurst caves adopted a more celebratory function, serving as a venue for dances and concerts throughout the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
Village Underground, Shoreditch
WRONG During World War II Chislehurst Caves became the largest deep air-raid shelter outside London, offering protection to over 1,500 people during the Blitz. Once the war ended, Chislehurst caves adopted a more celebratory function, serving as a venue for dances and concerts throughout the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
Wallacespace, Clerkenwell Green
WRONG During World War II Chislehurst Caves became the largest deep air-raid shelter outside London, offering protection to over 1,500 people during the Blitz. Once the war ended, Chislehurst caves adopted a more celebratory function, serving as a venue for dances and concerts throughout the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
6. How deep are the foundations of Western Europe’s tallest building, The Shard?
155ft
WRONG The Shard’s piles, many up to 6ft in diameter took 700 truckloads of concrete which were poured in a mammoth 36-hour long pour, concrete volumes that might ordinarily be poured in a day were poured every hour. The 5,500 cubic meter single pour set a new record for the UK’s largest continuous concrete pour, beating the previous record delivered at Wembley Stadium by nearly 15 per cent.
175ft
CORRECT The Shard’s piles, many up to 6ft in diameter took 700 truckloads of concrete which were poured in a mammoth 36-hour long pour, concrete volumes that might ordinarily be poured in a day were poured every hour. The 5,500 cubic meter single pour set a new record for the UK’s largest continuous concrete pour, beating the previous record delivered at Wembley Stadium by nearly 15 per cent.
135ft
WRONG The Shard’s piles, many up to 6ft in diameter took 700 truckloads of concrete which were poured in a mammoth 36-hour long pour, concrete volumes that might ordinarily be poured in a day were poured every hour. The 5,500 cubic meter single pour set a new record for the UK’s largest continuous concrete pour, beating the previous record delivered at Wembley Stadium by nearly 15 per cent.
7. During the early 1940s, eight deep-level shelters were built to protect the population from bombing, what was their proposed ultimate purpose?
Command centres in the event of nuclear war
WRONG Designed to protect 8,000 people beneath the street, they were not completed until after the main Blitz, so only saw limited use. The shelters were cleverly designed so that, after the war, they might be linked together to form an express tube line, more pressing needs meant that the money never materialised. The shelters were never demolished, and most became secure document storage spaces, but a few have found more imaginative roles.
Storage space for top-secret documents
WRONG Designed to protect 8,000 people beneath the street, they were not completed until after the main Blitz, so only saw limited use. The shelters were cleverly designed so that, after the war, they might be linked together to form an express tube line, more pressing needs meant that the money never materialised. The shelters were never demolished, and most became secure document storage spaces, but a few have found more imaginative roles.
Linked to form an express tube line
CORRECT Designed to protect 8,000 people beneath the street, they were not completed until after the main Blitz, so only saw limited use. The shelters were cleverly designed so that, after the war, they might be linked together to form an express tube line, more pressing needs meant that the money never materialised. The shelters were never demolished, and most became secure document storage spaces, but a few have found more imaginative roles.
8. Culex pipiens molestus is a unique London subspecies of what?
Worms
WRONG In 1999, researcher Katharyne Byrne compared Underground mosquitoes with others found in London, she discovered that they were a distinct subspecies. After ruling out migration from elsewhere she concluded that the London Underground was colonised by mosquitoes at a single time, then achieved ‘reproductive isolation’, making it a unique member of the culicidae family.
Rats
WRONG In 1999, researcher Katharyne Byrne compared Underground mosquitoes with others found in London, she discovered that they were a distinct subspecies. After ruling out migration from elsewhere she concluded that the London Underground was colonised by mosquitoes at a single time, then achieved ‘reproductive isolation’, making it a unique member of the culicidae family.
Mosquitos
CORRECT In 1999, researcher Katharyne Byrne compared Underground mosquitoes with others found in London, she discovered that they were a distinct subspecies. After ruling out migration from elsewhere she concluded that the London Underground was colonised by mosquitoes at a single time, then achieved ‘reproductive isolation’, making it a unique member of the culicidae family.
9. Beam, Bollo, Crane and Mole are all what?
Underground rivers
CORRECT London has over 20 different rivers which, over time, have been forced underground. Today, apart from the River Thames, there are only two London rivers that remain almost entirely above ground the River Wandle and the River Brent.
WWII underground command centres
WRONG London has over 20 different rivers which, over time, have been forced underground. Today, apart from the River Thames, there are only two London rivers that remain almost entirely above ground the River Wandle and the River Brent.
Disused Underground stations
WRONG London has over 20 different rivers which, over time, have been forced underground. Today, apart from the River Thames, there are only two London rivers that remain almost entirely above ground the River Wandle and the River Brent.
10. What do Pear Tree House, Sydenham, Dulwich and Sydenham Golf Club and Kingsway Telephone Exchange, Holborn have in common?
Emergency water pumping stations
WRONG During the Cold War, as part of ROTOR, a Cold War plans to protect Britain’s skies, London was divided into four groups, each reporting directly to Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Shelter, in turn, each group was subdivided into individual boroughs, each of them having its control centre. In recent months interest has been piqued amid fears of a nuclear conflict following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Nuclear fallout shelters
CORRECT During the Cold War, as part of ROTOR, a Cold War plans to protect Britain’s skies, London was divided into four groups, each reporting directly to Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Shelter, in turn, each group was subdivided into individual boroughs, each of them having its control centre. In recent months interest has been piqued amid fears of a nuclear conflict following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Emergency electricity power stations
WRONG During the Cold War, as part of ROTOR, a Cold War plans to protect Britain’s skies, London was divided into four groups, each reporting directly to Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Shelter, in turn, each group was subdivided into individual boroughs, each of them having its control centre. In recent months interest has been piqued amid fears of a nuclear conflict following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

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