Category Archives: London trivia

London Trivia: Shock and awe

On 19 January 1917 at 6.62 in the evening an explosion at the Brunner-Mond munitions factory manufacturing explosives for Britain’s World War I military effort in Silvertown, West Ham killed 73 people and injured over 400. Much of the area was flattened by 50 tonnes of TNT exploding causing a shock wave felt throughout London and Essex. The largest explosion in London’s history was heard as far away as Southampton.

On 19 January 1937 The Underground Murder Mystery, a play by J. Bissell Thomas, was the first play to be broadcast by the BBC, it was set in Tottenham Court Road station

During the Jack the Ripper investigation the police paid £100 for 2 tracker bloodhounds but they got lost and needed the Police to find them

Bromley Hall, Brunswick Road, Bow is believed to be the oldest brick house in London, and dates back to 1490

It was in Room 507 at the Hotel Samarkand, 22 Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill that Jimi Hendrix died of a drugs overdose in September 1970

Had Hitler won World War II he planned to transport Nelson’s Column to Berlin as he believed it was a symbol of British naval supremacy

Sir John Goss who composed the hymn “Praise my Soul, the King of Heaven” was once organist of St Paul’s Cathedral and St Luke’s Church Chelsea

One of the performers at the 1831 opening of London Bridge played tunes by hitting himself on the chin with his fists

In September 2009 London and the River Thames hosted the world’s largest ever plastic duck race with 205, 000 ducks participating

On 19 January 2009 Pawel Modzelewski travelled the 19 bus for 6 hours unnoticed after dying the previous day and left in the garage overnight

In the 1880s workers at the Bryant and May match factory were forced to contribute one shilling to a statue of former PM William Gladstone

The keys to the vaults of the Bank of England which presumably are kept under lock and key – the real ones, not ceremonial ones – are 3 feet long

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.

London Trivia: Frozen out

On 12 January 1789 with the Thames frozen due in part to the river being both broader and shallower than today, a frost fair was in full swing. The ‘Little Ice Age’ lasting from 17th to 19th-century ice fairs were regularly held, the first being in 1608. Frost fairs were often brief as rapid thaws swiftly followed as it did on that day when melting ice dragged a ship anchored to a riverside public house pulling the down and crushing five people to death.

On 12 January 1828 whilst under construction Isambard Brunel’s Thames Tunnel flooded and 6 men died. Brunel himself was fortunate to escape

John Bishop and Thomas Williams who lived at 3 Nova Scotia Gardens, Spitalfields were notorious 19th century body snatchers

The Monument stands on the site of St Margaret’s, the first church to burn down during the Great Fire of 1666

In 1926, suicide pits were installed beneath tracks due to a rise in the numbers of passengers throwing themselves in front of trains

In 1536 in consideration to his wife Henry VIII converted Anne Boleyn’s sentence of death by burning to that of beheading at Tower Hill

A young David Robert Jones went to Burnt Ash Junior School, Bromley in the mid fifties, he is better known today as David Bowie

In 1830 Michael Boai, aka the ‘chin chopper’, gave a concert at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly playing tunes by tapping his chin

Arsenal (originally opened on 15 December 1906 as Gillespie Road) on Piccadilly line is the only station named after a football team

On 12 January 1866 The Royal Aeronautical Society was formed in London, the society’s objectives were “for the advancement of Aerial Navigation and for Observations in Aerology connected therewith”

19th Century Spitalfields was world famous for silk weaving, so much so that Pope Pius IX ordered a seamless silk garment from there

Nineteenth century parish records show Fanny Funk (1859) and Eleazer Bed (1871) as being born In Whitechapel

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.

London Trivia: Duke of York

On 5 January 1827 Frederick, second son of George III, died at Rutland House in Arlington Street. The Duke of York’s Column in Waterloo Place commemorating his life and paid for by British troops, each forced to donate a day’s pay was said to be so high to escape his creditors for his £2 million debts. After an ineffectual campaign against the Dutch Frederick was mocked producing the rhyme: “The Grand Old Duke of York”.

On 5 January 1944, the Daily Mail became the first ‘transoceanic newspaper’ launching the Transatlantic Daily Mail a digest of London’s paper

In January 1965 Freddie Foreman abducted Ginger Marks outside Repton Boxing Club, Cheshire Street, Bethnal Green, he then murdered him

Etched into the frosted windows of the Albert Tavern in Victoria Street is an image of Prince Albert’s penis. Grade II listed it was built in 1862 and is the only remaining building from the original phase

The tomb of Lord Nelson stands in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral directly below the centre of the dome. His sarcophagus had been commissioned by Cardinal Wolsey in around 1524 before he fell from favour

Immediately before and two months into World War II Bank of England Governor, Montagu Norman supported transfers of Czech gold to Hitler’s Germany

The cover for Oasis’ second studio album (What’s The Story) Morning Glory was shot in Berwick Street, Soho

Fortnum and Mason was the first store in England to sell Heinz’s tinned foods in 1886. In 1901 Heinz Baked Beans were first sold at in their food hall

Whilst a pupil at Rugby School, William Webb Ellis is thought to have invented rugby football. He became the rector of St Clement Danes church in Strand

On 5 January 1964 Stamford Brook was the first tube station on the network to have an automatic ticket barrier installed

Before Anthony Trollope started work at the General Post Office, St Martin’s-Le-Grand each morning he would rise at 5:30am and pen 1,000 words

In his time, founder of Sutton’s Hospital in Charterhouse Square, Sir Thomas Sutton (1532-1611) was the richest commoner in England

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.

London Trivia: St. Paul’s survives

On 29 December 1940, the largest area of continuous Blitz destruction anywhere in Briain took place. The Luftwaffe dropped over 24,000 high-explosive bombs, times to coincide with a very low tide, making it difficult for firefighters to get water. The famous picture of the church surrounded by smoke and fire was taken by photographer Herbert Mason from the roof of Northcliffe House, the Daily Mail building on Tudor Street.

On 29 December 1860 HMS Warrior an armour-plated warship, the biggest in the Navy was launched and froze on the slipway, six tugs were need to pull her off into the Thames

The term ‘clink’ is derived from the Clink Prison in Southwark a private lock-up owned by the Bishops of Winchester

Under Cleopatra’s Needle, a Victorian time capsule contains railway timetables, bibles, newspapers and photos of beauties of the day

Great Ormond Street was the first hospital in England exclusively for children when it opened in 1851 42 per cent of deaths were children under 10

Queen Victoria’s Coronation Ring was jammed on to the wrong finger by the Archbishop of Canterbury and as a result got stuck

Carving Handel’s statue for Westminster Abbey the artist objected to the size of the maestro’s own ears and modelled them on a young lady’s

Opened in 1881 the Savoy Theatre was the first public building in the world to be lit throughout by electricity, fitted out with 1,200 incandescent light bulbs

To make balls more visible early tennis courts were painted red using lampblack and oxblood the animal being slaughtered on the floor itself

Daimler made the first petrol-driven cab in 1887 but it was 17 years before the vehicle was licensed to ply for hire in London

When escalators were first installed at Earls Court Bumper Harris a one-legged man was employed to demonstrate their safety and ease of use

When weddings take place at Bevis Marks, London’s oldest synagogue, the building is lit by candlelight as it would have been in 1701

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.

London Trivia: Edward Heath bombed

On 22 December 1974 Conservative Leader and former Prime Minister Edward Heath’s home in Victoria was bombed by the IRA. Thrown from a Ford Cortina the 2lb. bomb damaged the exterior of the house. Two policemen and a patrol car chased the vehicle as it drove off, but the Cortina crashed a few minutes later in Chelsea and several men fled from the vehicle. Edward Heath was not at home at the time but arrived 10 minutes later.

On 22 December 2003 the London Frost Fair was revived with a 1-day festival at Bankside, it is now a regular feature in December

The London Hackney Carriages Act 1843 forbids a cabbie whose ‘For Hire’ light is on to seek trade whilst the vehicle is moving – fine £200!

Designed by Giles Gilbert Scott – who gave us the telephone box – Grade II listed Battersea Power Station is Europe’s largest brick building

Jeremy Bentham proposed eminent men be preserved and stuffed for prosperity unfortunately his head rotted and replaced with a wax replica

Horse drawn Hansom Cabs gained a renaissance in the Great War as petrol cabs slumped by 60% due to petrol shortages-1947 saw the last horse

When opened in 1928 the owners of the Piccadilly Theatre claimed that the bricks used if laid end to end would stretch from London to Paris

Peach Melba created at the Savoy for soprano Nellie Melba used her favourite ingredients to reduce the cold of ice cream on her vocal cords

On 22 December 2007 after being on the pitch 1.2 seconds Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner scored the fastest goal by a substitute in English Footy

North End (nicknamed Bull and Bush) Station on Northern Line between Hampstead/Golders Green closed in 1907 before seeing a single passenger

In 1901 Westminster Abbey became the first public building to be vacuumed when cleaned by a ‘Puffing Billy’ for Edward VII’s coronation

Barges rarely ply the Thames but when the Crown Jewels travel by carriage they traditionally do so in the company of the Queen’s Bargemaster

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.