Category Archives: London trivia

London Trivia: Heckled by a parrot

On 25 October 1961, Britain’s top satirical magazine was launched from Willie Rushton’s mothers home in Scarsdale Villas. The publication of corny text, printed on yellow paper would develop into Private Eye, which today has a circulation of over ¼ million for its bi-weekly editions. Still published in London it has been edited since 1986 by Ian Hislop and today is better known for its investigative journalism into under-reported scandals.

On 25 October 1400 Geoffrey Chaucer author of Canterbury Tales died, he was the first writer interred in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey

Cellars at The Mason’s Arms, Upper Berkeley Street were used as cells for those to be hanged at Tyburn to which there is a connecting tunnel

St Paul’s Cathedral is the fifth built on the site of a Roman temple dedicated to Diana, the first church was constructed around 604 AD

Charliatan, Dr. Bossey entertained vast crowds in Covent Garden, but decamped when heckled by who he believed to be a dissatisfied patient, in fact it was a parrot

King Charles I was the last monarch ever to enter the Chamber of The House of Commons. Today the monarch addresses Parliament in the House of Lords

William Hogarth’s Times of Day: Night shows 18th century magistrate Thomas de Veil being soaked by urine on Charing Cross Road

Pimms was invented in 1823 at 3 Poultry at the Pimm’s Oyster Rooms as an aid to digestion serving it in a small tankard known as a No. 1 Cup

London’s oldest swimming club is the Serpentine SC, founded in 1864, unusually it didn’t adopt first and second class swims

The Rocket inventor Robert Stevenson proposed the Thames Viaduct Railway a steel structure for trains to travel along the river’s centre

The majority of workers at Mortons Jam factory were of Scottish origin, this is where the famous blue & white colours of Millwall originated

The 1,800 people a year granted The Freedom of The City of London can if they should wish herd a gaggle of geese down Cheapside

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: Crippen’s trial

On 18 October 1910 Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen’s trial commenced, for the murder of his wife Cora. Lasting only 5 days, the jury took just hours to reach a verdict of guilty. He was executed at Pentonville Prison on 23 November. His notoriety stems from being the first suspect apprehended with the aid of wireless telegraphy as he made his escape to Canada. Cora’s body was found under the basement floor of 39 Hilldrop Crescent.

On 18 November 1660, a proclamation forbidding Hackney carriages to ply for hire was enacted. Pepys records in his diary picking up on the following day

In 1894 Martial Bourdin accidently blew himself up – his funeral sparked riots by 15,000 near the Autonomie Anarchist Club, 6 Windmill Street

The Tower of London once contained a royal residence, barracks, armoury, prison, mint, a menagerie and an observatory

It took Dr John Snow years to persuade the establishment that cholera is the water-borne disease that he proved it to be in Soho in 1854

During the Cold War the statue of St Francis of Asissi at Brompton Oratory was used as a ‘dead letter’ drop for Russian KGB agents

Fassett Square in Dalston was the model for Eastenders’ Albert Square but no pub and the garden is for residents only

Tooting Bec Lido holds 1 million gallons, taking a week to fill, at 300ft x 100ft a maximum of 1,400 swimmers can enter the water at a time

Edgar Kail scored over 400 goals for Dulwich Hamlet FC won 3 England caps and refused to turn professional, Hamlet fans still chant his name

The first deep-level tube trains had no windows, guards called out the station names to advise your location

In the early days of the London and Birmingham Railway conductors travelled outside the train, leaning in through the open windows to check tickets

It would take 7,408 Hula Hoops to reach the height of Big Ben, it’s a claim made by the manufacturers of – well Hula Hoops

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: Apprentice hangman

On 11 October 1870, Margaret Waters was hanged at Horsemonger Lane Gaol, close to present-day Newington Causeway, for the crime of what became known as baby farming. She had taken at least 19 children into her care for money, then she would murder or starve to death her charges. As might befit a person of her character, the hangman, William Calcroft, was just learning his craft on the job, but he managed his task.

On 11 October 1919 on a flight from London to Paris passengers enjoyed the first in-flight meals – lunch boxes a three shillings (15p) each

HMP Pentonville built in 1842 at a cost £84,186 12s 2d was intended to be a holding prison for convicts awaiting transportation

Cowcross Street is so named after the cows crossing on their journey to the slaughterhouses and butchers at Smithfield Market

Idol Lane, off Great Tower Street was formerly Idle Lane denoting an area of the city where loiterers would congregate

Christ Church Lambeth’s spire is decorated with stars and stripes commemorating the abolition of slavery, half the cost was borne by America

The album cover for David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was shot outside 23 Heddon Street

Tossing the pie which apprentice boys tossed a coin to win a pie, if the pieman won he kept the 1d and the pie, losing he gave the pie away

On 11 October 1940 Centre Court at Wimbledon was hit by five 500lb German bombs, 16 bombs hit the club during the war

Transport for London Byelaw 10(2): No person shall enter through any train door until any person leaving by that door has passed through it!

Friday Street (Fridei Strete in 12th Century) was named after the Friday market of fishmongers selling fish in memory of Good Friday

Covering in total 620 sq miles London is the biggest city in Europe and with 4,699 people per sq kilometre has Britain’s highest density

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: Please stand on the right

On 4 October 1911, Earls Court opened to the public the first underground escalator. To reassure passengers ‘Bumper’ Harris, a clerk of works, was assigned to assuage passenger’s anxiety by demonstrating the escalator’s convenience and its safety. He had, unfortunately, a wooden leg leading to the speculation of having lost it in a previous escalator journey, the leg had been crushed between two carriages carrying rubble.

On 4 October 1936 The Battle of Cable Street took place as Eastenders battled with Oswald Mosley’s marching fascists the Blackshirts

Sumptuary law prescribed precisely what different echelons of London society were permitted to wear only aristocrats could wear pointy boots

The 6,000-year-old timber piles visible at low tide in front of MI6’s building are remnants of a Mesolithic structure beside the River Effra

Below Greenwich Park at Croom Hill Gate is a Bronze Age cemetery, excavations in the 18th century found glass beads, wool and hair, as well as shields and swords

More than 1 million bees were evacuated from London during World War II, as their hives were disrupted by the shocks of the Blitz

Whitechapel’s Marcus Samuel sold painted seashells, which is why he called his later oil industry concern Shell

The Thames has frozen completely 24 times the last Frost Fair in February 1814 an elephant was led across the river below Blackfriars Bridge

Richmond Golf Club’s 1940 rules: ‘During gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play . . .

On 4 October 1911, the Public Carriage Department, assigned to regulate cabs, took possession of the new police offices in Great Scotland Yard

Gentleman’s Magazine was the world’s first magazine, it was printed at St John’s Gate, Clerkenwell, it ran uninterrupted for almost 200 years, until 1922, and was the first to use the term ‘magazine’

London’s oldest shrub is the 200-year-old wisteria at Fuller’s Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, planted in 1816, its twin at Kew Gardens died

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: Europe’s first travelator

On 27 September 1960 Europe’s first travelator was ceremonially opened. Bank Station, which had been in service since late Victorian times had only one exit down a sloping corridor. By the 1930s the increased passenger volumes had made its use impractical. The war and post-war austerity had stopped the project, finally construction began in 1957 taking three years for completion.

On 27 September 1968 the musical Hair, containing nudity and drug-taking, opened after the abolition of theatre censorship, ending the Lord Chamberlain’s powers of censorship dating back to 1737

In 1736 gravedigger Thomas Jenkins received 100 lashes for selling dead bodies from St Dunstan & All Saints, Stepney High Street

There are still 1,600 operating gas lamps in London examples are found in the charming Goodwin’s Court, Covent Garden

During the Great Fire of London in 1666, charred leaves of burning books were blown as far as Acton, an astonishing 20 miles distant

On 27 September 1940 during the Blitz, an astonishing 117,000 people slept sheltering in the Underground, authorities had tried to ban the public at night from the stations

First crafted in 1951, James Bond’s aftershave was Floris No. 89 – so-named because Floris’s shop is at 89 Jermyn Street, Mayfair

As a bet, Lord Lyttleton slept in the attic of 50 Berkeley Square in 1872, with his shotgun, he apparently fired his gun at several apparitions throughout the night

London has more functioning public baths and indoor pools that date from prior to 1939 than any city in the world – 18 public; and 5 private

The Victoria Line that runs between Brixton and Walthamstow Central, and is coloured light blue on the Tube map, is one of only two lines on the Underground that is completely underground

On Albert Bridge, a sign asks soldiers to break step as synchronised marching caused too much vibration! Wags change the sign to ‘break wind’

Gas street lights widely used in 1850 each with a luminousity of a 25 watt bulb, but by the 1930s only half of London’s streets had electric

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.