Category Archives: London trivia

London Trivia: Not so innocent

On 16 February 1978 after a long campaign in which ‘G. Davis Is Innocent, OK’ was daubed on every available wall in East London, mini-cab driver George Davis was cleared in the Crown Court after his wrongful conviction for an armed £47,000 robbery at the London Electricity Board offices in Ilford, for which he had been sent to prison. Two years later he was convicted of a £50,000 London bank raid at the Bank of Cyprus, Tottenham.

On 16 February 1824 John Wilson Croker established a ‘club for scientific and literary men and artists’ – the Athenaeum, he is also credited with coining the word Conservative for a political description

Cab drivers who drive too slowly can be charged with ‘loitering’, but are exempt from compulsorily wearing seat belts whilst working at whatever speed they are travelling

The circumference at the Gherkin’s widest point is 178 metres, which is only two metres less than its height of 180 metres

There were three assassination attempts on Queen Victoria at Constitution Hill a road under half a mile long and Princess Anne was shot at there

Josef Jakobs a German spy captured in World War II was the last person executed at the Tower of London, he was shot by firing squad

Sherlock Holmes fictional home 221b Baker Street is the Santander Building Society which has an office dealing with the detective’s fan mail

Museum of London tracing the capital’s history from Prehistoric times to the present day is the largest urban history museum in the world

Sudbury Hill’s Wood End Estate has 11 streets named after sports people: Mary Peters Drive; Lilian Board Way; Brasher Close; Bannister Close

The word ‘taxi’ originates from the name of the inventor of the taximeter in 1907, a German called Baron Von Thurn und Taxis

Vauxhall Cars take their name from its first factory on the site of Fawke’s Hall, beside the river near where Vauxhall Bridge now stands

Dr Johnson’s Memorial House in Gough Square contains a brick from the Great Wall of China donated to the museum in 1822

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: A sparkling idea

On 9 February 1792 German-Swiss entrepreneur Johann Jakob Schweppe arrived in London to set up his first Seltzer water factory at 141 Drury Lane. Despite an unpromising start with his Swiss partners pulling out, Johann Schweppe persevered, his Soda Water became the colloquial term for sparkling water within a decade cementing his business name in the popular lexicon and creating the worldwide brand.

On 9 February 1996 an IRA 500kg bomb in a truck exploded at South Quay, Canary Wharf at 7pm, killing two and injuring 39, causing over £100 million damage

In 1992 driving a Porsche 911 a driver clocked up 147 mph, the highest speed recorded by the police on the M25 needless to say he got banned

The oldest surviving Blue Plaque is Napoleon III staying at 1c King Street in 1848 it’s the only one installed during a candidate’s lifetime

On 9 February 1915 Only Fools and Horses actor Lennard Pearce, who played Grandad in the TV show, was born in Paddington

The Connaught Hotel was called The Coburg, but like the Royal Family changed its name during World War I to avoid anti-German sentiment

In 1851 Britain’s greatest painter J. M. W. Turner bequeathed the contents of his studio to the nation the Tate holds 39,389 pieces

In 1912 the first Royal Variety Show took place at the Palace Theatre. Queen Mary was shocked by male impersonator Vesta Tilley

Only 14 men have run each and every one of the 34 London Marathons, one is former head teacher Mike Peace his best time is 2:37.12 in 1991

Over 47 million litres water are pumped from the Underground each day, enough to fill a 25m swimming pool every quarter of an hour

The man appointed by Charles II to put out the Great Fire of London was his brother the Duke of York – after whom New York was named

The statues of Livingstone and Shackleton outside the Royal Geographical Society have given rise to cabbies calling it “Hot and Cold Corner”

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: Jumbo binge

On 2 February 1255 the Royal Menagerie, housed at The Tower of London received a male African elephant. It had been a diplomatic gift from King Louis IX of France to Henry III. The only elephant in England was thought to have come from the Crusades in Palestine. The keepers appear to have been too enthusiastic plying the elephant with copious bottles of red wine, consequently, it died three years later, very happy.

On 2 February 1101 the king’s tax collector and embezzler, Bishop Ranulf Flambard, the Tower’s first prisoner, became its first escapee after getting his captors drunk

The Clink a small prison whose name entered the English language as slang term for gaol it was for those who ran amok in Bankside’s brothels

Strand was the first road in London to have a numbered address Charles II’s Secretary of State residence was No 1 near Northumberland Avenue

On 2 February 1852 the first public toilets opened at 95 Fleet Street. Selfridge’s was the first shop to have ladies’ toilets

The night before the 1911 census suffragette Emily Davison hid in a cupboard in the House of Commons so she could claim that was her address

Outstanding movie The Long Good Friday with Bob Hoskins features scenes filmed at Wapping and West India Quay

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand was known as the home of chess, its serving practise-wheeling food out under silver domes-originates avoiding disturbing a game of chess

Set up in1869 the Hurlingham Club originally hosted pigeon shooting before becoming a major venue for tennis

One early name proposed for the Victoria Line was the Viking line; the Central Line used to be nicknamed as the ‘Twopenny Tube’ for its flat fare

By 1883 Fleet Street’s newspapers produced 15 morning dailies, 9 evening papers and 383 weekly publications, of which 50 were local rags

The City of London has had city status for time immemorial – i.e. no historical information exists to show that it wasn’t a city at any point in known London history

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: What’s on the box?

On 26 January 1927 members of the Royal Institution and a reporter from The Times saw in a laboratory at 22 Frith Street, Soho above today’s Bar Italia an invention demonstrated by Mr John Logie Baird called a televisor. It was the world’s first public demonstration of television. It was also the first demonstration of a television system that could broadcast live moving images with tone graduation and with a scan rate of 12.5 pictures per second.

On 26 January 1960 Michael Black pleaded guilty to burglary and stealing jewellery at a house in Acacia Road. Surprisingly he was a company director with assets of £30,000

Bow Street police station had a white light and not traditional blue as Queen Victoria’s Albert died in the blue room at Windsor Castle

The traditional wedding cake design is based on the spire of 17th century St. Bride’s Church designed by Sir Christopher Wren

In the central courtyard of the Victoria and Albert museum is a memorial to Jim, faithful dog of Henry Cole, the museum’s first director

David Cameron was not first Prime Minister to use Tube – Gladstone did it – except he was dead (the coffin was brought to Westminster on District Line)

Beatrix Potter lived near Brompton Cemetery where names on graves include Mr Nutkins, Jeremiah Fisher and Peter Rabbit

The early 1980s Burlington Arcade beadle tells someone off for whistling, they turn round, it’s Paul McCartney – beadle exempts him for life

The oldest surviving regular contest in the is World Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race rowing up the Thames between two Swan pubs: London Bridge to Chelsea

Embankment Station, northbound Northern Line is the only platform still playing the original ‘Mind the Gap’ by sound engineer Peter Lodge

Alexander Graham Bell first successfully demonstrated his device later called a telephone from rooms at Brown’s Hotel, Dover Street in 1876

A ‘pickadil’ was one of those big ruffed Elizabethan collars. Man who made fortune from them built Piccadilly Hall – hence the street name

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: 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.