Category Archives: London trivia

London Trivia: First doctor

On 25 July 1865 Dr James Barry, former Inspector General of Hospitals, died, it was affirmed that Dr Barry was a woman. If this was the case, then technically Barry was not only the youngest, but the first woman to graduate in medicine.

On 25 July 1914 W. G. Grace battled for the last time for Eltham Cricket Club, he was the first English captain to surrender the urn when England lost in 1891/2

Shoddy axeman Jack Ketch who bungled the execution of the Duke of Monmouth lives on today as the hangman in the Punch and Judy puppet shows

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea is the most densely populated area in the UK-13,200 people per sq. kilometre (London average 5,000)

When Polly, resident parrot of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, died in 1926 her obituary appeared in numerous Fleet Street papers

The British Legion introduced the first artificial poppies in 1921 raising £106k. The Poppy Factory has been at Richmond for almost 90 years

Billy Elliot rehearses dance moves at a youth centre not in the north-east but at Hanwell Community Centre, Hanwell

Kew Gardens is unique on the Underground being the only station with its own pub The Railway which has a door that leads out onto platform 1

West Ham home ground once formed part of Anne Boleyn’s grand manor house known as Green Street House, which was demolished in 1890

Edgware Road is London’s oldest road 2,000 years ago it was a grassy track, the Romans incorporated it into their major road, Watling Street

The Post Office Research Station, Dollis Hill, built the world’s first programmable computer known as Colossus Mk 1 the size of a small room

The Fairlop Oak one of England’s most famous trees was blown down in 1820, it was used to carve the pulpit in St. Pancras Church, Euston

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: We are not amused

On 18 July 1895 actor Henry Irving was conferred a knighthood, the first actor to be so recognised. Prime Minister Gladstone had wanted to offer him one in 1883 but was dissuaded on the grounds that Irving’s liaison with Ellen Terry would lead to a row with the Queen over the proposal.

On 30 July 1746 the last executed traitor to have their head displayed on a pike (his at Temple Bar) was Jacobite rebel Francis Towneley

On 18 July 1921 Nelson Greenaway, a hawker of St Luke’s Road, was fined £3 at Feltham for colliding into the American Ambassador’s car carrying an American General

The Lamb and Flag, Rose Street, Covent Garden dates back to 1627 being a favourite watering hole of Charles Dickens

Victorian publisher Joshua Butterworth left money for a ceremony at St. Bartholomew’s, Smithfield to give alms and buns to poor London widows

It is thought that the ‘Window Tax’ brought about the phrase: “Daylight Robbery”, being robbed of daylight by taxation

Gieves (the name) of Gieves and Hawkes, 1 Savile Row was the inspiration for P. G. Wodehouse’s butler Jeeves, albeit spelt different

In 1251 a Polar Bear given to King Henry III by the King of Norway lived in the Tower of London and went fishing in the Thames

Cricketing legend W. G. Grace was a practising doctor who worked from his practice at 7 Lawrie Park Road, Sydenham

Early London and Greenwich Railway trains were made in the style of a Roman galley ship to fit in with the viaducts they travelled across

London’s oldest shop Twining’s in the Strand has been selling tea since 1706. Twining family home in Twickenham, Dial House is now a vicarage

One of the first (if not THE first) British suppliers of Doc Marten shoes and boots was Blackman’s, Cheshire Street, Bethnal Green

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: Brent Cross opens

On 11 July 1976 Brent Cross shopping centre opened in north London. It had eighty-six shops, parking for 5,000 cars, was fully enclosed and air-conditioned and had a late policy which was novel at this time.

On 11 July 1848 the London & South Western Railway opened Waterloo Bridge station. A spur once led to the adjoining dedicated station of the London Necropolis Co., for funeral trains

The Clink England’s first prison was notorious for its brutality, received its name from the clinking of prisoners’ manacles and chains

In 1110 Queen Matilda was crossing a ford at modern Bow, falling from her horse into the river the King Henry I ordered a bow-shaped bridge

A Black Death researcher claims the lack of rat corpses in London and the speed of contagion proves that it was spread by humans killing 40,000 in London

So many refugees arrived in the 1870/80s 150 synagogues were built and over 135,000 Jews were crammed into two square miles of the East End

In 1967 Finsbury Park was the setting for Jimi Hendrix’s first foray into his signature on stage guitar pyromania

18th century Fulham’s reputation for debauchery, gambling and prostitution echoes of which are used in gambling parlance, fulham means loaded dice

Steve Galloway was a 1980s semi-pro footballer who worked in the City – as part of his training NatWest let him run up their tower every day

At Heathrow the first aircraft to take off was a converted Lancaster bomber for Buenos Aires, passengers walked along duckboards over muddy airfield

In the early 20th century Great Portland Street earned the nickname Motor Row thanks to the 33 car showrooms that spanned its length

The Bank of England stores the country’s gold reserves in a subterranean crypt known as The Vault with a floor area over seven acres

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: Wife for sale

On 4 July 1829 George Shillibeer established London’s first regular omnibus service; his horse-drawn coaches ran daily from Paddington, via Regent’s Street Park to Bank in the City, carrying up to twenty passengers.

On 4 July 1833 this Tuesday afternoon at Portman Market saw the ‘Sale of a wife’, the first bidding was 4s, the next 4s 6d; a dustman carried her off amidst the hisses of the crowd for 5/-

The Blind Beggar on Whitechapel Road was where Ronnie Kray killed George Cornell by shooting him through the eye

Waterstone’s on Piccadilly was the inspiration for Are You Being Served? Writer Jeremy Lloyd worked there when it was Simpsons dept store

In the graveyard of Morden College, Blackheath is buried John Thompson ‘Yeoman of the Mouth’ (food taster) to Charles II and James I

Bethnal Green North East MP Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree (aka Bow and Agree) was the UK’s first Asian Tory MP from 1895 to 1906

One of the first shopping streets to be lit by electricity was Electric Avenue, Brixton made famous by Eddie Grant’s 1981 Electric Avenue

In The Shakespeare’s Head, Covent Garden the 4th Earl of Sandwich requested bread and meat thus creating the first ever sandwich

West Ham FC was founded in 1895 by workers Thames Ironworks who hammered iron to build ships so named ‘The Hammers’

The world’s first school bus (horse drawn) was set up to run between Newington Academy for Girls and Gracechurch Street Meeting House in 1827

A young Charles Dickens worked as a legal clerk in Gray’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn where experience led him to call the law ‘an ass’

Maurice Micklewhite changed his name to Michael Caine after seeing a poster in Leicester Square advertising The Caine Mutiny

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: Burned for heresy

On 27 June 1556 over 20,000 people watched the burning at stake of eleven Protestant men and women for heresy, they had a memorial erected to them at St John’s church, Stratford, in 1879.

On 27 June 1967 actor Reg Varney ‘On the Buses’, unveiled the world’s first automated Teller Machine (ATM) at Barclay’s Bank, Enfield

The Old Bailey’s Blind Justice roof statue is unusual in not having a blindfold. Her impartiality is said to be shown by her ‘maidenly form’

In Gough Square off Fleet Street is a statue of Hodge, the pet cat of Dr Samuel Johnson, writer and lexicographer who lived nearby

A macabre statistic is that the most popular suicide time on London’s Underground is around eleven in the morning

Greek Street is named after mass of Greek Christians who arrived in London around 1670 after being persecuted under Ottoman rule

The nude cover shot for John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1968 album ‘Two Virgins’ was taken at their flat at 38 Montagu Square

The Prospect of Whitby pub dates from 1520 and is named after ‘The Prospect’ a Whitby registered coal boat moored there in the 18th century

Tim Berners-Lee appeared in the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony – a clueless US TV commentator suggested viewers Google him

The station with the most platforms is Baker Street with 10 (Moorgate also has 10 platforms but only six are used by Tube trains)

Harry Beck produced the well known Tube map diagram while working as an engineering draughtsman at the London Underground Signals Office. He was reportedly paid 10 guineas (£10.50) for his efforts

Colehearne Court in Brompton Road was Princess Diana’s home in the early 1980’s when she charged two flatmates £18 a week rent

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.