Category Archives: London trivia

London Trivia: London-wide rioting

On 7 August 2011 rioting and looting spread across London and beyond. Brixton, Enfield, Islington, Wood Green and Oxford Circus were scenes of the rioting – many looters didn’t even bother to mask themselves.

On 7 August 1746 Jacobite captain, James Dawson, was hanged, drawn and quartered on Kennington Common, his fiancée died seconds after watching the execution

In 1959 at Wandsworth Prison Guenther Podola became the last man to be hanged in Britain for killing a police officer

Sir Christopher Wren’s first design proposal for St Paul’s featured a 60ft high stone pineapple atop the dome, it would be one of many rejections

The terracotta animals on the façade of the Natural History Museum extinct creatures are to the east of the entrance, the living to the west

At 4 Henrietta St, Covent Garden in August 1922 writer T. E. Lawrence (…of Arabia) tried to enlist in the RAF as John Hume Ross

When the rebuilt Covent Garden Theatre in 1809 raised ticket prices by 1/- riots broke out during the première of Macbeth

In summer 1974 Nude Show what is now the Peacock Theatre had Lindy Salmon’s bikini removed by dolphins Pixie and Penny

In the London 2012 Olympics Sarah Attar later became the first woman from Saudi Arabia to compete in an Olympic athletics event, when she ran in a heat of the 800m

London buses were not always red. Before 1907, different routes had different-coloured buses, London General Omnibus Company painted their fleet of buses red in order to stand out from the competition

7 Bruce Grove, Tottenham was the home of Luke Howard, the ‘namer of clouds’ who proposed the nomenclature system in use today

Etched into the frosted windows of the Albert Tavern in Victoria Street is an image of Prince Albert’s penis, just don’t ask the barmaid where it is situated

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: First self-service

On 31 July 1950, the first self-service Sainsbury’s store opened in Croydon. It wasn’t, however, immediately popular. One local magazine even said that it ‘was the easiest way in the world of spending too much money’ in a period of post-war austerity.

On 31 July 1895 at Baldwyn’s Park, Sydenham, Mr Hyram Maxim’s gargantuan flying machine with a 105ft wingspan, powered by steam engines, lifted off and flew 600ft

The original medieval London Bridge in use for more than 600 years featured heads of criminals displayed on spikes for more than half of that time

The Metropolitan Police’s iconic revolving sign ‘New Scotland Yard’ once on Broadway performed over 14,000 revolutions every day

Kenneth Grahame author of The Wind in The Willows and secretary of the Bank of England was shot at in the bank by a deranged George Robinson

Big Ben is the bell, not the clock tower, now renamed Elizabeth Tower in honour of the Queen. Its chime is in the key of E

Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Michael Bentine once shared a small flat at 13 Linden Gardens, Notting Hill

French Ordinary Court EC3 takes it’s name from a fixed price menu or as Samuel Pepys called it a French Ordinary

Dating from 1534 the northern wall of a tennis court built at Whitehall Palace by Henry VIII is London’s oldest sports venue

Only two Tube stations have all five vowels in their name: South Ealing and Mansion House and more than half of the London Underground network in fact runs above ground

Old Billingsgate Market was originally opened in 1016 selling food and wine, with fish becoming the sole trade later

Princess Diana’s first owned apartment was at Coleherne Court, Earls Court given to her as an 18th birthday present

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: Jeffery Archer is innocent

On 24 July 1987 Jeffery Archer was awarded record libel damages of £500,000 and costs from the Star newspaper for accusing him of paying a prostitute, Monica Coghlan, for sex. The former deputy chairman of the Conservative party told the jury he was a fool for paying £2,000 to her, but that he was not a liar when he denied having slept with her.

On 24 July 1969 after 4 years in a Soviet jail, Gerald Brooke returned to London. He had been swapped with the Krogers, a couple involved in the Portland spy case

London gangster Charlie Richardson claimed to have help bug Harold Wilson’s Downing Street phones for South African intelligence agency

Clerkenwell is named after the ‘Clerk’s Well’ that supplied Charterhouse. It can be seen through the window of Well Court, Farringdon Lane

There was a public latrine on Old London Bridge that plopped directly into the Thames, providing boatmen with a fresh source of worry

Voltaire, Edgar Allen Poe, Ho Chi Minh, Mahatma Gandhi, Vincent Van Gogh, Sigmund Freud, and Hiter’s older half-brother all lived in London

London’s home to the world’s largest block of acrylic by Tower Hotel it’s a 1-tonne cuboid reject for 2001: A Space Odyssey – black was used

Zog self-proclaimed King of Albania, fled to London when Mussolini invaded with his country’s gold. Booked into the Ritz and paid in bullion

London’s oldest sports building still in use for its original purpose is the Real Tennis Court at Hampton Court Palace, one of its walls dates back to 1625

On the eastbound platform a roundel still reads St. James’ Park, the rest have the current spelling and punctuation, St. James’s Park

The Queen’s Remembrancer the oldest legal post presides over the Trial of the Pyx where 26 gold smiths are sworn in to weigh Royal Mint coins

It’s an odd coincidence at £4m modern London Bridge cost the same as buying, transporting and re-erecting the old bridge at Lake Havasu, USA

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: First Punch published

On 17 July 1841, the first edition of Punch appeared under the joint editorship of Mark Lemon, Henry Mayhew and Stirling Coyne. A gentleman on an omnibus was seen tossing a copy aside and declaring, ‘One of these ephemeral things they bring out; won’t last a fortnight’.

On 17 July 1895, the Great Wheel built for the Empire of India Exhibition at Earl’s Court was opened to the public on this day and demolished in 1907

‘Monkey Suckers’ perfected the art of drilling into barrels stored at East End docks then using tube to suck out a bottle, or two, of rum

Cheapside get its name from the Saxon word for market – ‘chepe’ as this was London’s main market in medieval times

More than 1,000 bodies are buried underneath Aldgate station, in a plague pit built over 2 weeks in 1665, its location is now Aldgate Underground Station

The last person to be executed at the Tower of London was Josef Jakobs, a German Intelligence agent. He was shot by firing sqaud in 1941

It is probable that Charles Dickens modelled the Cratchit’s house in Camden Town on his first London home at 16 Bayham Street

Samuel Scott’s speciality was to tie a noose around his neck then jump off Waterloo bridge and dance in the air before returning safely, ultimately he didn’t

Fulham FC are the oldest professional football club in London having been derived from St Andrew’s Church team

Farringdon underground station is the only station from which passengers exited en masse on their way to a public hanging

Every July the two companies take part in ‘Swan Upping’ which is the marking and census of all cygnets between Sunbury and Abingdon

In 1949 a flock of starlings landed on the minute hand of Big Ben it put the time back by 4.5 minutes, and snow caused the clock to ring in the New Year 10 minutes late in 1962

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: First parking meter

On 10 July 1958 Parkeon installed and unveiled London’s first parking meter outside the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square, it cost 6d an hour and the fine for non-payment was £2 (about £35 nowadays).

1980: The 105-year-old Exhibition Hall of Alexandra Palace was gutted by a fire that started at 3 p.m. The building had been restored and was to have been unveiled on 11 July

Bow Street Police Station was the only Victorian London police station with a white light outside rather than a blue light

For almost a century London was the most densely populated City on Earth. It was eclipsed by Tokyo in 1926

John Thompson was Royal Food Taster to 4 Monarchs: Charles II, James II, William III and Anne. He is buried at Morden College, Blackheath

Bethnal Green underground station doubled as a library during World War II with a stock of over 4,000 books, the station would be the scene of one of the greatest loss of civilian life during the war

Formerly ‘Pippen’ at 83-84 Hampstead High Street was where Annie Lennox working as a waitress first met Dave Stewart

Underneath the Ministry of Defence’s Main Building in Whitehall is Henry VIII’s wine cellar. In 1949 they moved the whole cellar, encasing it in steel and concrete and shifted it 9ft to the West and 19ft lower

West Ham’s ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’ was inspired by trialist schoolboy Billy Murray who resembled the boy used to advertise Pears soap

Abandoned Tube stations include Strand (closed 1994); Down Street (1932); Brompton Road (1934); and Mark Lane, which is now an All Bar One

The gross domestic product of London is significantly larger than that of several European countries including Belgium and Sweden

Edward VII had so many mistresses that a special pew was reserved for them at his coronation. It was known as ‘the Loose Box’

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.