Category Archives: London trivia

London Trivia: I’m a banana

On 24 May 1989 Private Eye editor Ian Hislop declared: “If that’s justice, then I’m a banana”, after Sonia Sutcliffe, the wife of Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, won £600,000 damages – £100,000 more than the previous record British libel sum, and 100 times larger than that awarded to three of Sutcliffe’s victims – the magazine claimed she had profited from her notoriety by selling her story (it was later reduced to £60,000 on appeal).

On 24 May 1906 the Ritz Hotel opened, today it serves between 400 and 500 afternoon teas a day costing up to £79 per person

The notorious 18th century highwayman Jack Shepherd gained historic fame from jailbreaking and escaping not his robbing stagecoaches leaving London

North Ockendon is the only settlement within the Greater London boundary to poke outside the orbit of the M25 motorway

If Dutch ships land cargoes in the Pool of London the harbour fees are waived as they were the only ones prepared to come during the plague

Westminster Bridge is painted green and Lambeth Bridge painted red they mirror the seats’ colour in the Chambers of the Commons and Lords

Queen Victoria’s Memorial outside Buckingham Palace is called The Wedding Cake by cabbies as it still retains its whiteness after 100 years

In 1998 William Allen, aged 84, when driving the few miles to his daughter he inadvertently joined the M25, and spent two days going round in circles

On 24 May 1966 Cassius Clay fought Henry Cooper at Arsenal’s Stadium in front of 46,000 people Cooper’s cut eye gave Clay the match in Round Six

The Routemaster bus first appeared on London’s streets in 1956 and Transport for London still run the iconic red double decker bus on two routes

Part of modern Camden Market was once a horse hospital patching up animals after having slipped on London’s cobbled streets

Known as eyots, or aits there are 190 islands dotted along the Thames from source to sea, most are uninhabited

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: The Tower’s last prisoner

On 17 May 1941, Rudolf Hess was interned for 4 days at the Tower of London where he signed autographs for the warders – one of which is still in the warders bar. Hitler’s deputy had parachuted into Scotland asserting that he wanted to open peace negotiations. He would be the final state prisoner to be held at the castle. Hess would only remain for a few days, he was later tried at Nuremberg and given a life sentence.

On 17 May 1993 at the cost of £345 million, the Limehouse Link opened, becoming the most expensive road per foot to be constructed in Britain

The Seamens’ and Soldiers’ False Characters Act 1906 makes it an offence to walk London’s streets in military fancy dress – fine £20

Affixed to a wall of the Charterhouse is London’s oldest surviving sundial dated 1611 marking the year Thomas Sutton established the school

Postman’s Park near the site of the old General Post Office has a memorial to those dying – many of them children – trying to save others

Incarcerated in the Tower of London King John II of France while awaiting for his ransom to be paid had his own court jester to cheer him up

Named after London’s famous comic, Joseph Grimaldi Park in Islington plays host to an annual ceremony populated by clowns

The Savoy Hotel which reopened at 10.10 on 10.10.2010 was built 1889 and was London’s first luxury hotel and the first with electric light

Abe Sapperstein, a Jewish businessman, born in Flower and Dean Street in 1900 was the founder of the Harlem Globetrotters, he was neither black nor American

The longest distance between Underground stations is the Metropolitan line from Chesham to Chalfont & Latimer: a total of only 3.89 miles

London and Westminster Gas Light and Coke Company founded the world’s first gas works in 1812 to supply gas to Westminster

Rare before, Sysimbrium irio a native plant of the Mediterranean prolificated in the City which had been devastated after the Great Fire

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: Peace in our time?

On 10 May 1940 after losing a vote of confidence in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned at the same time that Germany was invading Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Winston Churchill stepped in as Prime Minister to lead a coalition Government. Within six weeks German forces had conquered all three countries with France capitulating a few weeks later.

On 10 May 1553 Sir Hugh Willoughby and his fleet set sail from Ratcliff Stairs to discover the North-East Passage

German Nazi Rudolf Hess was the last prisoner to be incarcerated in the Tower of London, captured in Renfrewshire after parachuting out of a plane

Westminster Catholic Cathedral stands on the foundations of Tothill Fields Prison demolished in 1885, which was deemed as a ‘house of correction’ for the compulsory employment of able-bodied but indolent paupers

The roof’s shape of the famous red telephone box was influenced by Sir John Soane’s tomb in St Pancras Old Church

The first bomb to drop on London in World War I is commemorated by a plaque at 16 Alkham Road in Stoke Newington, there were no injuries

Carlyle Mansions, a smart Victorian apartment block in Chelsea, was once home to authors Ian Fleming, T. S. Eliot and Henry James

Radio and music hall comedian Tommy Handley once lived at 34 Craven Road, Paddington – Known for the saying: “It’s That Man Again”

1912 was a bad year for the Boat Race on this day when both boats sank, the subsequent re-row on the following Monday was won by Oxford by six lengths

The Tube tunnel between Knightsbridge and South Kensington negotiates a massive curve to avoid a 17th century plague pit

On 10 May 1922 Ivy Williams was called to the Bar, becoming England’s first female barrister. She would never practice in a London court

In 2010, Eurostat calculated that Inner London’s Gross Domestic Product per capita stood at 328 per cent of the EU’s 27 average

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: Festival spirit

On 3 May 1951 after the devastation and resulting austerity of the war years, the successful forerunner, of the Millennium Dome, was opened on London’s South Bank, aimed to raise the nation’s spirits whilst promoting the very best of British art, design and industry. It remained open for 5 months attracting 8.5 million visitors in that time. Of the buildings constructed only the Royal Festival Hall remains.

On 3 May 1968 the United Kingdom’s first heart transplant was undertaken at the National Heart Hospital in Marylebone, it was the 10th procedure of its kind in the world

Lady Elizabeth Hatton leaving a ball was found in a yard blood still pumping from her torn body Bleeding Heart Yard commemorates her murder

In the cloisters of Westminster Abbey is Britain’s the oldest door, in good nick, considering it was made in 1050 before the Norman Conquest

In 1739 Thomas Coram supported by Handel set up the Foundling Hospital for abandoned babies it was the world’s first incorporated charity

Christopher Wren built St Paul’s from both ends at same time so funding wouldn’t run out – money would have to be found to join halves up

The Trafalgar Square lions were sculpted from life Landseer used dead lions supplied by London Zoo until neighbours complained of the smell

Elizabeth Taylor spent part of her 7th honeymoon in 17th century Old Battersea House, home of her friend Malcolm Forbes

Wembley Stadium is filled with Middlesbrough FC shirts and scarves. There are also old season tickets, match programmes and various other items of memorabilia, placed in the arch by the steelworkers

And we think everything was so much better back then . . . early Tube maps asked passengers to refrain from spitting in the carriages

When St Pauls Cathedral neared completion its elderly architect Sir Christopher Wren was hauled to the roof by bucket and rope to inspect it

Clerkenwell is named after the medieval Clerk’s Well where Parish Clerks performed Mystery Plays, the well can still be seen

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 windscreen wiper

On 26 April 1908, the windscreen wiper was invented by a Newcastle United fan driving home from London in a blizzard. Gladstone Adams was driving home after seeing his team lose the FA Cup Final to Wolves. His journey was punctuated by repeated stops to clear snow from the windscreen. Adams vowed that when he got back home he’d do something to solve the problem. And so he did.

On 26 April 1921 the first motorcycle police patrols went on duty on the streets of London, it’s not recorded how many speeding offences were booked that day

When Scotland Yard’s foundations were being built the headless torso of a woman was found, the murderer was never caught

Crutched Friars, Tower Hill takes it’s name from Fratres Cruciferi a Roman Catholic religious order that settled in the street in 1249

St. Bartholomew’s Hospital is the oldest hospital in London having been founded in 1123 by a monk named Rahere

The first Lord Mayor of London (who is an officer of The City of London) was Henry Fitz-Ailwin de Londonestone who held the position in 1189

At Guildhall’s Art Gallery the eastern entrance of a Roman amphitheatre can be viewed underneath the artworks

Princess Elizabeth (before becoming Queen) was first seen with Philip Mountbatten in public at the recently re-opened Savoy Hotel in 1946

A tennis ball was discovered in 1922 in the rafters of Westminster Hall dating from before 1520 it was stuffed with dog hair

The Ryde to Shanklin train line on the Isle of Wight uses for its rolling stock 70-year-old London Tube trains from the Northern Line

Performed at 10 pm for 700 years The Tower of London’s The Ceremony of the Keys is the world’s oldest surviving continuous military ceremony

Over 25 per cent of all people living in London were born in another country and more languages are spoken than any city in the world

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.