Category Archives: London trivia

London Trivia: Built with sugar cubes

On 16 August 1897, the Tate Gallery was opened on Millbank, it contained a collection of 67 Victorian paintings donated by sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate. Starting a grocery shop, which grew to a chain of six stores by the time he was 35. Selling the grocery business, Tate became a partner in John Wright & Co. sugar refinery, and in 1872, he purchased the patent from German Eugen Langen for making sugar cubes.

On 16 August 2008 as Notting Hill Carnival drew to a close, 40 young men fought a running battle with police, a tradition repeated on many a August bank holiday

The 1950’s Teddy Boys (originally ‘Cosh Boys’) were first seen in London, mainly Elephant & Castle, and became Britain’s first youth cult

Pall Mall was the first street in England to be lit by gas by the splendidly named New Patriotic Imperial and National Light and Gas Company

Bread Street in the City of London, is the birthplace of 17th century English poet John Milton who wrote Paradise Lost

Found in Westminster Abbey after the Queen’s coronation: 3 pearl ropes, 20 brooches, 6 bracelets, a diamond necklace, 20 coronet gold balls

Contrary to popular myth, the statue of Nelson on his column in Trafalgar Square doesn’t have an eye patch

Green Park comes from when Charles II picked a flower giving it to the most beautiful woman, not his wife who ordered all flowers be removed

The Artillery Garden, Finsbury is the oldest venue for archery in the world, Fraternity of St. George 1509 uses traditional longbows

The reason London taxis are so high is so that gentlemen don’t have to remove their top hats, particularly when going to Ascot

Benjamin Franklin invented the lighting conductor and St Paul’s Cathedral was the first public building in the world having it affixed to it

Of the 700,000 dogs in London 10,000 each year end up at Battersea Dogs Home where contrary to urban myth only the old and dangerous are destroyed

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: Appendicitis delays coronation

On 9 August 1901 after developing appendicitis on 24 June, Edward VII had recovered sufficiently to be crowned at Westminster Abbey on this day. The surgical skill of Sir Frederick Treves ensured that the 50-year-old monarch was well enough to attend the ceremony. Prior to the anaesthetic, the King made Sir Frederick a Baronet. Sir Frederick was known for his friendship with Joseph Merrick, dubbed the ‘Elephant Man’.

On 9 August 1967 Kenneth Halliwell bludgeoned lover and playwright Joe Orton to death at 25 Noel Road, Islington

The Blind Beggar was the scene of another gruesome murder when street thief Bulldog Wallis stabbed a man through the eye with an umbrella

Bevis Marks synagogue is named from boundary marks of the Bishop of Bury St Edmonds’ house which was here in medieval times

The Old Vic 1937, Lawrence Olivier’s sword broke and hit a member of the audience, who was so startled he promptly had a heart attack

By tradition the Monarch stops at Temple Bar to ask permission of the Lord Mayor to enter The City and to surrender the Sword of State

Jeremy Sandford’s acclaimed 1966 BBC play Cathy Come Home directed by Ken Loach was partly filmed on Popham Street in upmarket Islington

Kettner’s in Romilly Street, Soho was founded in 1867 by German named August Kettner, rumoured to have been Napoleon’s chef

Blackheath is the site of the United Kingdom’s first rugby club, also gave birth to the world’s first hockey clubs, the first golf club south of the Scottish border

The requirement for cabs to have a turning circle of 25ft was instigated as far back as 1906, Nubar Gulbenkian asked why he bought one replied: ‘Because it turns on a sixpence; whatever that is.’

The weathervane on the Royal Exchange in the City is a grasshopper not a cock, the former being the crest of its founder Sir Thomas Gresham

Army barracks near Mill Hill East were named after Lt-Col William Inglis killed in 1811 battle who told his men to “die hard” – hence phrase

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: Romantic assignations

On 2 August 1833, the famous entertainment venue, Vauxhall Gardens, had its most successful day when an astonishing 133,278 people arrived to visit its paths being noted for romantic assignations, watching tightrope walkers, hot-air balloon ascents, concerts and fireworks providing entertainment, and a statue depicting George Frederic Handel. In 1817 the Battle of Waterloo was re-enacted, with 1,000 soldiers participating in our victory.

On 2 August 1921 residents of Hackney and Upper Clapton were summoned to the North London Police Court, found guilty, they were fined for illegally watering their gardens

London’s oldest tree a 2,000 year old yew in St Andrew’s Totteridge churchyard was used as the venue for an early type of magistrate’s court

Covent Garden takes its name from when the area was walled off as a garden for Westminster Abbey and the convent on the site

London’s first pedestrian refuge island was financed by a Colonel Pierpoint stepping back to admire his creation he was knocked down by a cab

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon at Edward VII’s wedding was so boring the orchestra started playing to drown him out

The Duke of Wellington has the unique honour of having two equestrian statutes of him erected in central London

Britain’s first bagel bakery opened in 1855 – it still is open every day of the year 24 hours a day in Brick Lane

Montague Burton set up a chain of shops selling 30/- suits, upper floors were builliard halls for use by customers as they waited for their clothes to be altered

On 2 August 1870 Tower Subway opened under the Thames becoming the world’s first underground railway, carrying up to 12 passengers at a time

Twining Teas opened 1707 on the Strand selling tea to Queen Anne, it’s the oldest business in Britain operating from their original premises

The former Abbey National Building Society (now Santander) was founded in a Baptist chapel in Abbey Road, St. John’s Wood

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: Woman bomber in Kensington

On 26 July 1994, a car bomb has exploded outside the Israeli embassy injuring 14 people and causing widespread damage. The Audi 100, driven by a woman was packed with 30lbs of Semtex, it blew up minutes after the driver left it. Although embassy staff were dazed and confused, the worst injury was a broken arm. Thirteen hours later, another car bomb exploded outside the headquarters of a London Jewish charity.

On 26 July 1818 to publicise the opening of the Royal Coburg Theatre, Usher the clown drove a carriage, pulled by 4 tom-cats along Waterloo Road. The theatre was later renamed the Old Vic

The Bishop of Rochester’s cook was boiled alive at Smithfield after poisoning fellow cooks. Boiling was struck off the Statute Book in 1548

The clock known by many as Big Ben completed in 1854 its original 2.5-ton hands had to be remade lighter as the mechanism couldn’t turn them

London’s 1845 International Exhibition saw the world’s first plastic using nitro-cellulose – the product failed as it tended to explode

Sadly for the UK’s richest city, London has the highest proportion of people living below the poverty line than anywhere else in the country

On New Year’s Eve 1853 a dinner was held inside the stomach of a iguanodon being constructed for Dinosaur Park at Crystal Palace

The Savoy was the first hotel with electric lifts known at the time as ascending rooms – it boasted en-suite rooms with hot and cold water

In 2014 the London Playing Fields Foundation reported that 20 per cent of London’s football pitches had been lost over 20 years

During rush hour motor vehicles average speed is 7mph while cyclists maintain 13mph – 15 per cent of Londoners spend over 2 hours commuting each day

Eurostar’s departure lounge has columns that are 3 beer barrels apart as the building was once where beer in transit was stored

Barnet Hill, the hill outside High Barnet Tube station is the one the Grand Old Duke of York marched his men up and down

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: Jaws debut

On 19 July 1983, a huge new dinosaur skeleton was unveiled to the media at the Natural History Museum. Plumber Bill Walker found a foot-long claw belonging to the flesh-eating beast at a clay pit in Surrey. Palaeontologists reconstructed it and dated the remains at 125 million years old, nicknamed ‘Jaws’ the creature would have been as tall as a double-decker bus, and could have run up to 20 miles an hour.

On 19 July 2011 Robert Murdoch’s face was hit with a shaving foam pie thrown by a protester at a parliamentary hearing into phone hacking

In Clink Street is the prison of the same name derived from the French “clenche” meaning catch outside of the door as opposed to the inside

The height of the Monument measures the same as the distance from its base to the place where The Great Fire of London was started

Statistically for some undefined reason would-be suicides prefer to meet their maker from underground stations than from one open to the sky

House near Globe Theatre claims Catherine, Henry VIII’s first Queen sheltered on her first landing in London and Christopher Wren lived there

Senate House on Malet Street in Bloomsbury was George Orwell’s model for the Ministry of Truth in his book 1984

The Guinea Grill in Bruton Street sells over 25,000 steak and kidney pies a year in 2000 it was officially declared Steak Pie of the Century

The home of cricket, Kennington Oval’s distinctive shape was dictated by the layout of the surrounding streets rather than the other way round

In 1928 Hyde Park Corner had more through traffic than any place in the world by 1998 Vauxhall Cross was declared Europe’s busiest junction

Beneath government buildings is a secret wartime complex between Great George Street and King Charles Street are 200 underground offices

Silver Vaults London’s oldest safe deposit assures confidentiality but when flooded one held a pair of knickers labelled “My Life’s Undoing”

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.