Category Archives: London trivia

London Trivia: Brixton riot

On 10 April 1981, the Brixton Riot started, lasting 2 days. Tensions had been fuelled by unemployment and lack of social housing, these boiled over when a black youth was stabbed, was taken to hospital by the police and reputedly left to die.

On 10 April 1633 Apothecary Thomas Johnson hung a bunch of bananas in his shop at Snow Hill, the first bananas seen in Britain

In 1880 it was suggested redrawing London’s borough boundaries making each one hexagonal to stop cabbies cheating on their fares

Putney Bridge is unique in that it is the only one in Britain with a church at either end (St Mary’s Putney and All Saints Fulham)

Herts Shenley mental health hospital like many others was once a stately home with a long curved drive hence the term ‘going round the bend’

The green cab shelters were erected by Victorian philanthropists with the stipulations that no alcohol to be consumed nor politics discussed

The dinner party attended by Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in the film ‘Notting Hill’ was held at 91 Lansdowne Road, Notting Hill

Between 1927 and 39 London boasted no fewer than 27 greyhound tracks. Today only three tracks survive, at Wimbledon, Romford and Crayford

Between 1743 and 1939 with fourteen Islington had the highest concentration of public and private swimming baths ever recorded in Britain

London cabbies are forbidden to transport passengers suffering with a ‘notifiable disease’, bubonic plague is but one disease specified

St. Paul’s Cathedral took so long to build in 17thC London that a lazy worker at the time would be called a St Paul’s workman

The Camberwell Beauty is the colloquial term for Nymphasil antiopa, a velvety, chocolate brown butterfly rarely seen because it migrates annually to Scandanavia from London

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 elephant in the room

On 3 April 1965, the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre, a bleak modernist architectural edifice of 120 units and a tower, was opened by Ray Gunter, the Labour Party’s Minister of Labour. Only thirty-five units were taken prior to completion.

On 3 April 1913 Emmeline Pankhurst was sentenced to three years in prison for inciting supporters to place explosives at David Lloyd George’s home

Living in Cheyne Walk Keith Richard once had his Bentley Flying Spur fitted with Turkish flags to fool the police he had diplomatic immunity

The precarious nature of Albert Bridge, known as The Trembling Lady, forced authorities to order troops to break step when marching over it

It was once illegal to die in The Houses of Parliament for to do so the deceased would be entitled to a costly and undeserved State funeral

After the Dissolution much of Westminster Abbey’s revenues were transferred to St Paul’s hence the phrase ‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul’

The Underground roundel was taken and adapted from one used by the London General Omnibus Company, it was modified by Edward Johnston

At Twickenham on international match days fans consumed 120,000 pints, their dispensing system can pour a pint of beer in under 3 seconds

Saracens are the world’s first rugby union club to play competitively on an artificial surface, come the end of the season the edges are rolled back for athletics

The Jubilee Line is the only one to connect with all the other Underground Lines. The Jubilee Line was named to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 – but the line did not open until 1979

The Great Exhibition of 1851 was the first opportunity the public got to glimpse a rugby ball, even though the manufacturer, leathermaker William Gilbert had supplied pigs’ bladders to Rugby School since 1820s

Georgian London used the farmland that became Belgravia to dump its excrement in such volume asparagus was said to have an undesirable taste

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 grave mistake

On 27 March 1953 four women’s bodies were found at 10 Rillington Place, Notting Hill. The tenant, John Christie told the police he didn’t know how many people he had murdered. Another tenant, Timothy Evans, had been hanged for the deaths of his wife and infant daughter. Christie never did admit to their murder and was hanged by Evans’ executioner Albert Pierrepoint; Evans was eventually posthumously pardoned.

On 27 March 2011 it was established that London’s population had risen by 12 per cent to 8.2 million, the most rapid increase in the census history

A 1839 law requires street organ-grinders to leave an area of The City of London if they annoy householders – failure to comply 40 shillings

The Savoy Hotel’s refurbishment went £120 million over budget – the most expensive in Europe – averaging £800,000 per room for its 268 rooms

On 27 March 1931 novelist Arnold Bennett died of typhoid at his Baker Street home after drinking water in a Paris hotel to prove it was safe

On 27 March 1945 Germany’s last V2 bomb to hit London’s East End fell on and demolished Hughes Mansions, Vallance Road, 130 people died

Immortalised in Keith Waterhouse’s play of the same name, the Spectator’s absentee journalist due to his epic boozing his byline said: Jeffrey Bernard is unwell

The World’s End pub in Camden Town is the site of a hostelry once run by Mother Red Cap known as the ‘old shrew of Kentish Town’

On 27 March 1966 Pickles, a dog owned by Thames lighterman Dave Corbett, found the Jules Rimet Trophy (World Cup) in bushes on Beulah Hill

On 27 March 2008 Heathrow’s T5 opened, at 4.50 the first passenger on the first outbound flight was Paul Walker, a 31-year-old ex-pat working in the flower business in Kenya

Whitechapel Bell Foundry established 1570 was Britain’s oldest manufacturer until its recent closure, making Big Ben, America’s Liberty Bell and St Petersburg bells

Stanley Green (1915-1993) famously walked London’s streets for years in his fruitless campaign preaching against . . . the eating of protein

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: Flying cats

On 20 March 1819 Burlington Arcade was opened, not for the convenience of the public, but to stop public access. Annoyed by the constant litter being dropped alongside his house, Lord Burlington was inconvenienced by discarded oyster shells (a cheap snack in the eighteenth century) and dead cats being infrequently thrown over his garden wall. Percy the Poltergeist, is said to have been in residence since 1953, but no dead cats.

On 20 March 1974 Princess Anne and her husband Captain Mark Phillips escaped an apparent kidnap in Pall Mall in which shots were fired

On 20 March 1966 the £30,000 solid gold Jules Rimet Trophy (World Cup) was stolen while on exhibition at Central Hall in Westminster

In 1925 the Marlborough Street end of Liberty was rebuilt in Tudor style using wood from two ships HMS HIndustan and HMS Impregnable

The Embankment hides a smelly secret – Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s sewage system which prevents sewage flowing into the Thames

In 1642 Charles I tried to arrest 5 MPs who criticised him. Since then no monarch has been allowed inside the House of Commons

At his home in Kensington Square, John Stuart Mill left his friend Thomas Carlyle’s manuscript lying around and his maid burned it

When Peter the Great stayed in the Deptford home of John Evelyn in 1698 he trashed his garden and drank all his wine

Now given the postcode of E20 the 2012 Olympic Park will share its address with Walford the London area in the fictional BBC soap Eastenders

Cadbury’s Whole Nut chocolate bar is by far the biggest seller in its dispensing machines at tube stations, the worst seller isn’t disclosed

During a restoration project in the 1920s, tennis balls were found in the rafters of Westminster Hall, the oldest part of Parliament

Diarist Samuel Pepys buried his parmesan cheese and wine in his garden to protect them from the Great Fire of London in 1666

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: Student protests

On 13 March 1967 hundreds of students at the London School of Economics took part in a sit-in over disciplinary action taken against two union officials, following their part in a demonstration on 31 January against the appointment of the LSE’s next director, Dr Walter Adams, in which a college porter died of a heart attack during the demonstrations. Students opposed the appointment as he had links with Ian Smith’s racist regime.

On 13 March 1961 five members of Portland Spy Ring went on trial at the Old Bailey charged with plotting to pass plans of HMS Dreadnought, Britain’s first nuclear submarine, they were all found guilty

The London Hackney Carriage Act makes it illegal to hail a cab whilst the vehicle is moving, thankfully the police don’t enforce the law

London’s first Russian Orthodox Cathedral was consecrated in 2000 look down on its blue onion dome from Chiswick Flyover’s eastbound lane

The corpse of Henry V’s wife Catherine de Valois was dug up and put on display for 200 years, Samuel Pepys records kissing the lips for a bet

In 1940 Winston Churchill met at St. Ermin’s Hotel promising to ‘Set Europe Ablaze’ the genesis of the SOE which ultimately became the SAS

Harry Potter’s magic luggage trolley sticks out of a wall between platforms 8/9 not 9/10 because J.K.Rowling was thinking of Euston

Kaspar the Cat was a large feline figure used at the Savoy Hotel if a table setting totalled 13 increasing it beyond that unlucky number

Ping-pong bar Bounce at 121 Holborn is on the site where John Jacques created and patented the game in 1901

The taximeter invented in 1891 giving the cab its alternative name wasn’t used in London until 1907 in a attempt to prevent rows about fares

In the Royal Mews the carriages are the responsibility of the Master of the Horse a position created by Edward III after the Siege of Calais

The world’s first ATM was installed outside Barclays Bank, Enfield in 1967 it was opened by actor/comedian Reg Varney who withdrew £10

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.