Category Archives: London trivia

London Trivia: One in the eye

On 21 May 1966 Henry Cooper lost to world champ Cassius Clay in the sixth round of a fight to retain the world heavyweight championship. Cooper’s hopes were dashed in the sixth round when the referee stopped the fight – a deep gash over his left eye forced him to concede victory to 24-year-old Clay. 40,000 spectators watched at Arsenal’s football ground as Cooper, aged 32, fought bravely with his big left hooks to battle against Clay’s quick footwork and fast punches.

On 21 May 1827 the Standard was founded, it became the dominant evening newspaper for London and is now the only one published a that time of day

Thief-Taker General Jonathan Wild sent more than 120 men to the gallows but was hanged at Tyburn for running gangs of thieves and highwaymen

When Camden’s Egyptian style cigarette factory opened in 1927 the road was filled with sand and opera singers performed Aida

In 1907 William Whiteley was shot dead in his Bayswater store by a young man claiming to be his illegitimate son

When Napoleon was thinking of invading England his failed attempt was mocked by an unusual ale house sign: ‘My Arse in a Bandbox’

The Grapes, Limehouse was the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ ‘Six Jolly Fellowship Porters’ in Our Mutual Friend

The Chelsea Flower Show (The May Flower Show of the Royal Horticulture Society) has been held at the Royal Hospital since 1913

Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert, saved the Oval cricket ground from closure only six years after it opened, desperate for funds they had considered adding poultry shows to the venue’s activities

Before CrossRail was named the Elizabeth line, Belsize Park was the only part of the London Underground to use a Z in its name

Wall’s Sausages used to be located at 113 Jermyn Street, where the meat for their products was ground by a donkey operating a treadmill

‘Hobson’s Choice’ comes from the livery stable owner Thomas Hobson who would drive from Cambridge to the Bull Inn, Bishopsgate Street

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: Are you sure it’s safe?

On 14 May 1856 the Old Bailey heard that Dr. William Palmer had poisoned with strychnine his friend John Cook. Heavily in debt to the tune of £4,000 due to his love of gambling on the horses he had taken out insurance policies one many of his victims. His mother-in-law, wife, four of his children, his creditor, brother and housekeeper had all met with premature deaths. Convicted he was hanged at Stafford prison on 14 June 1856. Stepping out on the gallows he asked “Are you sure it’s safe?”.

On 14 May 1932 the BBC made their last transmission from their Savoy Hill headquarters transferring to the new Langham Place Broadcasting House

Serial killer Dennis Nilsen once lived at 195 Melrose Avenue, Cricklewood the scene of 13 murders. Nilsen was sentenced to 6 life sentences

The GDP of London is significantly larger than that of several European countries, including Belgium and Sweden

Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg who lived off Farringdon Road predicted there would be a special part in heaven reserved for the English

A white spike at the south end of London Bridge commemorates a practice of displaying traitors heads dipped in pitch on the original bridge

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

6ft 5in circus strongman Carl Dane in 1926 was the first to pull a London bus with 12 passengers inside using only his teeth

When he was Prime Minister the Duke of Wellington held indoor races along Downing Street corridors with men pulling women seated on rugs

In 2014, not a single 07.29am Brighton–London Victoria train reached its destination on time after failing to roll in at its scheduled time of 8.35am on a single occasion

When Selfridges opened in 1909 their information bureau answered queries on subjects from crossword clues to government stats

The City’s Square Mile is now an imperfect 1.16 square miles following 1990s boundary changes incorporating an area north of London Wall

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: Good decorative order

On 7 May 1849 Lady Blessington and her lover, the Comte d’Orsay left for France. The purpose of their hurried departure was to escape their debtors after having been served papers demanding repayment. Phillips, the auctioneer, who gave his name to the famous auction house sold her house with its contents in Kensington. His advertising blurb stated: ‘Grove House . . . required neither substantial repair nor decorations as very large sums have been lately expended thereon’.

On 7 May 1960 the London Museum opened a reconstruction of an Iron Age settlement found on the site of the BOAC air terminal at Heathrow

In the 1940s and 1950s Metropolitan Police Officers using their own bicycles to cover police beats were paid an allowance of threepence

The New Exchange was a kind of early shopping mall which was built on the south side of the Strand in 1608 and stood there until 1737

All but one of the ravens at the Tower of London died from stress during the Blitz, fortuitously as legend has it that should they leave the Tower England will fall

London was once the capital of six countries in World War II it was safe haven for the governments of Poland, Norway, Belgium, Holland, France

Jarvis Cocker, lead singer of band Pulp, wrote a song called 59 Lyndhurst Grove after being thrown out of a party at that address in Peckham

The first London Eye was erected in Earls Court in 1894 for an Empire of India exhibition, 300ft high, as opposed to 442 for the London Eye

The foppish son and heir apparent of King George II died in Leicester House as a result of being struck in the throat with a cricket ball

Cockfosters Underground station was originally going to be called Trent Park or ‘Cock Fosters’ (an early spelling of the area’s name), the original site hoarding displayed the name as a single word

In 1981 Soho had 184 sex establishments today only Brewer Street the upstairs windows of Old Compton Street and alleys near Berwick Street belie its past

At 135ft Candover Street off Riding House Street is London’s shortest street, Rotherhithe Street the longest named street at 1.5 miles

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: Birth of an ideal

On 30 April 1907 for 20 days history was in the making. At the Brotherhood Church, which once stood on the corner of Southgate Road and Balmes Road, the 5th Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party was held. Attendees included Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Rosa Luxembourg and Maxim Gorky. The rest is history. The site is now occupied by a mixed-use residential and business building, with the exact site of the church now a Tesco Express.

On 30 April 1980 gunmen took over the Iranian embassy at Prince’s Gate, under the full glare of the media the SAS stormed the building on 5 May killing 5 and releasing the hostages

In 1906 Messrs Spillberg, Nabian and Aaroris of Nelson Street, Stepney were convicted of smuggling saccharin which then was considered a drug

Liverpool Street’s Great Eastern Hotel (now the Andaz) opened in 1884 and was at one time the only hotel in the City

Builders working on the Builders working on the Bakerloo Line are reported to have suffered from the bends while tunnelling under the Thames

During World War II and the Nazi occupation of Holland Queen Wilhelmina moved her Dutch government into her London home at 77 Chester Square, Belgravia

The Cliff Richard musical Summer Holiday had a bus bound for ‘London to the South of France via Dover Paris’ most was shot in LT’s bus works Aldenham

Museum of London tracing the capital’s history from Prehistoric times to the present day is the largest urban history museum in the world

In 1966 actor, bodybuilder and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger lived at 335 Romford Road Ilford as a guest of bodybuilder Charles Bennett

The first section of the Underground ran between Paddington and Farringdon Street. The same section now forms part of the Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines

Miles Coverdale who supervised the production of the first complete bible in English in 1535 was once Rector of St Magnus the Martyr

When the Millennium Dome was built, a Blue Peter capsule was buried containing amongst other items a spice girls cd, a tamagotchi and a Blue Peter badge!

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: For valour

On 23 April 1390 (St. George’s Day) a joust was held between Lord Welles, Ambassador to Scotland, and Sir David de Lindsay, a Scot, on London Bridge. This was a result of an argument as to the valour of the two nations. On the third run Lindsay unhorsed Welles so easily that the crowd began yelling that he had nailed himself to his saddle. To prove he had not, Lindsay jumped off his horse and then back on, while still wearing his full suit of armour.

On 23 April 1702 gout ridden Queen Anne became the first monarch to be carried to her coronation and wore a £12 wig to improve her demeanour

Reggie Kray and Frances Shea’s photographer at their wedding at St James the Great, Bethnal Green Road in April 1965 was David Bailey

Dr Samuel Johnson once owned 17 properties in London, only one of which survives – Dr Johnson’s Memorial House in Gough Square

18th century Hampstead was a spa resort where people came to take the waters which reputedly had health giving properties

In April 1905 Vladimir Lenin lived at 16 Percy Circus, since demolished and replaced with the rear of Kings Cross Royal Scot Travelodge hotel

Actor, dancer, comedian and clown Joseph Grimaldi lived at 56 Exmouth Market, Islington from 1818 to 1828, there is now a park off Pentonville Road named after him

Coram’s Fields park and playground in Bloomsbury is unique in that adults are only allowed to enter if accompanied by a child

The sport of golf, which originated in Scotland, was first played in England on Blackheath in 1608. The Royal Blackheath Golf Club was one of the first golf associations established (1766) outside Scotland

London’s heavily congested streets mean that a taxi’s average speed of 17mph is slower than that attained by Hansom cabs over 100 years ago

The ‘porter’ style of beer was officially invented at the Bell Brewhouse in Shoreditch by Ralph Hardwood in 1722

Marc Isambard Brunel came up with his idea on how to dig the Thames’ Tunnel whilst in debtors’ prison watching a shipworm bore through 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.