Category Archives: Puppydog tails

Test Your Knowledge: March

Ihope you enjoyed February’s questions and even managed to answer a few. This month’s quiz is about firsts in London I’ve posed these questions before so that should give you a fighting chance. As before the correct answer will turn green when it’s clicked upon and expanded to give more information. The incorrect answers will turn red giving the correct explanation.

1. What was invented in a workshop in Hatton Garden in the 1880s?
The world’s first machine gun
CORRECT Hiram Maxim was an American who moved to London, opened a workshop in Hatton Garden, near the junction with Clerkenwell Road and eventually became a naturalised Briton and a knight of the realm. His Maxim Gun invented in 1881 was the first fully automatic machine gun. At Shangari River in 1893 Cecil Rhodes’ troops, armed with a Maxim Gun, only lost four men and killed 1,500 natives. Not content with killing native Africans he went on to invent the first auto-resetting mousetrap.
The world’s first tank
WRONG Hiram Maxim was an American who moved to London, opened a workshop in Hatton Garden, near the junction with Clerkenwell Road and eventually became a naturalised Briton and a knight of the realm. His Maxim Gun invented in 1881 was the first fully automatic machine gun. At Shangari River in 1893 Cecil Rhodes’ troops, armed with a Maxim Gun, only lost four men and killed 1,500 natives. Not content with killing native Africans he went on to invent the first auto-resetting mousetrap.
The world’s first flame thrower
WRONG Hiram Maxim was an American who moved to London, opened a workshop in Hatton Garden, near the junction with Clerkenwell Road and eventually became a naturalised Briton and a knight of the realm. His Maxim Gun invented in 1881 was the first fully automatic machine gun. At Shangari River in 1893 Cecil Rhodes’ troops, armed with a Maxim Gun, only lost four men and killed 1,500 natives. Not content with killing native Africans he went on to invent the first auto-resetting mousetrap.
2. What ‘first’ did Colonel Pierpoint admire before he died?
The first pedestrian crossing
WRONG At his expense in 1864 Colonel Pierpoint had London’s first traffic island constructed in St. James’s Street opposite his club in Pall Mall. On its completion, his excitement (and possible inebriation) encouraged him to dash across the road to admire his contribution to society. Alas, he was knocked down and killed by a passing cab.
The world’s first traffic island
CORRECT At his expense in 1864 Colonel Pierpoint had London’s first traffic island constructed in St. James’s Street opposite his club in Pall Mall. On its completion, his excitement (and possible inebriation) encouraged him to dash across the road to admire his contribution to society. Alas, he was knocked down and killed by a passing cab.
The first traffic light
WRONG At his expense in 1864 Colonel Pierpoint had London’s first traffic island constructed in St. James’s Street opposite his club in Pall Mall. On its completion, his excitement (and possible inebriation) encouraged him to dash across the road to admire his contribution to society. Alas, he was knocked down and killed by a passing cab.
3. Coram’s Fields commemorates a London first that revolutionised the world. But what?
Charity
CORRECT In 1739 Captain Thomas Coram, a London merchant was appalled by the number of abandoned babies he saw, he set up the Foundling Hospital, the world’s first charity, Handel and Hogarth were among the benefactors of the world’s first incorporated charity. Coram’s Fields are unique in only allowing adults if accompanied by a child.
Vaccine
WRONG In 1739 Captain Thomas Coram, a London merchant was appalled by the number of abandoned babies he saw, he set up the Foundling Hospital, the world’s first charity, Handel and Hogarth were among the benefactors of the world’s first incorporated charity. Coram’s Fields are unique in only allowing adults if accompanied by a child.
Statistics
WRONG In 1739 Captain Thomas Coram, a London merchant was appalled by the number of abandoned babies he saw, he set up the Foundling Hospital, the world’s first charity, Handel and Hogarth were among the benefactors of the world’s first incorporated charity. Coram’s Fields are unique in only allowing adults if accompanied by a child.
4. On 10th January 1946, the first meeting took place of what international organisation?
World Health Organisation
WRONG The First General Assembly of the United Nations, with 51 nations represented, was held in the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, a successor to the League of Nations, which was thought to have been ineffective in preventing World War II.
Oxfam
WRONG The First General Assembly of the United Nations, with 51 nations represented, was held in the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, a successor to the League of Nations, which was thought to have been ineffective in preventing World War II.
United Nations
CORRECT The First General Assembly of the United Nations, with 51 nations represented, was held in the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, a successor to the League of Nations, which was thought to have been ineffective in preventing World War II.
5. Five years before the last public hanging at Newgate, what was the world’s first when completed?
The first urban underground
CORRECT Opening in 1863, the Metropolitan Railway between Paddington (then called Bishop’s Road) and Farringdon was the world’s first urban underground passenger-carrying railway. Confusingly, the original platform now serves the Hammersmith & City Line.
The first tramline
WRONG Opening in 1863, the Metropolitan Railway between Paddington (then called Bishop’s Road) and Farringdon was the world’s first urban underground passenger-carrying railway. Confusingly, the original platform now serves the Hammersmith & City Line.
The first scheduled bus service
WRONG Opening in 1863, the Metropolitan Railway between Paddington (then called Bishop’s Road) and Farringdon was the world’s first urban underground passenger-carrying railway. Confusingly, the original platform now serves the Hammersmith & City Line.
6. Nearly every country now has one, but Croydon saw the world’s first. But what was it that is now commonplace?
A radio station
WRONG In 1920 the world’s first international airport opened in Croydon, offering flights to Europe. A remodelling 8 years saw the world’s first purpose-built airport terminal and airport hotel.
An international airport
CORRECT In 1920 the world’s first international airport opened in Croydon, offering flights to Europe. A remodelling 8 years saw the world’s first purpose-built airport terminal and airport hotel.
A department store
WRONG In 1920 the world’s first international airport opened in Croydon, offering flights to Europe. A remodelling 8 years saw the world’s first purpose-built airport terminal and airport hotel.
7. Today we take it for granted, but what world’s first was constructed near Holborn Viaduct?
The world’s first water pumping station
WRONG The world’s first public electricity generating station was opened in 1882 to light the lamps on the bridge. Designed by Thomas Edison, it was steam-powered and supplied DC current, and predated New York’s power station by some months.
The world’s first sewage treatment works
WRONG The world’s first public electricity generating station was opened in 1882 to light the lamps on the bridge. Designed by Thomas Edison, it was steam-powered and supplied DC current, and predated New York’s power station by some months.
The world’s first public electricity generating station
CORRECT The world’s first public electricity generating station was opened in 1882 to light the lamps on the bridge. Designed by Thomas Edison, it was steam-powered and supplied DC current, and predated New York’s power station by some months.
8. What invention was first demonstrated in a room above what is now the Bar Italia coffee lounge in Frith Street, Soho?
The espresso coffee machine
WRONG John Logie Baird began his research into the transmission of visual images in Hastings in the early 1920s, but in 1924 rented an attic room at 22 Frith Street to use as a workshop. On 26th January 1926 members of the Royal Institution made up the first television audience. A blue plaque is displayed above Bar Italia commemorating that day.
The vacuum cleaner
WRONG John Logie Baird began his research into the transmission of visual images in Hastings in the early 1920s, but in 1924 rented an attic room at 22 Frith Street to use as a workshop. On 26th January 1926 members of the Royal Institution made up the first television audience. A blue plaque is displayed above Bar Italia commemorating that day.
The television
CORRECT John Logie Baird began his research into the transmission of visual images in Hastings in the early 1920s, but in 1924 rented an attic room at 22 Frith Street to use as a workshop. On 26th January 1926 members of the Royal Institution made up the first television audience. A blue plaque is displayed above Bar Italia commemorating that day.
9. What did Joseph Merlin demonstrate for the first time at a masquerade party in Soho in 1760?
Roller skates
CORRECT Roller skates were first demonstrated at famous society hostess’ Mrs Cornelys Soho Square house by clock and instrument maker John Joseph Merlin. Making an appearance at the party gliding across the floor on boots that he had adapted by fitting them with wheels, unfortunately, he had failed to devise a method of stopping himself and he crashed into a large mirror.
The kaleidoscope
WRONG Roller skates were first demonstrated at famous society hostess’ Mrs Cornelys Soho Square house by clock and instrument maker John Joseph Merlin. Making an appearance at the party gliding across the floor on boots that he had adapted by fitting them with wheels, unfortunately, he had failed to devise a method of stopping himself and he crashed into a large mirror.
The penny-farthing bicycle
WRONG Roller skates were first demonstrated at famous society hostess’ Mrs Cornelys Soho Square house by clock and instrument maker John Joseph Merlin. Making an appearance at the party gliding across the floor on boots that he had adapted by fitting them with wheels, unfortunately, he had failed to devise a method of stopping himself and he crashed into a large mirror.
10. In 1905 two brothers named Stratton were convicted of robbery and murder at a paint shop in Deptford High Street. What methodology was used to secure convictions?
The first identikit portrait from a witness, the local milkman
WRONG On 27th March 1905, Chapman’s Oil and Paint Shop was raided and the shopkeeper murdered. A thumb mark was left on the emptied cash box. Using a method of identification that had been in use for a couple of years, it was the first time the Crown achieved a murder conviction and one of the first in the world to use the methodology still in use today.
The first case in which fingerprints were successfully used to convict
CORRECT On 27th March 1905, Chapman’s Oil and Paint Shop was raided and the shopkeeper murdered. A thumb mark was left on the emptied cash box. Using a method of identification that had been in use for a couple of years, it was the first time the Crown achieved a murder conviction and one of the first in the world to use the methodology still in use today.
Their getaway car, which had an early number plate was identified leading to the police tracking them down
WRONG On 27th March 1905, Chapman’s Oil and Paint Shop was raided and the shopkeeper murdered. A thumb mark was left on the emptied cash box. Using a method of identification that had been in use for a couple of years, it was the first time the Crown achieved a murder conviction and one of the first in the world to use the methodology still in use today.

Don’t Touch the Walrus

Rules, regulations and by-laws, don’t they get you down? And London has more than its share.

Don’t touch the walrus or sit on the iceberg

The walrus has been on display at the Horniman Museum for more than a century. One of the most popular exhibits in the museum, probably due to its odd shape as it appears stretched and ‘overstuffed’ as it lacks the skin folds characteristic of a walrus in the wild. Over one hundred years ago, only a few people had ever seen a live walrus, so it is hardly surprising that ours does not look true to life. He sits on his own ‘iceberg’.

Don’t feed the pigeons

Ken Livingstone, as the first London mayor, dealt with the plague in Trafalgar Square of what he called “flying rats”. Those guilty of the offence can be punished with a £500 fine. When the square was pedestrianised Westminster Council realised the North Terrace outside the National Gallery was not covered by the ban and amended the law to prevent determined feeders from exploiting a loophole.

Don’t climb on the lions

Consultants conducted a survey in 2011 and discovered corrosion, scratches and ‘cracking’ on the lions in Trafalgar Square, and found litter pushed into their mouths.
The inspectors also discovered that the bronze on the south-east facing lion had been worn down to a thickness of just 0.2 inches, up to three times thinner than the same parts of the other lions. The same lion was seen to vibrate when visitors climbed on its back. They suggested that children stop acting out scenes from The Lion King./span>

Don’t touch a pelican

Pelican-touching is ‘expressly forbidden’ should you happen to find one in a London park, according to the Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997. But should you have a desire to get your fingers bitten, you can pet one if ‘prior permission is obtained’. Presumably from the park, not the pelican.

Don’t mate with the Queen’s corgis

Apparently, you were once forbidden to allow your dogs to mate with one of the Monarch’s corgis. Presumably, this is to avoid any unwanted mongrel offspring, the dogs that is.

Don’t kill a swan

The Queen doesn’t own all the breeds of swan in England, but she does have first dips on mute swans. But she’s only allowed to eat them, as long as she and her diners are guests of St. John’s College, Cambridge. Mute swans are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and killing them is punishable with a £5,000 fine.

Don’t handle a salmon suspiciously

Under the well-known Salmon Act of 1986, it’s illegal to handle salmon ‘under suspicious circumstances’. You’ve been warned.

Test Your Knowledge: February

Ihope you enjoyed January’s questions and even managed to answer a few. This month’s quiz is about last in London. As before the correct answer will turn green when it’s clicked upon and expanded to give more information. The incorrect answers will turn red giving the correct explanation.

1. Where is the last remaining tollgate in London?
College Road, Dulwich
CORRECT The toll is owned by Dulwich College, the nearby public school. An old board shows the tolls, which dates from the end of the 18th-century, is still there. Taking a flock of sheep through the gate costs 2d. Pedestrians can pass through it for free.
Well Walk, Hampstead
WRONG The toll is owned by Dulwich College, the nearby public school. An old board shows the tolls, which dates from the end of the 18th-century, is still there. Taking a flock of sheep through the gate costs 2d. Pedestrians can pass through it for free.
Strand on the Green, Chiswick
WRONG The toll is owned by Dulwich College, the nearby public school. An old board shows the tolls, which dates from the end of the 18th-century, is still there. Taking a flock of sheep through the gate costs 2d. Pedestrians can pass through it for free.
2. Who was the last person to be executed in the Tower of London?
Henry Laurens, an American spy during the Revolutionary War
WRONG Josef Jakobs had been parachuted into southern England in July 1941. He injured himself on landing and was soon captured. He was executed by firing squad on a miniature rifle range in the King’s House in the Tower. Carl Lody was executed in November 1914. Henry Laurens, the only American ever imprisoned in the Tower, was there between 1779 and 1781 but was eventually released.
Josef Jakobs, a German spy during the Second World War
CORRECT Josef Jakobs had been parachuted into southern England in July 1941. He injured himself on landing and was soon captured. He was executed by firing squad on a miniature rifle range in the King’s House in the Tower. Carl Lody was executed in November 1914. Henry Laurens, the only American ever imprisoned in the Tower, was there between 1779 and 1781 but was eventually released.
Carl Lody, a German spy during the First World War
WRONG Josef Jakobs had been parachuted into southern England in July 1941. He injured himself on landing and was soon captured. He was executed by firing squad on a miniature rifle range in the King’s House in the Tower. Carl Lody was executed in November 1914. Henry Laurens, the only American ever imprisoned in the Tower, was there between 1779 and 1781 but was eventually released.
3. Where did the last London tram run to on 6 July 1952?
New Cross
CORRECT The first electric trams appeared on London’s streets in 1901 following on from horse-drawn trams which were introduced in 1861. On that final run, the tram’s journey time was extended by almost 3 hours as crowds of cheering Londoners surrounded it along various stages of the route from Woolwich to New Cross.
Elephant and Castle
WRONG The first electric trams appeared on London’s streets in 1901 following on from horse-drawn trams which were introduced in 1861. On that final run, the tram’s journey time was extended by almost 3 hours as crowds of cheering Londoners surrounded it along various stages of the route from Woolwich to New Cross.
Woolwich
WRONG The first electric trams appeared on London’s streets in 1901 following on from horse-drawn trams which were introduced in 1861. On that final run, the tram’s journey time was extended by almost 3 hours as crowds of cheering Londoners surrounded it along various stages of the route from Woolwich to New Cross.
4. In the 1950s the Thames was declared biologically dead. How many fish species are there today?
Less than 50
WRONG In 2016 according to Ian Tokelove of the London Wildlife Trust, there are over 125 types of fish in the Tidal Thames measured from the estuary mouth to Teddington Lock.
Between 50 and 100
WRONG In 2016 according to Ian Tokelove of the London Wildlife Trust, there are over 125 types of fish in the Tidal Thames measured from the estuary mouth to Teddington Lock.
More than 120
CORRECT In 2016 according to Ian Tokelove of the London Wildlife Trust, there are over 125 types of fish in the Tidal Thames measured from the estuary mouth to Teddington Lock.
5. Which London theatre, known as a writers’ theatre, led to the abolition of theatrical censorship in 1968?
Royal Court Theatre
CORRECT From 1737 until 1968 all plays had to be licensed by the Lord Chamberlain’s office before they could appear on the London stage. The Royal Court had three John Osborne plays refused permission to be performed. Outrage over the bans led to the end of theatrical censorship.
The Donmar Warehouse
WRONG From 1737 until 1968 all plays had to be licensed by the Lord Chamberlain’s office before they could appear on the London stage. The Royal Court had three John Osborne plays refused permission to be performed. Outrage over the bans led to the end of theatrical censorship.
Soho Theatre
WRONG From 1737 until 1968 all plays had to be licensed by the Lord Chamberlain’s office before they could appear on the London stage. The Royal Court had three John Osborne plays refused permission to be performed. Outrage over the bans led to the end of theatrical censorship.
6. Spencer Perceval became the last (and the only) British Prime Minister to be assassinated. But where did he die?
On the staircase in 10 Downing Street
WRONG Spencer Perceval was shot dead in the lobby of the House of Commons at about 5:15 pm by John Bellingham who believed that the government was to blame for his difficulties trading with Russia. He was detained four days after the murder, was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. He was hanged at Newgate Prison one week after the assassination.
In the lobby of the House of Commons
CORRECT Spencer Perceval was shot dead in the lobby of the House of Commons at about 5:15 pm by John Bellingham who believed that the government was to blame for his difficulties trading with Russia. He was detained four days after the murder, was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. He was hanged at Newgate Prison one week after the assassination.
Outside his house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields
WRONG Spencer Perceval was shot dead in the lobby of the House of Commons at about 5:15 pm by John Bellingham who believed that the government was to blame for his difficulties trading with Russia. He was detained four days after the murder, was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. He was hanged at Newgate Prison one week after the assassination.
7. Described in Parliament by Benjamin Disraeli as “The Gondolas of London” and invented during Victoria’s reign, the Hansom Cab continued in use into the 20th-century. What year was the last license surrendered?
1927
WRONG The last horse-drawn Hackney carriage license was surrendered on 3 April 1947, in fact for the first three decades of the 20th-century, the Hansom Cab outnumbered motorized vehicles.
1937
WRONG The last horse-drawn Hackney carriage license was surrendered on 3 April 1947, in fact for the first three decades of the 20th-century, the Hansom Cab outnumbered motorized vehicles.
1947
CORRECT The last horse-drawn Hackney carriage license was surrendered on 3 April 1947, in fact for the first three decades of the 20th-century, the Hansom Cab outnumbered motorized vehicles.
8. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre can lay claim to being a last. But what last in London?
The last open-air theatre to be built
WRONG Shakespeare’s Globe had to have special permission to have a thatched roof – there had been a law against thatched buildings in London since the Great Fire in 1666. It took 6,000 bundles of reeds from Norfolk, the reed beds only grow 4,000 a year, a year and a half’s reed supply.
The last timber-framed building to be erected in London
WRONG Shakespeare’s Globe had to have special permission to have a thatched roof – there had been a law against thatched buildings in London since the Great Fire in 1666. It took 6,000 bundles of reeds from Norfolk, the reed beds only grow 4,000 a year, a year and a half’s reed supply.
The last construction with a thatched roof
CORRECT Shakespeare’s Globe had to have special permission to have a thatched roof – there had been a law against thatched buildings in London since the Great Fire in 1666. It took 6,000 bundles of reeds from Norfolk, the reed beds only grow 4,000 a year, a year and a half’s reed supply.
9. On 12 April 2004 Londoners witnessed the last journey down the Thames of an iconic passenger-carrying vehicle. What was that?
Concorde on route to a museum
CORRECT Destined for display at the National Museum of Flight near Edinburgh, with no valid CAA certificate and no crews to fly her, Concorde’s 40-tonne fuselage was carefully driven out of Heathrow on a custom-built trailer costing £1million and carried to the Thames at Isleworth. A purpose-designed heavy barge took her down the Thames on its journey to Scotland.
Waverly the last ocean-going paddle steamer
WRONG Destined for display at the National Museum of Flight near Edinburgh, with no valid CAA certificate and no crews to fly her, Concorde’s 40-tonne fuselage was carefully driven out of Heathrow on a custom-built trailer costing £1million and carried to the Thames at Isleworth. A purpose-designed heavy barge took her down the Thames on its journey to Scotland.
One of the last Routemaster buses destined for the scrap
WRONG Destined for display at the National Museum of Flight near Edinburgh, with no valid CAA certificate and no crews to fly her, Concorde’s 40-tonne fuselage was carefully driven out of Heathrow on a custom-built trailer costing £1million and carried to the Thames at Isleworth. A purpose-designed heavy barge took her down the Thames on its journey to Scotland.
10. Comics talk of ‘dying’ on stage, but which comedian made his last appearance and actually died on a London stage?
Arthur Askey
WRONG On 15 April 1984 Tommy Cooper collapsed from a heart attack in front of millions of television viewers midway through his act on the London Weekend Television variety show ‘Live from Her Majesty’s’ it was transmitted live from Her Majesty’s Theatre in Haymarket.
Tommy Cooper
CORRECT On 15 April 1984 Tommy Cooper collapsed from a heart attack in front of millions of television viewers midway through his act on the London Weekend Television variety show ‘Live from Her Majesty’s’ it was transmitted live from Her Majesty’s Theatre in Haymarket.
Dickie Henderson
WRONG On 15 April 1984 Tommy Cooper collapsed from a heart attack in front of millions of television viewers midway through his act on the London Weekend Television variety show ‘Live from Her Majesty’s’ it was transmitted live from Her Majesty’s Theatre in Haymarket.

Houston, we have a problem

These might be the most memorable, if incorrect, words that were spoken during the Apollo years. Tom Hanks was the first to speak them, playing Jim Lovell in Apollo 13. But it was Lovell’s fellow astronaut on the Apollo 8 mission who’s quote has changed the world. Bill Anders, who took the famous Earthrise shot, now a pillar of today’s environmental movement, would like to say: “We came to explore the moon and what we discovered was the Earth”.

In keeping with astronauts being at the forefront of the green movement you can find them nailed to planes, London plane trees, that is.

American astronauts are commemorated along the western side of Kennington Road, some fifteen name tags could once be found up the half-mile stretch from the Imperial War Museum to Kennington Lane.

Some mystery surrounds the placement of the nameplates. The much-lamented Smoke magazine noted that the names had been present for at least 20 years, and that was 9 years ago.

Predictably conspiracy theories have speculated that the trees might have been planted with seeds brought back from the moon, completely dismissing the fact that these mighty specimens are well over 50 years old.

For the record, here are the 15 names, but alas not Lovell or Anders are commemorated on Kennington Road, maybe they once were as those nailed to trees are down from 17 at the time of the Smoke article.

Eugene A Cernan

John W Young

Neil A Armstrong

Edwin E Aldrin

Alan L Bean

Fred W Haise Jr

John L Swigert Jr

Stuart A Roosa

Alan B Shepherd

David R Scott

Edgar D Mitchell

Alfred M Worden

James B Irwin

Charles M Duke Jr

Frank Borman

Bankside Twelfth Night

When it was quiet, as it often was during January, I would set-up on Globe Walk hoping to get a fare from tourists.

On more than one occasion, on this day, being Twelfth Night, I saw a very unusual tradition, as a man shrouded in a green suit emerged from the River Thames in a rowing boat accompanied by a merry posse. This was the extraordinary Holly Man, the Winter guise of the Green Man (from our pub signs, pagan myths and folklore), decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage, piped over the River Thames, with the devil Beelzebub.

By Shakespeare’s Globe, led by the Bankside Mummers and their London Beadle, the Holly Man ‘brought in the green’ and toast or ‘wassail’ the people, the River Thames and the Globe (an old tradition encouraging good growth).

It was the ceremony of the traditional beginning of the Twelfth Night celebrations that marked the end of the Christmas period before people return to work.

The ‘Mummers’ then processed to the Bankside Jetty and performed the traditional freestyle St. George Folk Combat Play, featuring the Turkey Sniper, Clever Legs, the Old ‘Oss and many others, dressed in spectacular costumes.

The play is full of wild verse and boisterous action, a time-honoured part of the season. Cakes distributed at the end of the play have a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those from the crowd who find them are hailed King Bean and Queen Pea for the day and crowned with ceremony.

The King and Queen then lead the people through the streets to the historic George Inn Southwark, for a fine warming-up with the Fowlers Troop, Storytelling, the Kissing Wishing Tree, Dancing and Mulled Wine.

Whether this performance, recorded since the Crusades, will take place today I doubt.