Missing London Quiz

These past weeks London has been missing much. Traffic is almost non-existent, the Tube is empty, and there is a noticeable absence cabs on the road. So for today’s quiz, the questions are about something missing. For the first question, I’ll start with a favourite pub quiz question and something slightly disingenuous.

Questions

1. What is missing from the name of St. John’s Wood tube station?

(a) The signage is not in the Underground’s familiar typeface
(b) The word ‘mackerel’ cannot be made from the station’s name
(c) Although near Lord’s Cricket Ground no sign indicates in which direction to find it


2. Most know of Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, but why was it empty?

(a) They run out of money before commissioning a statue
(b) The committee couldn’t decide a worthy to surmount it
(c) The chairman of the board was assassinated before a statue was decided upon


3. Why are there no electricity pylons visible on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park?

(a) The pylons are in underground utility tunnels
(b) The pylons would interfere with City’ Airport’s flight path
(c) The pylons would have to have been painted in the Olympic colours


4. What did Ray Davies of The Kings nearly call ‘Waterloo Sunset’?

(a) Muswell Hill Daybreak
(b) Waterloo Sunrise
(c) Liverpool Sunset


5. The Theatre, Shoreditch, opened by James Burbage in 1576, was one of London’s earliest playhouses. It was taken down in 1598, but what happened to its timbers?

(a) They were used to build The Globe on Bankside
(b) They were used to burn Burbage and his company of actors at the stake for heresy
(c) They were used in the construction of the warship The Mary Rose


6. The U.S. Army’s signal centre was based in an unused deep tunnel beneath which tube station?

(a) St. John’s Wood
(b) Hampstead
(c) Goodge Street


7. There are many mythological rivers and streams supposedly running under London, but which of the following holds no water today?

(a) Beverley Brook
(b) Walbrook
(c) Houndsditch


8. There are over 40 ‘ghost stations’ in the Underground network, but what makes Bull and Bush between Hampstead and Holders Green especially unusual?

(a) It never opened
(b) It was built for the exclusive use of Frank Pick, the first chief executive of London Transport
(c) It was closed when a ceiling collapsed revealing the remains of a plague pit


9. CH N. Katz was one of the last Jewish businesses to continue trading on Brick Lane. What did Mr Katz sell?

(a) Boxes and crates
(b) String and paper bags
(c) Cigars and tobacco


10. What did the 19th-century trader Charles Jamrach sell from his long-vanished store on Radcliff Highway in the East End?

(a) Opium and cannabis
(c) Wax models of famous people of the period
(c) Exotic animals


And as a bonus: Why do cabbies sometimes call the junction of Kensington Gore and Exhibition Road ‘Hot and Cold Corner’?

(a) The wind blows along Kensington Gore but Exhibition Road is sheltered, making it a better place to get a fare
(b) The Royal Geographical Society building on the corner has two statues, one of David Livingstone and one of Ernest Shackleton
(c) Cabbies travelling up Exhibition Road face the dilemma of going north to Paddington or west to Kensington High Street for their next fare


Answers

1. What is missing from the name of St. John’s Wood tube station?

(b) The word mackerel cannot be made from the letters of St. John’s Wood station, bizarrely, a surprising number of people care about this question, ever since a group of Cambridge students came up with it after an evening in a pub about 30 years ago, the mackerel-tube question has been a meme that refuses to die.


2. Most know of Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, but why was it empty?

(a) When Sir Charles Barry designed Trafalgar Square in the 1840s he included four plinths. One carries a statue of George IV while two others have statues of two generals Sir Charles James Napier and Sir Henry Havelock. The fourth plinth, in the north-west corner, was intended to hold a statue of King William IV on horseback but the money ran out. To this day no agreement has been reached on who should be celebrated there. True to British propensity to compromise, in the mid-Nineties the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group was set up to fill the gap with a series of temporary art commissions.


3. Why are there no electricity pylons visible on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park?

(a) Decontamination and beautification work to prepare the site for the London 2012 Games (and future use as a park) included digging two 3.7-mile tunnels to conceal fifty-two less-than-lovely electricity pylons. Spoil sufficient to fill Wembley Stadium was dug out and you may be shocked to learn that all that electrical cable would stretch from London to Nottingham, a distance of 127 miles.


4. What did Ray Davies of The Kings nearly call ‘Waterloo Sunset’?

(c) The Muswell Hill-born Davies had originally composed a song heralding the demise of the so-called Merseybeat groups from Liverpool. However, after The Beatles released ‘Penny Lane’, he transformed it into a homage to his home city instead. Spending time in his childhood at St. Thomas’ Hospital as a seriously ill youngster he would often look out on the Thames, and also met his first girlfriend who became his wife along the Embankment at Waterloo.


5. The Theatre, Shoreditch, opened by James Burbage in 1576, was one of London’s earliest playhouses. It was taken down in 1598, but what happened to its timbers?

(a) Shakespeare had a share in this Bankside theatre and acted there. Many of is most famous plays, including Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear were first performed at The Globe, which was reconstructed from the original Theatre after a dispute with the landlord.


6. The U.S. Army’s signal centre was based in an unused deep tunnel beneath which tube station?

(c) Near the American church, Eisenhower’s command centre has long been used as a secure storage space. Its entrance can be seen on the north side of Store Street.


7. There are many mythological rivers and streams supposedly running under London, but which of the following holds no water today?

(c) According to Stow, the area, once a most that bounded the City wall, got its name ‘from that in old time, when the same lay open, much filth (conveyed forth of the City), especially dead dogged were there laid or cast’.


8. There are over 40 ‘ghost stations’ in the Underground network, but what makes Bull and Bush between Hampstead and Holders Green especially unusual?

(a) the establishment of Hampstead Garden Suburb in 1907 imposed restrictions on further building in the area, making the station unviable. It was abandoned before it was finished. Frank Pick did, however, live not far away, there is a blue plaque on his former home at 15 Wildwood Road.


9. CH N. Katz was one of the last Jewish businesses to continue trading on Brick Lane. What did Mr Katz sell?

(b) Katz followed a long line of immigrants into Spitalfields and was trading until the late 1990s, travelling from his home in Stamford Hill. Today the shop at 92 Brick Lane is Gallery SO, above the door is the inscription ‘CH N Katz, String and Paper Bags’. It is one of the few reminders of the time when Brick Lane was full of Jewish traders, rather than the Bangladeshi and hipsters of today.


10. What did the 19th-century trader Charles Jamrach sell from his long-vanished store on Radcliff Highway in the East End?

(c) Charles Jamrach ran a business importing tigers, rhinos and other exotic animals. At the north entrance of Tobacco Dock, Wapping, there is a statue of a small boy in front of a tiger. This records an incident in which a fully grown Bengal tiger escaped from Jamrach’s and began to make its way down Commercial Road. The large cat seized a small child in its mouth but was eventually persuaded by Charles Jamrach himself to release the boy unharmed.


And as a bonus: Why do cabbies sometimes call the junction of Kensington Gore and Exhibition Road ‘Hot and Cold Corner’?

(b) The two statues, one of Ernest Shackleton who explored the icy Antarctic faces Kensington Gore, while David Livingstone who opened up Africa can be seen facing Exhibition Road.

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.

Far from The Madding Crowd

London life is often pursued at a frenetic pace, so where can one go to avoid all this human activity?

Least populated

Havering is one of London’s largest boroughs, and being on the capital’s most north-east peripheral is one of the least populated. Much of it also has an Essex postcode, and due to the TV diet of vain wannabes, has ensured that the borough isn’t the first choice for many to set up home.

East London grime

For desolation look no further than Aveley Marshes an area alongside the Thames separated from the rest of Havering by acres if squelchy bog. Head for Coldharbour Point, an isolated promontory whose name is probably referenced to the bleakness of its location which curiously has a postcode – RM13 9BJ. But the nearest place to find a postman making a delivery is Erith on the opposite bank of the Thames.

While in this forgotten piece of London, walk Section 24 of the London Loop between Rainham and Purfleet. Depart from Rainham Station and follow the waymarked track parallel to Ferry Lane. After admiring the industrial units located in an area liberally coated with industrial grime and pass under the A13, leaving the Loop route and take off across the marshes to admire The Diver. Make sure the tide is out otherwise this fine piece of sculpture is submerged.

Concrete barges

Check out the nearby World War II concrete barges before taking in the polluted landfill hillocks, lorries covered in concrete dust and the odd gravel dredger rippling past on the grey water.


Should you need solace without talking exercise, I can recommend the Overground shuttle between Romford and Upminster. During the day the train is almost empty, but to be sure, choose the rear of the train because this is never adjacent to a platform entrance. As a bonus, you have the opportunity to enjoy the scenic view of the back of houses and fox-infested cuttings.

Topdeck solitude

Another way to discover East London enjoying your own company is upon the upper deck of the D8 bus. Due to the over-optimistic contract specifications, you should be able to travel between Stratford Station and the Isle of Dogs Asda rarely troubled by fellow passengers. While in Docklands let me direct you to the Emirates Air Line.

Experience magnificent desolation

Buzz Aldrin’s description of the moon could be a metaphor for the Emirate Air Line, that Boris vanity project offering overpriced cable car trips from one deserted East London location to another wasteland.

With only one regular commuter, with luck, you’ll miss the queues before alighting this solitary experience.

No excessive footfall

After all the solo travel a little shopping therapy might be felt necessary. But one place human contact is never a problem is the new outlet mall at the nearby former Millennium Dome, whose branded units are rarely bothered by excessive footfall. Ride the escalator to the upper floor where empty floors gleam and numerous shop assistants can be seen readjusting the merchandise on the off chance that a potential purchaser might wander by. Hundreds of handbags, designer jackets and deluxe saucepans lie untouched on the shelves because the backside of the Greenwich peninsula is not yet on the capital’s retail radar.

Featured image: RSPB Rainham Marshes.
River Thames: Abandoned ferro-concrete barges. There are 16 of these ferro-concrete barges beached and abandoned on the muddy foreshore next to Rainham Marshes on the Erith Reach of the River Thames. The general consensus of opinion is that they were built to assist in the Normandy D-Day landings of June 1944, and were constructed of concrete reinforced with steel because of the wartime shortage of steel plate. By Nigel Cox (CC BY-SA 2.0)
The Emirates Cable Car. One of the gondolas of the Emirates Cable Car, looking towards Stratford by Christine Matthews (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Boris bridges

The Boris Garden Bridge is consigned to oblivion. This vanity project, known by luvvies as the garden bridge has already used £37.4 million of public money and by cancelling will cost a further £9 million. The bridge, which only served to obscure London’s best view and wasn’t even open to the public all year, should never have been considered. I know it’s heresy to say these days when we all should be cycling to work, but the £46 million could have been spent on a traffic bridge at Beckton thus reducing congestion at the Blackwall crossing. he new ECO cab has been unveiled with a £60,000 price tag. Assuming you write down the cost over 10 years (private hire come off the road at 10 years); spend £2,000 on insurance; £1,000 on maintenance; it cost you £10 per day on fuel and electricity to charge its batteries; and another £1,000 on one’s licence, plating the vehicle, medicals and sundry extras you arrive at £12,4000 per year. This is probably an underestimate, then, let’s be generous, you can earn £20 per hour for every hour that you are working, and that you work 5-day-a-week for 48 weeks a year you get a back of an envelope sum thus:£12,400÷48 weeks=£310 weekly overheads which equal 15.5 hours or 2 days’ work before you have earned a bean.

Still, we can look forward to the Boris Bridge MkII, over the Irish Sea or as it will become The Bridge Over Troubled Water

Taxi talk without tipping

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