Tag Archives: London trivia

London Trivia: First Poll Tax riot

On 18 April 1988 in a heated debate on the Poll Tax Scottish Labour member Ron Brown, grabbed the mace and angrily threw it to the floor. Parliament cannot lawfully meet without the Mace, representing the monarch’s authority, being present in the chambers. Afterward he agreed to read out a pre-written apology to the House, attempting to add his own comments. Suspended from Parliament for 20 days, he was ordered to pay £1,500.

On 18 April 1930 during its 8.45 bulletin, a BBC announcer said: “There is no news.” The rest of the programme featured piano music

According to tradition, the Bowyer Tower was where the Duke of Clarence, troublesome brother of Edward IV and Richard III, was drowned in a butt of malmsey wine

On 18 April 1968 London Bridge was sold to entrepreneur Robert P. McCulloch of McCulloch Oil for £1,029,000 at Guildhall

Domestic servants with visible smallpox scars were preferred to those unmarked, proof that they would not bring smallpox into the household

Smoking was banned in the House of Commons as early as 1693. It was still smokey though from candles and fires that lit and warmed the place

Since 1768 the Royal Academy has been housed in: Pall Mall; Somerset House; and the National Gallery. Its present site dates from 1868

The Bedford on Bedford Hill, Balham hosts the regular Banana Cabaret it has hosted acts such as Jack Dee, Catherine Tate and Eddie Izzard

Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard and Henry Cooper have all sparred at the Thomas à Beckett boxing gym on Old Kent Road

Swiss visitor César de Saussure in 1725 recorded being knocked over four times by sedan chairs during his visit to London

Samuel Morse the American painter and inventor of the Morse Code lived at 141 Cleveland Street between 1812-15

There have been ghostly reports of drivers picking up a young hitchhiker at the mouth of Blackwall Tunnel only disappear by the other end

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: Yes we have some bananas

On 11 April 1633 Thomas Johnson is known as ‘the father of British field botany’ after his 2,0000-page tome listing plants, put on sale at his apothecary business a strange fruit, a banana. The first consignment came from Bermuda and Johnson described it thus: . . . ‘Each of the fruits was not ripe, being green, each of them the bignesse of a large beane, some five inches long . . . the stalk is short and like one’s little finger.’

On 11 April 1855 the first six pillar postboxes appeared in London and they were green, not red and were rectangular in shape

Mansion House, home to the City’s chief magistrate, contains a number of prison cells, one notable person interned was Emmeline Pankhurst

Two columns from the original 19th century Waterloo Bridge can be seen below its modern replacement on Victoria Embankment

On 11 April 1890 Joseph Carey (John) Merrick (aka The Elephant Man) died at the London Hospital. Modern diagnosis is Proteus Syndrome

In the 1930s Liverpool Street Station was where the Kindertransport arrived a rescue effort that saved many Jewish children from the Nazis

On Poultry is a statue of a boy huggy ‘Old Tom’, a goose who escaped slaughter at nearby Leadenhall Market and was adopted by the traders, living until 37 years old

The Elephant Man was put on show and lived at 123 Whitechapel Road (now renumbered 259) the premises are now UKAY International Saree Centre

In 1314 Nicholas de Farndone London’s mayor acting for Edward II banned football “which many evils perchance may arise which may God forbid”

Underground stations named after taverns: Swiss Cottage; Angel; Elephant and Castle; Manor House; Royal Oak

On 11 April 1882 Thomas Edison opened the world’s first public power station at 57 Holborn Viaduct its steam-driven generators called Jumbos

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; It is the illusion of knowledge.”,Stephen Hawking 1943-2018 theoretical physicist

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: Pirate gets a gong

On 4 April 1581 French diplomat M. de Marchaumont dubbed Sir Francis Drake on board his ship, the Golden Hind. Although Elizabeth I was present the honour was bestowed on the Frenchman who was trying to get the Queen to marry the King of France’s brother, the Duke of Anjou. In fact the diplomat only achieved giving the knighthood to a privateer, slaver and politician, Queen Bess remained a spinster.

On 4 April 1981, after 152 years, Oxford University’s first woman cox, 23-year-old Susan Brown, won the annual Boat Race

Ruth Ellis and Styllou Christofi, the last two women hanged for murder, incredibly both independent crimes were committed in South Hill Park

Caledonian Road is named after the former Royal Caledonian School, established for Scottish children orphaned by the Napoleonic Wars

The Necropolis Railway Company transported coffins from Waterloo to Brockwood Cemetery customers chose between first, second and third class

Pear Tree House, Hawke Road is built on top of a nuclear bunker with a thick reinforced blast door, designed as a local control centre

The interior of 50 Smith Street, Chelsea was used as the model for the Banks family in Mary Poppins, it was also its author P. L. Travers home

The Temperance public house on Fulham High Street was originally a billiard hall for the Temperance Movement discouraging alcohol

In 1981 Queens Park Rangers became the first ground in the English Football League to install an artificial pitch, it lasted a decade

Opened in 1908 the Rotherhithe Tunnel is the only tunnel beneath the Thames to have a shared space with cars and pedestrian

Car showroom Classic Chrome’s MD Garry Shortt has as his office the 1860s personal waiting room of Queen Victoria at Mortlake Station

When Walt Disney and his wife visited London in 1965 a cabbie told him of Disney Place/Disney Street (no connection) and took his photo here

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: Iron Lady wields bar

On 28 March 1979 as Leader of the Opposition, Margaret Thatcher brought a vote of no confidence in James Callaghan and his Labour government. It proved to be an important step towards her becoming Britain’s first female Prime Minister. The Labour Government lost by one vote (311 votes to 310), which was announced at 10:19 pm. The result forced a general election which was won by the Conservatives.

On 28 March 1858 the original Chelsea toll and suspension bridge designed by Thomas Page was opened

Don’t walk down a London street carrying a plank of wood or even cross the pavement to a waiting car its an offence carrying a £500 fine

The Savoy Hotel has a remnant of Victoriana. A gaslight designed to burn off methane from the sewage system, provide light and remove smells

The statue of William Huskisson in Pimlico Gardens depicts the first person ever to be killed by a train he stands rather informally on his plinth, one sandalled foot over the edge

In 1796 a Commons Committee spent days debating a plan to dig a channel across the Isle of Dogs to save sailing time around the peninsular

The South Bank Lion on Westminster Bridge is made of Coade Stone which resists weather erosion, the formula was lost with its inventor’s death

Londoners are known for their reluctance to talk to strangers but love social networking and send more Tweets than any other world city

On 28 March 1925, the Oxford boat sank during the University Boat Race, it would be repeated again in 1956

The custom on escalators of standing on the right started with a diagonal end to early ones and a sign saying ‘Step off: right foot first’

The pillars in the basement of St. Pancras Station are spaced exactly 3 beer barrels apart designed as Bass beer arrives from Midlands

Queen Victoria’s Memorial outside Buckingham Palace is called The Wedding Cake by cabbies as it still retains its whiteness after 100 years

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 careful duel

On 21 March 1829 started the tradition of Duel Day when Wellington duelled with the Earl of Winchilsea at Battersea Fields over Wellington’s support of Catholics. The two drew their arms on the asparagus fields that would later become Battersea Park. Both took care not to hurt their opponent Winchilsea, deliberately firing a wide shot, perhaps with the sudden realisation that shooting the prime minister wouldn’t be a good move.

On 21 March 1853 Alfred Cops, zookeeper at the Tower of London, died at the Tower of London 18 years after his menagerie closed

Hanway Street (links Oxford St and Tottenham Court Road) – named after Jonas Hanway (1712-86), the first man in London to be arrested for carrying an umbrella

Spencer Street and Percival Street in Clerkenwell are named after Spencer Percival, the only British Prime Minister ever to be assassinated

In 1803, Chalk Farm: Lt-Col Montgomery and Capt Macnamara duelled because the dog of one snarled at the dog of the other Montgomery died Macnamara was severely injured

Now luxury flats, Tower House in Whitechapel, once a lodging house for homeless men, played host to Stalin and George Orwell

Announcements in Royal Court Theatre’s lifts are the voices of actors: Richard Wilson, Lindsay Duncan, Ray Winstone and Harriet Walter

The original plan for the Barbican’s cinema was to have the screen on the ceiling and the audience lying on their backs on the floor

Wisden were one of the original tenants above Leicester Square station – their bat, ball and wicket emblem are still there in the terracotta tiling

On 21 March 1922 Waterloo Station was formally opened by Queen Mary. The rebuilding had started in 1909, but World War I interrupted construction

St Bride’s Church steeple in Fleet Street was the inspiration for the bridal cake design by local baker Mr Rich, his design made him rich

London cabbies’ slang for Harley Street is ‘The Resistance’ because doctors opposed the creation of the NHS. Parliament is nicknamed ‘The Gasworks’

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.