Tag Archives: London trivia

London Trivia: The wrong box

On 22 October 1910 Dr. Hawley Crippen was convicted at the Old Bailey of his wife’s murder. The police had found the gruesome remains of a body beneath the coal cellar of his house, wrapped in a male pyjama jacket and identified as his wife Cora, it had no head, no limbs, no bones and no genitals, but there were traces of a poison that Crippen was discovered to recently purchased. Recent analysis of the remains indicate that the corpse found in his house were not female.

On 22 October 1974 a bomb exploded in Brooks Club injuring three members of staff, one of the first on the scene was Conservative Party leader Edward Heath who was dining nearby

At Newgate 1789 Catherine Murphy was the last woman to executed by burning however all was not so as she had been hanged first for coining

The 5-star Lanesborough Hotel was built by James Lane, 2nd Viscount Lanesborough in 1719 before becoming St George’s Hospital in 1733

When Augusta of Saxe-Coburg married Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1736 she was sick down her dress, an ill omen he died before being crowned

Longest Budget speech ever: Gladstone, 1853 – 4hrs 45mins. Drank sherry and beaten egg, the budget only time any MP is allowed alcohol in the chamber)

Ray Davis originally wrote about Liverpool sunset in a nod to The Beatles but was persuaded to eulogise about the city that he loved

In the 80s Cynthia Payne was convicted of running a brothel at 32 Ambleside Avenue, Streatham, luncheon vouchers paid for personal services

The Wimbledon Championships held annually since 1877 at the All-England Club is the oldest tennis tournament in the world

Over 47 million litres water are pumped from the Tube each day, enough to fill a standard leisure centre swimming pool every quarter of an hour

A Billingsgate porter’s hat aka ‘bobbin’ is made of wood and leather to support heavy boxes of fish. The upturned brim captures the fish juice

The TARDIS, (Dr Who’s transport) can be found outside Earl’s Court station. Or at least an old police call box can

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: Rule Britannia

On 15 October 1702 the first model for Britannia died from smallpox. Lady Frances Teresa Stewart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox had been mistress to King Charles II and sat for the first portrait of Britannia. The Duchess was Diana, Princess of Wales’s great-great-great-great-grandmother. Britania was featured on all modern British coinage series until the redesign in 2008, in 2015 a new definitive £2 coin was issued, with a new image of Britannia.

On 15 October 1066 rumours circulated in London that King Harold had only been wounded that would have been one in the eye for the Normans

Number 17 Wimpole Mews was the home of society Osteopath Stephen Ward who became embroiled in the 1963 Profumo scandal

Lower Robert Street is the only remnant of underground streets below the Adelphi buildings built by the Adam brothers in 1773

Bethnal Green residents once knew Bethnal Green Gardens as ‘Barmy Park’ after a lunatic asylum formerly situated there

Edward VI punished Westminster Abbey (St Peter’s) by diverting their funding to St Paul’s hence the phrase ‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul’

In the central courtyard of the Victoria and Albert museum is a memorial to Jim, faithful dog of Henry Cole, the museum’s first director

The Palace Theatre at corner Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue was the venue of the first Royal Command Performance in 1919

Only since the 1700s has Chelsea been known as that, before it was Chelsey, Chelceth; Chelchith. Doomsday Book lists Cercehede; Chelched

The phrase “Mind the gap” dates back to 1968. The recording that is broadcast on stations was first done by Peter Lodge, who had a recording company in Bayswater

Howard House, 14 Fournier Street, Spitalfields is where the silk for Queen Victoria’s coronation gown was woven

The City of London the historical core of the Capital, roughly matches the boundaries the Roman city of Londinium and of medieval 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: Midnight express

On 8 October 1952 at 8.18 am the Perth to Euston sleeper express overshot signals at Harrow and ploughed into a stationary local train waiting at the station. A northbound train then ran into the wreckage, 112 died and 150 were injured, it remains the worst peacetime rail crash in the United Kingdom. The accident accelerated the introduction of Automatic Warning System informing drivers they had passed an adverse signal.

On 8 October 1965 Britain got its tallest building when the Post Office Tower (renamed BT) topped out at 580ft plus 70ft for the radio mast

Shad Thames was known as Jacob’s Island a notoriously dangerous place, featured in Oliver Twist where Bill Sikes meets his end hanging by a rope above Folly Ditch’s mud

The 1.8km long Limehouse Link tunnel cost £293 million to build in 1993, around £163,000 per metre, making it Britain’s most expensive road scheme

Cock Lane opposite Bart’s is where John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, died of a fever in 1688

Catholic monarch Mary Tudor watched Protestant martyrs burn at the stake at Smithfield from the gatehouse of St Bartholomew-the-Great

In An American Werewolf in London (1981) its lycanthropic protagonist, David meets his timely end in Winchester Walk, Borough

The Savoy Hotel’s Chef Escoffier created the dish Peach Melba for opera singer Dame Nellie Melba who was a regular guest

Oldest surviving regular contest in the World Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race rowing up the Thames between two Swan pubs: London Bridge to Chelsea

The London taxi must have a turning circle no more than 25 foot to enable it to U-turn from a cab rank and to complete a single turn outside the Savoy Hotel

The toothbrush was invented in Newgate prison by William Addis in 1770. Inspired by a broom, he inserted bristles into an animal bone

Petticoat Lane is not on any London map as it was renamed Middlesex Street in 1830, though known to Londoners it doesn’t officially exist

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: Saved by a poet

On 1 October 1868 one of London’s greatest buildings was opened to little fanfare. George Gilbert Scott’s Gothic masterpiece St. Pancras. Years later it took pressure from a group led by poet laureate John Betjeman to save it from demolition. Betjeman, a founding member of the Victorian Society and a passionate defender of Victorian architecture, on the reopening of St Pancras station in 2007, a statue of Betjeman was unveiled.

On 1 October 1985 police in riot gear closed off parts of Peckham in an effort to contain continued outbreaks of violence and vandalism as gangs of youths threw petrol bombs and set shops alight

Robert Peel’s new Metropolitan Police Force nicknamed ‘Blue Devils’ wore blue to avoid confusion with the red coats of the army

St Bartholomew’s Hospital is the oldest hospital in London having been founded in 1123 by a monk named Rahere

Covent Garden is believed to be haunted by the ghost of William Terris who met an untimely death near the station in 1897

In 1966 Russian spy George Blake escaped Wormwood Scrubs and a 42 year stretch by making use of a ladder made of knitting needles

During World War II a branch of the Piccadilly line Holborn/Aldwych was closed and British Museum treasures were stored in the empty spaces

18th century Shepherd Market Mayfair was home to courtesan Kitty Fisher who, insulted by a low value note given for services given, ate it!

West Ham’s I’m forever blowing bubbles was inspired by trialist schoolboy Billy Murray who resembled the boy used to advertise Pears soap

When Paddington Underground Station, as the western terminus of London’s first underground, opened in January 1863 it was called Bishop’s Road

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

In 1792 Lady Braddock and Mrs Elphinstone duelled Braddock’s hat got shot off and Elphinstone wounded in the arm by a sword – later they had tea

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: First Blitz

A plaque marks the spot where on 24 September 1917 the old Bedford Hotel stood on Southampton Row in Bloomsbury, recording that on the day a 112lb bomb was dropped from a German Gotha in one of London’s first night air raids, killing 13 people and injuring a further 22. The airships were vulnerable to the vagaries of the wind and British fighter aircraft, to counter these the Germans developed powerful twin-engined Gotha bombers.

On 24 September 1842 a bronze statute of the Duke of Wellington astride his horse, Copenhagen was conveyed to Hyde Park Corner

The Boundary Street Estate London’s first council estate was built on the rubble of the Old Nichol, once a notorious criminal area

In 2003 Temple Bar Trust bought the gate for £1 it was returned to London stone by stone and re-erected as an entrance to Paternoster Square

William Blake (who wrote the lyrics to Jerusalem) married Catherine Boucher at St Mary’s, Battersea in 1782

Nancy Astor, the first woman take a seat in Parliament after a by-election in December 1919 and was elected as a Conservative for the Plymouth, once lived at 4 St James’s Square, Westminster

In 1891 Sherlock Holmes creator, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, penned his first 5 short stories at 2 Upper Wimpole Street then known as Devonshire Place

A red, white or black flag was flown outside the Globe in Shakespeare’s time to denote a history, comedy or tragedy

London’s oldest sports building still in use for its original purpose is the Real Tennis Court at Hampton Court Palace, one of its walls dates back to 1625. Today the court is listed Grade I

The Central line introduced the first flat fare when it opened the tuppence fare lasted until the end of June 1907 when a threepenny fare was introduced for longer journeys

Elephant and Castle is named from a pub whose sign was the symbol of the Cutlers who made cutlery with ivory handles

It costs £4 million a year to advertise your firm on Piccadilly Circus’s neon sign which measures 21.1 metres by 4.8 metres

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.