If you pick up a copy of this weeks Time Out London magazine, you'll discover that I contributed a small column entitled Hidden Landmarks.
London is a multi-layered city and there are loads of little details hiding in plain sight which both Londoners and tourists alike pass every day and don't notice. They're the kind of things I talk about regularly on my walks and are often a great way of helping to explain a much larger topic. Time Out asked me to include some of my favourites, all of which I've mentioned on this website previously.
Metropolitan Police hook
On a building on Great Newport Street (just by Leicester Square Underground Station) close to a busy intersection is a large hook, above which is written ‘Metropolitan Police’. Before traffic lights, a Policeman would stand directing traffic. The story goes that one Policeman had taken to hanging his coat on a nail protruding from the wall during building work. When the work ended and the nail was gone, the impromptu coat hook was sorely missed, so an official one installed.
When Christopher Wren rebuilt the City of London following the Great Fire of London (1666) he used 6 million tonnes of Portland Stone which is quarried in Dorset. This area is known as the Jurassic Coast due to the sheer number of fossils found there from the Jurassic period. Although Wren chose not to feature the fossils, the stone is still being used today and the 150 million-year old fossils are used as decorative features, meaning you can fossil hunt all over London.
During the Blitzkrieg attacks of WWII, mass civilian casualties were anticipated and therefore numerous A.R.Ps (Air Raid Precautions) were put in to place. One such action was to make loads of sturdy metal stretchers which could also easily be quickly washed down (gas attacks were a real danger too) if contaminated or bloodied. It would seem that a great many of these were taking up valuable space after the war, combined (I’m guessing) with the fact that many fences and railings had been melted down for the war effort. The stretchers became fences themselves. A few examples survive around ex local authority buildings, particularly in east or south-east London.
It's been a while since I've posted anything about the actual walking tours I do in London, so as January draws to a close, thought I'd rectify that and include some photos of walks I've done this month.
If anyone reading this is interested in joining a walk, then this is pretty much how it works.
Most weekends (please check the dates on the homepage for availability) I do x3 'pay what you want' walks. Each is about 2.5 / 3 hours long and are as follows.
Saturday AM - Trafalgar Square to St Paul's cathedral (via Covent Garden and Fleet Street) which looks a bit like this:
Saturday PM - St Paul's to Monument (via Bankside & Borough) and looks a bit like this:
Sunday AM - East London (around Old Street, Shoreditch and Spitalfields including LOADS of street art) which looks a bit like this:
Incidentally, these tours don't have a theme, I literally warble on about things I find interesting. If you'd like to join one, please send me a message via the Contact Form letting me know which walk you'd like to join and how many places. I'll reply with the details of where we'll meet etc.
Then, during the week I do 'private tours' (for which I have set fees) and are tailor made where possible to the people on that walk and could be anything from just a couple of hours to six hours. A lot of these walks are for first time visitors interested in getting a bit of a London overview, whilst seeing a lot of sights, or as was the case this month, two groups of students from Buffalo and Singapore, some other students from the States in London on a study semester abroad, and a couple who have lived in London for 20 years and thought they'd explore an area they weren't too familiar with ...amongst others
So, if you're visiting London and would like to do what Time Out says is one of 'The best London Walking Tours' which I'm obviously milking for all it's worth, whether it be a weekend 'pay what you want' walk, or would like to discuss a private tour ...please do get in touch.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.