When Horatio Nelson was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 he was brought back to London to be given a massive send off. Normally, if sailors died at sea they were thrown over board. You didn’t carry dead people around on ships. For Nelson they made an exception and stuck him in a barrel of brandy, pickling him for the journey. Legend has it, that the crew that returned on his ship, the HMS Victory drank the brandy from the barrel whilst Nelson was in it.
The Burlington Arcade is the longest covered shopping Street in the UK. It runs alongside Burlington House, originally built as a 17th country manor. When 19th early century resident Lord George Cavendish got annoyed with his neighbours throwing stuff over the wall in to his garden, he arranged for the whole street to be covered, opening it in 1819 as a super duper luxury shopping precinct, which it remains to this day.
55% of the London underground is over ground.
In 1875 these green huts started popping up. They’re called Cabmen’s Shelters and provided the drivers of horse drawn Hackney Carriages somewhere to shelter from the wind, rain and cold. A stove inside meant they could keep warm and cook food and the bar around the edge was for tying horses two. Two decades later there were sixty-one in London, but today only thirteen survive and have been given listed building status. Some provide snacks to the public, whilst the others, cab drivers still sit in them.
Strand runs from Trafalgar Square to Fleet Street. A lot of Londoners call it ‘The Strand’, but there is no prefix. The word ‘strand’ in most northern European languages means beach, and Strand runs parallel to the Thames, which until the 1860s came much closer. It literally means the beach or bank of the Thames.
Construction on Tower Bridge began in 1887 and was completed in 1894. The now incredibly iconic design was chosen by way of competition, with the lucky winner being an architect called Horace Jones who also designed a number of London’s Victorian markets. It seems not much luck was involved as Jones was also one of the competition judges. He chose his own design.
New Zealand House was completed in 1963. It was the first tower block to be built in central London after WW2 and was in fact built on the site of the Carlton Hotel which was bombed during the war. This modernist high rise was a highly contentious building at the time and towering over its neighbours should have given those that worked in New Zealand House amazing views across London from their desks, but unfortunately not. For nearly 50 years they’ve had to close the blinds every day. I believe the building was loosing too much heat through the myriad of glass, known as ‘thermal flow’, and ordering the blinds to be closed, although drastic, solved this problem. Just one of the many building projects in London gone wrong.
I'm not sure what the official number is that constitutes a 'group', but if it's one, then this weekend I had three groups for my guided tours around London.
Saturday morning kicked off with Chris and Sasha who are over from Australia and joined me for the walk from Trafalgar Square to St Paul's. Covent Garden and Soho are often just referred to as 'Theatre Land' due to the density of theatres in the area. Just behind them on this photo is the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, which I think is officially the oldest (still used) theatre site in London. I say 'site' because although it opened in 1663, they're now on their fourth building. The most recent incarnation opened in 1812.
We also managed to get a peak of Temple Church along the way, the 12th century church, built by the Templar Knights that nestles between Fleet Street and the Thames.
In the afternoon, Veronica, Sam and Chris came along for the afternoon walk that starts at St Paul's cathedral. They were also joined by stalwart Keith from Canada, a veritable Bowl Of Chalk veteran, returning for his third walk with me. Here they are down in Borough, close to Cross Bones Graveyard, the unconsecrated ground where the Bishop of Winchester's Geese, otherwise known as prostitutes, were unceremoniously dumped, until it was covered over in 1853. Although 'The Friends of Cross Bones Graveyard' are campaigning to turn the land in to a memorial garden, the land is owned by TFL. Here they are standing in front of a rather large London Underground sign.
London Underground is celebrating its 150th birthday this year. The first line to open was the Metropolitan Railway and the inaugural journey on the 9th January 1863 took passengers between Paddington and Farringdon, just over 4 miles. Today, 3 million passengers are ferried around 253 miles of track in London every day.
Sunday was the mighty group of ... one; Erin from Australia, who although an individual in her own right (quite literally on that particular walk) also happens to be the sister of Robb, instigator of the coveted 'Best Moustache' award. Here she is on Hackney Road, standing in front of a piece by Paul Don Smith, who when not stenciling guys in bowler hats with a tap on their head, paints pretty natty portraits all over east London.
Youngest - Sam
Most Canadian (2nd week in a row) - Keith
Best Moustache - No winners
Most Australian - Erin, Sasha & Chris
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.