The capital of England is made up of two ancient cities that are now joined together. 8,400,000 people live here. London's history going back over 2,000 years. During that time it has grown to one of the world's most significant financial and cultural capital cities. It has withstood plague, devastating fire, civil war, aerial bombardment, terrorist attacks, and rioting.
The City of London was the original Roman settlement and now serves as the centre of business and the financial heart of the UK. The Bank of England is here along with the London Stock Exchange. Londinium - as it was known - makes up the oldest part of the capital and was already 1000 years old when the famous Tower of London was built.
Over 70 years ago, in the midst of World War II, London was one of the few “safe” cities left in Europe for those who opposed the Nazi regime. It soon became a safe haven for displaced governments of the countries that Hitler had invaded, first with Poland’s government-in-exile taking up residence, followed by those of Norway, Belgium, Holland and France.
London has been the home to a number of different famous people, such as Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Sylvia Plath, Charles Dickens, Jimi Hendrix, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Florence Nightingale and 100’s of others. These people are commemorated with blue plaques which hang on the places they lived. So the next time you are wondering the streets of London, look about for these certified insights.
The oldest underground railway network in the world
The London Underground is the oldest underground railway network in the world. The London Underground, was built in 1863, and was the first metro of the world. The London Underground is known as 'the Tube' and carries over a billion passengers a year. 55% of the London Underground, is not underground. There's only one Tube station that doesn't have any of the letters from the word mackerel in it: St John's Wood.
When the idea of the London Underground first came about, it was suggested to use horses and carriages, or fill the tunnels with water and use barges to float people from station to station. The London Underground was originally intended to terminate in Pari
Throughout the tubes rich history of transporting Londonders, various items have been found. Among the many things Londoners have left on the Tube are a samurai sword, a stuffed puffer fish, a human skull, a coffin, an urn full of ashes, 3 dead bats in a jar, and an entire park bench. Did you know that each year London buses travel an estimated 12,128 times the circumference of the Earth? That’s 302 million miles. It might take a trained astronaut to navigate London’s out-of-this-world bus routes. London Underground transports three million people a day but only three babies are known to have ever been born on the tube. The most famous person to have come into the world in a London underground station is the US talk show host Jerry Springer. He was born at Highgate station on 13 February 1944 while his mother took shelter from a Luftwaffe bombing raid.
London is a Forest?
London is not the concrrete jungle it seems to be. Because of the volume of trees in London, according to the UN definition, it can be classified as a forest. London isnt the concrete jumgle you would expect from a major city, 40% of Greater London is made up of green space.
It is Illegal to Die in the Palace of Westminster
... I am being dead serious here! and much like the law that made suicide illegal before 1961. The reason behind this law is that the Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, are a Royal Palace, and anyone who dies there is entitled to a state funeral. This law was recently voted the most absurd in Britain, narrowly beating a Liverpool legislation that bans women from going topless in public, unless they work in a tropical fish store!
Great Ormond Street Hospital believes in fairys
The copyright of Peter Pan was gifted by the author. J.M. Barrie to Great Ormond Street Hospital. He had no children of his own so made sure that the hospital received royalties from all associated works and performances of his masterpiece. This is escpecially significant as GOSH is a children's hospital and Peter Pan is a story about child death.
Londonium, Ludenwic, and Ludenburg
Our wonderful city London has not always had this name. In the past it has been called Londonium, Ludenwic, and Ludenburg! The City of London was the original Roman settlement, Londinium, which makes it the oldest part of the capital and was already 1000 years old when the famous Tower of London was built.
Unfortunately this cashpoint does not dispence gold nor is it made of real gold. The world’s first hole-in-the-wall cash machine was installed in the Enfield branch of Barclays in 1967. inventor John Shepherd- Barron (yet another Scot) said his genius money-dispensing contraption was inspired by chocolate vending machines. The now-ubiquitous devices were the brainchild of John Shepperd Barron, who died in 2010. The first person to use the Enfield cashpoint was none other than Reg Varney from the sitcom On The Buses. Ironically, London’s buses no longer accept cash.Despite its near ubiquity in boroughs all over our city, this invention is yet to make it to the Shoreditch/Hoxton area, as anyone who has spent valuable drinking time trudging around looking for one there on a Saturday night will attest to.
Black Cabbies know it all
Perhaps the most difficult job in the world is being a black cab driver in London. All black cab drivers in London must pass the extremely difficult geography test known ominously as ‘the Knowledge’. It requires you to learn 320 basic routes, all 25,000 streets within these routes and 20,000 landmarks within a 6 mile radius of Charing Cross. It is thought to take between 2 and 4 years to learn all of this information but I’m struggling to retain just those stats let alone 25,000 street names.
Winnie's New Home
London Zoo was the home to one of the most famous animals in the world: Winnie-the-Pooh. Winnie was given to the zoo by a Canadian regiment who were called up to fight in France during the First World War. Winnie lived at ZSL London Zoo from 1914 until 1934 during which author AA Milne brought his son, Christopher Robin Milne, to see Winnie. She quickly became Christopher Robin’s favourite animal at the zoo. Wait, she? It turns out the real Winnie was a female black bear rather than male and that very natural bear colour: yellow. She also probably didn’t eat honey or hang out with a piglet.
Another interesting fact about ZSL London Zoo - When World War II broke out, London Zoo killed all of their venomous animals in case of the event that the zoo was bombed and the animals managed to escape. During the 18th century in London, you could obtain admission to the zoo in London by bringing a cat or dog to feed to the lions.
The world's first traffic light was erected outside the House of Commons in 1868. It blew up the following year, injuring the policeman who was operating it. The first traffic light system in the world was installed on Parliament Square in 1868. A year later it blew up, killing the policeman that it had been designed to replace…
Shakespeare's Lost Works
The tomb of Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser in Westminster Abbey is said to contain unpublished works by his contemporaries - including Shakespeare - who threw manuscripts into his grave to honour his genius.
Pop Goes the Weasel
The nursery rhyme Pop Goes the Weasel is not as innocent as you would expect. It refers to the act of pawning one's suit after spending all one's cash in the pubs of Clerkenwell.
The Queen needs permission to enter the City of London
She may be the head of state for the United Kingdom as well as countries such as Canada and Australia, but Queen Elizabeth II is not allowed to enter the City of London without permission from the Lord Mayor. The royal website states: “The citizens of London, through the Corporation of the City, still retain their ancient privilege of being able to bar the Sovereign from entering their streets.” Although if she ever did decide she fancied a jaunt to Liverpool Street, we’re sure the Queen would be more than welcome.
The City of London is actually one of the smallest cities in the U.K with a population of just over 7,000 residents. The administrative district of Greater London, while technically not a city, homes around 8.3 million residents and is large enough to fit over 4 New Yorks and almost 50 Paris.
Marble Arch was originally built as the entrance to Buckingham Palace, but was never used. Inside is a tiny office, that use to be used as a police station.
London Unearthed Mysteries
In 1829, with London running out of space to bury its dead, an architect called Thomas Wilson proposed building a 94 story pyramid on Primrose Hill to house five million corpses. The Great Plague, lasting from 1665 to 1666, was the last major epidemic of the bubonic plague to occur in England. It happened within the centuries-long time period of the Second Pandemic, an extended period of intermittent bubonic plague epidemics which began in Europe in 1347, the first year of the Black Death, an outbreak which included other forms such as pneumonic plague, and lasted until 1750. The Great Plague killed an estimated 100,000 people—almost a quarter of London's population—in 18 months. The plague was caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium, which is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected rat flea. The 1665–66 epidemic was on a far smaller scale than the earlier Black Death pandemic; it was remembered afterwards as the "great" plague mainly because it was the last widespread outbreak of bubonic plague in England during the 400-year timespan of the Second Pandemic. The Crossrail development has unearthed thousands of skeletons, among those are a notorious criminal murdered by the mob; political activists and plague victims.
The Thames has Competition
There are about 20 hidden rivers underneath London. Lost River, the Tyburn, runs directly underneath Buckingham Palace.
The Thames Residents
The Thames is home to slimy eels that used to be a traditional meal of Londoners! Pie, potato mash and eel shops have been around, in London, since the 19th century. Would you like to try an eel pie?Oysters can also be found in the River Thames. These extra slimy, shell-dwelling creatures are served in some of London’s best restaurants. Did you know wild salmon live in the Thames too? The Thames is said to be one of the cleanest city rivers in the world. There are 119 species of fish living in the Thames and it’s a gruesome average that so is one dead body per week!
London's Mystical Origins
According to the legendary Historia Regum Britanniae, by Geoffrey of Monmouth, London was founded by Brutus of Troy about 1000–1100 B.C. after he defeated the native giant Gogmagog; the settlement was known as Caer Troia, Troia Nova (Latin for New Troy), which, according to a pseudo-etymology, was corrupted to Trinovantum. Trinovantes were the Iron Age tribe who inhabited the area prior to the Romans. Geoffrey provides prehistoric London with a rich array of legendary kings, such as Lud (see also Lludd, from Welsh mythology) who, he claims, renamed the town Caer Ludein, from which London was derived, and was buried at Ludgate.Some recent discoveries indicate probable very early settlements near the Thames in the London area. In 1999, the remains of a Bronze Age bridge were found, again on the foreshore south of Vauxhall Bridge. This bridge either crossed the Thames, or went to a now lost island in the river. Dendrology dated the timbers to 1500BCE. In 2001 a further dig found that the timbers were driven vertically into the ground on the south bank of the Thames west of Vauxhall Bridge. In 2010 the foundations of a large timber structure, dated to 4000BCE, were found on the Thames foreshore, south of Vauxhall Bridge. The function of the mesolithic structure is not known. All these structures are on the south bank at a natural crossing point where the River Effra flows into the Thames. Numerous finds have been made of spear heads and weaponry from the Bronze and Iron Ages near the banks of the Thames in the London area, many of which had clearly been used in battle. This suggests that the Thames was an important tribal boundary.
It’s an irrefutable fact that the Scots are responsible for a disproportionate number of great civilising inventions – penicillin, the telephone, anaesthesia and whisky. They’re also responsible for some less civilising ones: haggis, golf and the television, first demonstrated by expat John Logi Baird to a group of goggling square-eyed onlookers in Frith Street in 1926. We’re still claiming it as one of ours, though.
Heathrow airport started as a private airport in 1930 for British aero-engineer and aircraft builder Richard Fairey. He paid the Vicar of Harmondsworth £15,000 for a 150-acre plot to build a private airport to assemble and test aircraft. It has changed vastly since its huimble beginnings of a single grass runway and a handful of hastily erected buildings, as now Fairey’s Great West Aerodrome was the humble precursor to the world’s busiest international airport.
I live quite close to Heathrow so it is a common feature in my daily life. I don't understand what it is about plane or large engineered structures, but I get excited every-time I see an aircraft.