We have been living in London for more than 20 years (combined). We are not the type to sit at home and watch TV (although we do spend about 30 minutes daily watching our favourite shows: Two and Half Men, Anger Management, Friends etc…). So, although we are curious and know our fair bit about London, this city still manages to catch us out.
Despite everything we’ve learnt about London over the years, there are countless others we discover on an (almost) daily basis.
Today, we would like to share with you a few interesting facts that you might not know about London’s famous buildings and places (even if you’ve been living here for a long time)…
The Centre of London
Ever wondered where the centre of London is? Well it’s located on a little island between where Charing Cross road and the Strand meet and very close to Trafalgar Square. An interesting fact about the Centre of London is that all the distances from the capital are still measured from that special spot.
Who invented the milk chocolate?
Answer: Hans Sloane. He is the founder of the British Museum and the London tube station Sloane Square is named after him.
But we shouldn’t give him full credit for inventing the milk chocolate since apparently he was inspired by the Jamaican people during a trip to Jamaica.
First museum restaurant
Where can you find the first museum restaurant?
Answer: at the V&A (Victoria and Albert museum). It was opened in 1857 and thanks to the Morris, Gamble and Poynter refreshment rooms it was also the first restaurant museum in the world. What’s better in life than being educated and fed?
Flood forecasting lions
We bet you would feel safe if one lion was looking after you. What about a line of lions?
Londoners can sleep sound. They have their own protective lions looking after them. But these are very special lions that can help you understand whether London is at risk of flooding or not. They are steel heads of lions incrusted into the Thames stone walls. Essentially, if the Thames reaches their mouth then the city is at risk of flooding. If it’s below their mouth, London will be trouble free. You can see these on the river walls close to Vauxhall Bridge.
On the corner of the Strand and Surrey Street lies an abandoned tube station: Aldwych station also known as the Strand station. This station was closed back in 1994 for economic reasons (= it was cheaper to close it than to run it). This station was used as a shelter during the Second World War but it has also been used in many movies since 1952. Recently, it was used in movies such as: V for Vendetta (2006), 28 Weeks Later (2007), Mr Selfridge (2013) and Sherlock (2014). Its use in film productions is made easy due to the fact that nobody uses the station and due to the fact that the track and infrastructure have been kept in operational condition.
Britain’s smallest police station
Most of us have heard of 1984 (the creepy book about the dystopian world imagined by George Orwell). But someone could have written a similar one years earlier titled… 1926!
That’s the year it was decided that an unassuming lamp post (located in the south east corner of Trafalgar Square) would be used by policemen to keep an eye on demonstrations taking place at Trafalgar Square. Clearly, Big Brother was already watching back in 1926….
Marble Arch surveillance rooms
Let’s carry on with the topic of surveillance…
Most of us have also heard of Marble Arch. This monument designed by John Nash in 1828 was the entrance to Buckingham Palace. In theory (and historically) only a selected few were permitted through it. No prize for guessing who…
But what you might not be aware of is that there might have been 3 small rooms inside the arch that were used by the police for surveillance purposes in the 1950s.
Clearly, London and surveillance is not a new topic…
These were our 7 surprising facts. We hope to surprise you some more in the future.
These little facts highlight why London is such a fascinating place. One can live here all his life and still have plenty to discover. That’s why there is no time to be bored in London.
Make sure you are not! Go out there and explore the city, open your eyes and ears and you will be marvelled by all the little things London is still hiding from you! And then come back home and share your findings with us 🙂