London is the biggest city in the UK and one of the biggest cities in Europe and the Northern Hemisphere. I visited city in November 2004 and I’ll never forget that trip. It was an eye-opening experience for me (even though it rained on most of the days I was there). I just loved the city’s energy, seeing some historic sites and landmarks and interacting with people who lived and worked in the city.
London has probably changed a lot since I visited it 15 years ago, but the fact that the city has a rich culture and history hasn’t really changed. All the historically significant buildings are still standing.
I could probably do a 101 Facts piece about London, but I honestly don’t want to bore you with a whole bunch of facts that you probably already know. So I decided to summarize it instead.
Here are 10 Interesting Facts you might not have known about London
1. Black Cab Drivers have to complete “The Knowledge” Test before they can start driving in London
In order for a person to become a black cab driver, they must complete this rigorous test. This involves memorizing every single street in London. Some cab drivers spend two to four years to learn them all. Potential cab drivers must master 320 basic routes, 25,000 streets and about 20,000 landmarks and places of interest within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross.
2. More than 1.35 billion passengers use the London Underground annually
The London Underground (referred by locals as “The Tube”) has been around since 1863. The network contains 402 kilometers of track, 440 escalators, 188 passenger lifts, 4 moving walkways and 77 step-free stations.
3. Jimi Hendrix play his last public show in London in 1970
Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club on Frith Street was the site of Jimi Hendrix’s last public performance in 1970. Eric Burton from War invited him to play there. He died 2 days after this.
4. Stone Masons enjoyed dinner on top of Nelson’s Column before it was completed
This happened in 1842 in Trafalgar Square. This was before the statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson was erected on top of it. The construction of Nelson’s Column took 3 years and the monument is 51 meters (169 feet) tall.
5. The original medieval London Bridge was in use for more than 600 years
The current crossing (which opened to traffic in 1973) is a box girder bridge built from concrete and steel. This bridge replaced a 19th-century stone-arched bridge (which had replaced the 600 year old medieval stone structure).
The medieval stone structure was superseded by a series of timber bridges (which were built by the Romans). Guy Fawkes and William Wallace’s heads were displayed here on spikes as a warning to wannabe troublemakers.
6. All Hallows-by-the-Tower is the oldest church in London
The church was founded in 675 AD and it’s undercroft features recycled Roman pavement that dates back to then 2nd Century AD.The earliest records of an organ in All Hallows is one by Anthony Duddyngton from 1521 AD.
7. London was the capital city of 6 countries at the same time
This was when the city was a safe haven for governments of countries that were attacked by Hitler in World War 2. It was the capital for the Polish government-in-exile, Norway, Belgium, Holland and France.
8. The Tower of London housed a polar bear in the 13th Century
In 1251 the King of Norway gave Henry III the bear. The bear was tied to a long chain so it could swim in the river Thames and catch fish. From the 1200s to 1835, the Tower housed a menagerie of exotic wild animals, never before seen in London. The Tower was originally constructed by William The Conqueror in the 11th Century.
9. It has been illegal to drink alcohol while using the public transport system since 2008
On the day before the law passed, thousands of people took a train ride on the Circle Line to ride in a circle for hours while drinking booze.
10. The Times New Roman typeface was commissioned by The Times of London in 1931
They invented it after they were accused of being “badly printed and typographically antiquated”. It’s still very common in book and general printing and it has become one of the most popular and influential typefaces in history. It’s also the standard typeface on most desktop computers.
Well, there you have it, 10 interesting facts that you might not known about London. If you’ve found this interesting, feel free to share it with your friends. If you have another fact to share, feel free to comment below.
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Blogger, Desktop Activist, Twitter / Facebook Addict, Music Festival Addict, Avid lover of South African music, Founder and owner of Running Wolf’s Rant