Trivia

Fun Facts & Trivia concerning The Unfinished City.

WESTMINSTER
  • There are currently 1,100 rooms in the Palace of Westminster.
  • The Palace of Westminster covers 8 acres.
  • The Palace of Westminster became a Grade I listed building in 1970 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
  • No animals, with the exception of guide dogs, are allowed in the Palace of Westminster. Having said that, the palace is infested with mice.
  • In 1868, the World's first traffic light was erected outside the House of Commons. The following year it exploded, injuring the policeman who operated it.
TOWER BRIDGE
  • In 1912, Frank McClean had to fly his biplane between the bascules and the walkways, of Tower Bridge, to avoid an accident.
  • In 1952, Albert Gunton, a bus driver, had to leap his No. 78 bus from one bascule of Tower Bridge to the other, when the bridge began to rise with his bus still on it.
  • At low tide the River Thames is about 9 metres deep, below Tower Bridge.
  • Tower Bridge was not bombed, during World War II, as the enemy used it as a navigation landmark.
  • In 1976, after 82 years of service, the steam powered engines, used to raise the bridge, were replaced with electricity.
  • During its eight years of construction 432 men were employed, with only 10 fatalities.
GREENWICH
  • The Royal Borough of Greenwich has 183 acres of parkland and more open spaces than any other London borough.
  • The MillenniuM Dome, as it was originally called is built with the history of Greenwich Mean Time at the fore: It is 365m (days) in diameter, 52m (weeks) high and has 12 (months) support struts.
CUTTY SARK
  • The Cutty Sark could reach speeds of over 17 knots.
  • The Cutty Sark’s figurehead is a young witch named ‘Nannie’ who was a character in the poem ‘Tam O’Shanter’, by Scottish poet Robert Burns. The poem concerns Tam, a farmer who, after an evening of drinking, was riding home on his horse called Meg. On his way, he saw that the churchyard was occupied by a collection of witches, with the Devil himself playing the bagpipes. Tam saw that among the group of witches, there was one which was young and beautiful. Her name was Nannie, and she wore only a ‘cutty sark’, Tam was bewitched and, in his excitement, he cried out “Weel done cutty sark!” The witches then pursued Tam, who fled for his life to the bridge over the river Doon, for he knew that witches could not cross running water. Nannie was faster than the others and, as the mare galloped over the bridge, she seized it by the tail, which came off in her hand. Hence, the figurehead is always shown holding a horse’s tail in her left hand.
  • The Cutty Sark was only the second-ever historic vessel to be opened to the public. The first being Drake's Golden Hind, which opened to the public in the 16th century.
THAMES BARRIER
  • The Thames Barrier is expected to provide protection, for London, until 2070, although its standard of protection will decline gradually from around 2030.
  • The main risk to the Thames Barrier is, strangely enough, fire in the electric motors that operate it.
DOCKLANDS
  • The Millennium Mills buildings, in London Docklands, were where Winalot dog biscuits were first manufactured.
  • The Millennium Mills buildings, in London Docklands, have been used in numerous film and television shows, including: Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, Terry Gilliam's Brazil and the Ashes to Ashes TV series.
THE SHARD
  • The Shard is the fourth tallest building in Europe and the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom.
  • The exterior of The Shard is made up of 11,000 glass panels.
  • On a clear day you can see up to 40 miles (60 km) in all directions. from the observation decks, of The Shard.
  • The lifts, in The Shard, travel at a speed of 6 metres per second.
BROADCASTING HOUSE
  • The first radio broadcast was made from here, on March 15, 1932, while the first news bulletin was read from here on March 18. This was two months before the building was officially opened, on May 15, 1932.
  • At any one time it provides public service broadcasting to over 10 million people across the UK.
  • Broadcasts to a worldwide audience of more than 150 million people every week, are made from here.
  • On March 18, 2013, BBC News made its first broadcast from its new home in Broadcasting House.
BATTERSEA PARK: PEACE PAGODA
  • During construction the workers lived in what is now the Children's Zoo,
  • Permission to build the Peace Pagoda was the last legislative act of the Greater London Council.
  • The London Peace Pagoda was only the second to built in a Western capital city. The first was built in Vienna, in 1983.
PICCADILLLY LIGHTS
  • The screens cover 767 square metres.
  • Yoko Ono paid for the quote “Imagine all the people living life in peace” to be illuminated for three months, in 2002.
  • The lights have been turned off on three occasions (not including during WWII); 1965 - Sir Winston Churchill's funeral: 1987 - Diana, Princess of Wales' funeral: 2007 - For one hour as part of the Lights Out London campaign
  • 71,760,000 pedestrians walk past these signs each year.
RIVER THAMES: FORESHORE
  • Mudlark could still be claimed as an occupation, up until 1904.
  • A cache of some two and a half thousand buttons, dating from the 14th - 19th centuries were donated to the Museum of London, in 2009, by Anthony Pilson. Tony was a founding member of the Society of Thames Mudlarks.
  • River Thames mud is anaerobic, which means that metal will not rust if encased in the mud.
  • Mudlark was an 18th Century slang term for a Pig.
VARIOUS PLACES
  • A plaque in St Martin's-in-the-Fields church marks the exact centre of London.
  • More people took shelter from air raids, in the London Underground System, during the first World War, than the second. 
  • The pipe organ in the Royal Albert Hall is the second largest in the British Isles, with 9,997 pipes in 147 stops.
  • The Prince Charles Cinema is one of only three repertory cinemas left in London.
  • The capsules, on the London Eye, rotate at a speed of 26cm per second.
STATUES & MEMORIALS
  • William Huskisson, a statue of whom stands in Pimlico Gardens, was the world's first person to be killed by a railway locomotive.
  • The Victoria Memorial became Grade I Listed, in 1970.
  • At 82 feet, the Victoria Memorial is the tallest monument to a King or Queen in England.
  • 2,300 tons of marble was used in the construction of the Victoria Memorial.
  • Only six 'named' people died when the Great Fire raged through London, in 1666. This does not include those who were incinerated, or those of whom whose remains could not be identified. However, seven people died from jumping, or falling, from the Monument, built to commemorate it, before a safety rail was installed.
  • The Dockers statue, in Docklands, is one of the largest figurative statues in London, with the figures being nine feet in height.
  • The three figures in the Dockers sculpture are, Patrick Holland, an ex Seaman who was a Stevedore on the docks, for 20 years; John Ringwood, an ex Seaman who later became a worker on the docks; Mark Tibbs, who came from a Boxing family in Canning Town.
MISCELLANEOUS
  • A 21-gun salute can consist of 62 rounds being fired.
  • Stompie, The T-34 tank, was used in the Prague Spring Revolution, of 1968, where it was used to crush dissent, before it was decommissioned and brought to the UK, in the early 1990s, along with other tanks and military vehicles no longer required by the Russian Military.
  • Stompie was originally Military Green before being painted pink, by Aleksandra Mir of Cubitt Artists, in 2002. In 2008, it was again repainted with a black and cream swirl design and, in 2009, a pink and white colour scheme. Graffiti4hire gave the tank a makeover, in 2009, by transforming its livery into that of a yellow New York taxi. Stompie's current livery, of orange and black stripes, was painted in 2014, with the remembrance poppy commemorating the start of World War I.
  • In 1995, Stompie, was used in the filming of Richard III, starring Ian McKellen, before being sold by a military salvage dealer.

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