the london compendium guide to my week – Day One

st olafAlready thinking I’ve bitten off a bit more than I can chew, in no small part due to a busier and much longer shift than planned yesterday, sometimes you just have to go with the flow as a cabbie.  But I’m going to plow on with my aim of plotting my day though The London Compendium (from now referred to as TLC. ) I didn’t have a very auspicious start, but that shouldn’t really have been a surprise.  Starting my day from the Heathrow Feeder Park was always going to set TLC a challenge and as predicted, there is no mention of the Feeder Park in the book, I may have to email Ed to get this rectified.  I ended up at Terminal 5 and took a nice American family to Catford, another blank in terms of TLC.  I had to wait until my 3rd job to get a reference in TLC, so here goes (I’ve highlighted the location/place that the extract from TLC references)

St Pancras Station, N1 to Southgate Road, N1 – Among the streets demolished (to build St Pancras) was Eve Court where Dan Leno, the leading late 19th century music hall performer, was born as George Galvin in 1860.  He later recalled his birthplace on stage, with the refrain: ‘Ah! What is man? Wherefore does he why? Whence did he whence? Whither is he withering? Then the guard yelled out; “Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, Manchester, Liverpool”‘

Strand, WC2 to Dunton Road, SE1 – Nos 229-230, The Wig & Pen Club.  ‘One of the few buildings remaining in the Strand from before the Great Fire, it is patronized by those connected with the law.’

Tooley Street, SE1 to the Design Museum, Shad Thames, SE1 – Pick up by St Olaf House ‘An art deco 1932 block built for the Hay’s Wharf company on the facade of which the name of the company is picked out in gold lettering.’, dropped off at Shad Thames ‘One of the best preserved stretches of early nineteenth century industrial warehouses in London creates a canyon of brick whose upper floors are connected by a lattice of iron bridge.’  The streets name ‘is a corruption of St John at Thames’.

Moorgate, EC2 to Beak Street, W1 –  From No. 46 Moorgate ‘The Soviet Union ran a spy ring….under the guise of the All-Russian Co-Operative Society (ARCOS) which was mostly ignored by the British authorities until the Soviet government tried to capitalize on political unrest caused by the 1926 General Strike’.  Beak St ‘was Silver Street when the Italian artist Canaletto took a lease on a studio at No. 41 in 1746 and was renamed after Thomas Beake, one of Queen Anne’s messengers.

Grosvenor House Hotel, W1 to Brook Street, W1 – Candidate, along with King William St to London Bridge Hospital, for my shortest job of the day.  The Grosvenor House Hotel ‘became a refuge for the wealthy and powerful, including the Dutch Cabinet’ and ‘the French resistance leader Charles de Gaulle, who rallied his followers with a speech here on Bastille Day 1941’.  Brook St, just a short hop away, is home to Claridge’s where Robert Maxwell, after buying Mirror Group Newspapers, ‘arrived late for the meeting, for en route his chauffer was so annoyed at being bullied into jumping the lights, overtaking the car in front, and taking unnecessary short cuts that he got out of the car and shouted to Maxwell: “If you’re so bloody ggod, you drive”, leaving him alone in the vehicle.’

Curzon Street, W1 to Egerton gardens, SW3 – Curzon Street is one of Mayfair’s busiest roads, especially popular with us cabbies.  ‘The security service MI5 set up base after the Second World War in a building that….was fortified with gun ports in it’s south west corner, installed in case German paratroppers landed in the nearby parks and began street battles in Mayfair’.

Harrods, Brompton Road, SW1 to Queensborough Terrace, W2 – Henry Harrod had opened his first grocery store in Stepney, moving to Belgravia in 1849, ‘they installed Britains first escalator, at the top of which was an attendant equipped with sal volatile and brandy to resuscitate those troubled by moving stairs.’

Maida Vale, W9 to St Mary’s Hospital, W2 – ‘Alexander Fleming discovered the germ killing properties of penicillin at St Mary’s Hospital on 3 September 1928 by accident while looking for a chemical that could stop bacterial infection.’

Baker Street, W1 to Jamestown Road, NW1 – No. 94, Apple Boutique. ‘The Beatles opened a boutique here in December 1967 with an announcement by Paul McCartney that it would be run according to “Western communism principles”.  The store was a financial disaster and closed on 30 July 1968 with all £15,000 worth of stock given away to members of the public.’

Buckingham Palace Road, SW1 to Ludgate Hill, EC4 – Where it all started?   ‘According to London legend Brutus, grandson of the Trojan king Aeneas, a direct descendant of the Hebrew tribe founder, Judah, built a city, New Troy on Ludgate Hill c. 1100 BC, which was rebuilt in the year 113 BC by Lud and renamed Caerlud (the city of Lud), a name later corrupted to Caerlundein, Londinium, and simply London.’

Cockspur Street, SW1 to Commercial Street, E1 – Christ Church Spitalfields, Ed tells us, is ‘the most famous and striking of Nicholas Hawksmoor’s six surviving London churches,’  and ‘the church’s imperious beauty has long captivated writers.  In his 1975 collection, Lud Heat, Ian Sinclair claimed that the three East End Hawksmoor churches – Christ Church, St George-in-the-East and St Anne, Limehouse – “were centres of power for those territories; sentinal, sphinx form, dynamos abandoned as the culture they supported went into retreat”, while the novelist Peter Ackroyd (my note  – remember him??) drew inspiration for his 1985 mystery novel, Hawksmoor, from the church, setting much of the book here.

Fenchurch Street, EC3 to London Bridge Station, SE1 – ‘home of the King’s Head Tavern, ….where Princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I) enjoyed a meal of pork and peas on 10 May 1554 after being released from the Tower,’

So there you have it, London history and stories as dictated by the whims of London’s cab punters.  These aren’t all the jobs I did yesterday but they are the ones that start or finish with a reference in TLC, look out for part 2 tomorrow.


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