Answered Questions

These are some the questions I’ve been asked during tours and to which I knew or subsequently found out the answer. Questions still challenging me are at Unanswered Questions.

Is St Anne’s church in Limehouse still an active church?

It is Church of England and has services on Sunday morning and evening.

Which Cannon Street building has water filled piping to help with cooling?

80 Cannon Street built by Arup in 1976. The pipes are actually are to help keep temperature down in event of a fire.

What does the Catrin Glyndwr statue depict?

A mother protecting her child, shown as a bird’s wings wrapped around a fledgling.

Do you ever see rats on this [Limehouse and West] walk?


Is Wapping station Art Nouveau?

It is not Art Nouveau. It has no particular architectural style but might be deemed “Victorian Railway Utilitarian”.

What are the logos on 1 and 5 Bank Street [Isle of Dogs]?

One of them is Société Générale

Are Seahorses actually fish?

Yes, from the genus Hippocampus which derives from the Greek words “Hippos” (horse) and “Kampos” (Sea Monster).

Does one have to book up to take a boat through the lock from the Thames to Limehouse Basin and is there a charge?

There is a fee (amount not known); booking may be needed 24 hours in advance depending on the time of day, day of the week and time of the year.

Are you a member of Shadwell Basin?

Er, no.

Why are you called Pudding Lane Tours?

In the 1970s my father worked in Lombard Street in the City. He would take friends and colleagues on walks around the City (for ‘walk’ read ‘thinly disguised pub crawl’) and several of those walks started in Pudding Lane.

What was the route of the first Docklands Light Railway line?

The network opened with two lines. One from Tower Gateway on the eastern border of the City to Island Gardens in the south of the Isle Of Dogs. The other ran from Stratford also to Island Gardens.

Why is swimming dangerous in Shadwell Basin?

Crocodiles, obviously!
One hazard is underwater obstacles. Another is silt – if a swimmer gets a foot stuck then gravity will drag them down into the mud. Three deaths by drowning have been recorded since 2010.

Would the flats around Limekiln Wharf flood if the Thames Barrier failed?

Based on some historical data and back-of-a-fag-packet reckoning, water could rise to 10 feet on top of high water on a “spring” (high) tide. This would be enough to burst the banks at Limehouse but 1st floor properties would not be directly affected.

Is Gordon Ramsey a Freemason? [in connection with his restaurant in Limehouse and the Limehouse Pyramid]

Possibly not the strangest question I’ve been asked but certainly a runner-up. There’s no reason to think so but members’ records are not accessible to the public nor indeed to other Freemasons.

Why is Barleycorn Way in Limehouse so called?

The road led to the Barley Mow brewery which operated from 1630 to 1960.

Where are the four Rotherhithe Tunnel ventilation shafts?

From south to north:-
1. Corner of Brunel Road and Canon Beck Road in Rotherhithe
2, Octagon Court, Rotherhithe (visible from shaft 3).
3. King Edward memorial park, Shadwell (visible from shaft 2).
4. Corner of The Highway and Heckford Street, Shadwell. This is not the original building which was demolished in 1967 for a road widening scheme.

Which churches can fly the White Ensign apart from St Anne’s Limehouse?

There are 8 other churches, the only one in London is St Martin in the Fields.

How much must a vessel pay to have Tower Bridge opened?

Not a penny, it is free.

What does the Birchin in Birchin Lane mean?

The Lane of the Barbers.

From whom did JMW Turner inherit the two cottages which became the Old Star pub?

From his Uncle Joseph Marshall, his mother’s brother, who was a butcher in Brentford in West London.

Why and when is a bale of straw hung under London bridges?

An old tradition last observed at Millennium Bridge in December 2023. It is to indicate that workers are underneath the bridge and that headroom is reduced as a result. By night a white light is used instead,

Where can one buy Lord Mayor’s honey?

Some of it is sold on City Giving Day.

Is JP Morgan an American bank?

The original JP Morgan was a British Bank formed in the mid 1800s which merged with Chase National Bank in 2000 to form JP Morgan-Chase. Today, therefore, it is American.

Did Lloyds insure the Titanic?

Yes, the policy was for £1 million and was paid out within 30 days of the sinking.

What did Judge John Jeffries die from?

He died in the Tower of London from kidney disease of which he had been a chronic sufferer.

Where were the pumps feeding the Hydraulic Ring Main?

These were found at Bankside (Southwark), City Road (near Liverpool Street station), East India Dock (Blackwall), Limehouse Basin, Mansell Street (City of London/Tower Hamlets), Pimlico, Rotherhithe and Shadwell Basin.

Is the Import Dock (West India Quay) smaller than it was?

The north wall by the Museum is original but part of the south side of the dock has been reclaimed.

Was St Anne’s Limehouse rebuilt in its original style?


How long does the Plague virus last?

It’s a bacterium rather than a virus. In dry conditions or when exposed to sunlight it lives no longer than 72 hours. In damp dark conditions survival for up to 24 days has been recorded. No long term data seems to be available though bacteria in general cannot survive more than three years without sustenance (unless frozen when they can last for millennia – 120,000 years is the current record).

Was Mozart a freemason?

Yes, initiated into a Vienna lodge at the age of 28.

Did St Anne’s Limehouse suffer bomb damage?

It suffered minor damage during both world wars but nothing structural.

How many churches are there in the City?

I didn’t know the exact number and hazarded a guess at fifty, I was not far wrong.

What are the entry requirements and fees for Christ’s Hospital school today?

Pupils must show “academic potential”. Boarding fees are £14,000 per term though bursaries and the occasional free place are offered. Day pupil fees are £7,000 to £9,000

What was the City population in 1066?

Around 15,000.