Category Archives: Transport

Unanswered Questions

From time to time I am asked a question which I think is worth mentioning – or sometimes where I actually don’t know the answer! Here are some such and in most cases some answers.

UNANSWERED (if anybody can offer answers then please leave a comment)

Where are the Rotherhithe Tunnel ventilation towers?

Was St Paul’s Shadwell rebuilt in its original style?

Where exactly was the News International print works?

Is Wapping station Art Nouveau?

Were there many churches in Limehouse?

Why is St Anne’s, Limehouse so big?

What is served at an Execution Breakfast?
This relates to the Magpie and Stump pub which stands on the street called Old Bailey opposite what was once the site of public executions. The landlord made a nice earning by providing guests with a first floor room where they could watch the action at the gallows whilst enjoying an Execution Breakfast.


ANSWERED

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), Mansell Street (City of London/Tower Hamlets), Pimlico, Rotherhithe and Wapping Wall (Shadwell).

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

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

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

Yes

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.

Metro Memory

This is very trivial and tangential but it does relate to the City and Docklands and is rather fun, albeit a thief of time.

How does it work? It tests your memory or knowledge of London’s public transport.

You type in, one by one, every ‘metro’ station that you can remember. This means Underground, Overground, Docklands Light Railway and Elizabeth Line. Out of town stations such as Reading on the Lizzie Line are included (there’s a free one for you!).

Tramlink and National Rail stations are excluded unless they are metro stations as well.

A map will show which stations you’ve entered. You can move the map around to see the blanks and (maybe) remind you of stations that you have missed. The map is geographic instead of schematic and it’s interesting to see where stations are in relation to each other.

A counter will indicate what percentage of them you’ve so far managed to remember. There are over 500 in total.

Find the quiz at london.metro-memory.com – and don’t blame me if you get engrossed and forget to eat or pick up the children.

You can play it on your phone but laptop or PC is better as you get a better view of the map.

If you don’t finish in one go then you can carry on from where you left off another time. This applies even if you’ve closed your browser or restarted your computer – provided you’ve not cleared cookies in the meantime.

The game will, not unreasonably, ask for a donation from time to time. You can bypass this and carry on or bung in a few quid as the quiz would have involved quite a bit of work.

Aficionados of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue will, of course, finish at Mornington Crescent.

Test your METRO MEMORY

Tower Subway

A little way north of the Uber boat station by the Tower Of London you might notice a small cylindrical building called the Hydraulic Tower,

Today it carries a water main, hence the name, but its heritage is rather different.

Quite possibly you have used the nearby Tower Hill underground station which is not far from the site of the old Tower Of London station which opened in 1882 as a terminus for the Metropolitan Railway.

Even this, though, was not the first railway on Tower Hill.

In 1870 the Tower Subway, a 2’6” narrow gauge railway, was built from Tower Hill under the Thames to Vine Lane off Tooley Street by London Bridge station. There was a single carriage which was pulled by cables connected to a static steam engine at each end. It proved unreliable and a passenger died in an accident with the lift.

In 1871 the railway was taken up and it became a pedestrian tunnel with a toll of a halfpenny. It attracted a million transits each year. A bit of maths: 480 halfpennies to the pound, divide by 52, works out at £40 per week which was not a bad bit of bunce in the late 1800s – equivalent to £4,700 in 2020.

In 1898 it went out of business because of the free crossing afforded by Tower Bridge which opened in 1894. Today it carries a water main and phone lines. You can, however, see the original entrance.

The tunnel was bored by pioneer engineer James Greathead using an adaptation of Marc Brunel’s tunnelling shield as used to build the Wapping Tunnel.

The Tower Subway features on my Tower Hill tour.