By Jenny Dreiling
September 22, 2016
Top 10 Interesting Facts about London
Everyone agrees London is full of surprises and there are endless things to do, see and discover. Many of us think we know London so well or at least our neck of the woods, but do we really? These interesting figures and facts about London will most likely surprise and amuse you! Please don’t hesitate to share some facts about London with us that deserve mentioning!
1) Church of St Martin’s-in-the-Fields is the Centre of London
We know it’s confusing to London newbies to make sense of why there is ‘Central London‘ and ‘The City of London‘. In fact, The City of London is London’s ancient core and used to be the centre of the city. However, over the centuries London’s centre shifted West towards Westminster and Buckingham Palace, now known as Central London. Although both areas are vibrant, have plenty of things to do and see and equally have a range of London’s best known attractions, Central London is in fact the centre. To be precise, if you want to right in the middle of the city head to the Church of St Martin’s-in-the-Fields which overlooks Trafalgar Square.
2) The Red London Bus was Born in 1907
Buses existed in London of course before 1907. However, most of them were still horse drawn and they could be found in all different shapes and colours. This is because there were many different rival companies operating in the city and each serving individual routes. In an attempt to distinguish themselves from the competition one company – namely the London General Omnibus Company streamlined their fleet, in 1907. Not long after the LGOC’s red buses dominated the streets of London, still to this day.
3) Covent Garden is a Spelling Mistake
Yes, it’s true and it has never been corrected. One of Central London most popular areas ‘Covent Garden‘ is misspelled. It was supposed to be named ‘Convent’ Garden because the area used to host a convent market.
4) The Tower Bridge Walkway Was Home to Prostitutes
Tower Bridge’s top part used to be open to the public as walkway. However, it became such a popular place for prostitutes that The City of London closed the walkway in 1910. Nowadays you can visit the
5) The Cutty Sark is the Last Intact Clipper Ship in the World
Built in 1869, the Cutty Sark was one of the fastest merchant and best known tea clipper ships of its time. When the steam engine technology began to dominate the industry the Cutty Sark was converted into a museum ship in 1895. To see the ship and visit the museum head to Royal Greenwich situated in the southeast of London. Greenwich is also well known for being home of the Greenwich Mean Time line, vibrant Greenwich Market and beautiful Greenwich Park.
6) There No Capsule No 13 of the London Eye
This giant Ferris wheel known as the London Eye or Millennium Wheel was erected in 1999 in celebration of the 2000 millennium. It is 135 meter or 443 feet tall which makes it the tallest Ferris wheel in the world at the time. Up to this day it is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the entire United Kingdom and welcomes over 3.75 mission visitors a year. In total there are 32 capsules which represent the 32 boroughs of Greater London. However, the capsules are numbered 1 to 33. This is because of supersticious negativ believes about the number 13 which has consequently been omitted to avoid bad luck.
7) Harrods Sold Cocaine to Customers up until 1916
Looking for the perfect gift while souvenir shopping in London? How about some good old Harrods cocaine? It’s true! Harrods legally sold cocaine to customers over the counter up until 1916. Cocaine was sold as a remedy “for when the nose is stuffed up, red and sore”. Harrods was also selling a kit described as “A Welcome Present for Friends at the Front” containing cocaine, morphine, syringes and needles.
After 1916 legislation changed and cocaine was no longer sold over the counter. However, up until the early 1960s British doctors prescribed heroin and cocaine to patients with one doctor prescribing more than 600,000 prescribed more than 600,000 heroin tablets to hundreds of users.
8) It’s Illegal to Die in the Houses of Parliament
Have you ever heard of ridiculous old laws that are technically still intact? Well, this is one of them. Clearly it had to be in our list of Top Interesting Facts About London. The law dates back to 1313 which not only states that wearing armour is forbidden in the House of Parliament but also dying! Not quite sure how prosecution would work after you dared to illegally die in Parliament but there you go.
9) London Heathrow Airport is Named after Heathrow Hamlet
Another interesting fact about London concerns Heathrow Airport. Heathrow Airport is UK’s busiest airport with 75 million passengers in 2015. Situated 23 kilometers West of Central London the airport covers 12.27 square kilometres (4.74 sq miles) in former hamlet ‘Heathrow’. This rural sleepy hamlet was demolished in 1944 for the construction of London Heathrow Airport and all that left of the town is its name.
10) Canary Wharf Is Named After the Canary Islands
The area where we find one of Europe’s most important financial hub – Canary Wharf used to handle cargo from the Canary Islands. It’s hard to belief that one of London’s most rapidly expanding real estate markets with multi million pound properties and London’s second impressive skyline used to be a storage area.
West India Quays which forms part of the Canary Wharf area handled goods from the West Indies. Contrary to stocks and bonds nowadays in the early 20th century bananas and sugar were the traded commodities.