[tube] Mapped: Fictional Stations On The London Underground … impressive list of fake tube stations from Londonist … ‘Hobbs End featured in the cult horror film Quartermass and the Pit. It was a new station on the Central line that became the nexus for some spooky goings-on (‘hob’ being an old word for the devil)’
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August 22, 2016
[tubes] Diamond Geezer takes the World Record for the fastest time visting every station on the Night Tube on Opening Night … ‘Guinness’s pernickety rules don’t allow a single challenger with incomplete evidence to claim the world record, so my time of 3 hours, 24 minutes and 7 seconds won’t be officially ratified. It’s also true that the Night Tube network is as yet incomplete, so all I’ve done is visit every station on the first two lines, which isn’t anywhere near the final tally. But when all five lines are running it’ll be totally impossible to cover the entire Night Tube in one night, so I’ve grabbed the record while someone can, and now it’s mine.’
[london] Sexy Fish: not so much a restaurant as a museum of London’s rich … amusing review from Tanya Gold of a new fish restaurant for the super-rich in London … ‘It is huge — a former NatWest — and decorated with a glittering Frank Gehry crocodile, a Damien Hirst mermaid — how did Hirst ever pass for revolutionary? — and Iran. (Apologies. I misread the PR babble. The floor is from Iran.) The golden ceiling — which I read about in the London Evening Standard, because ceilings can be news, if they are ‘it’ ceilings — is apparently by the style-editor-at-large of Vanity Fair, which I thought was a made-up job but apparently is not. In the basement private room there is a fish tank, where the ‘sexy’ fish — brightly coloured, minute and somehow heartbreaking — swim like tiny fishy slaves. I have never seen a restaurant whose ethos is so clearly and comprehensively, so preeningly and unapologetically: ‘Fuck you, I’m rich and I want a golden cave and servants. I want a pony and all the hookers I can strangle. I want a pyramid of cocaine and an Audi -Quattro.’ It is like being punched in the face by Abu Dhabi.’
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November 20, 2015
[london] How Deep Does London Go? … A look at how far down the tunnels are under London … ‘The tube varies greatly in depth, but is typically 24m. The deepest point is below Hampstead Heath at Bull and Bush (where a station was part-built, but never completed), which reaches 67m. The deepest space in London is the recently completed Lee Tunnel, a relief sewer that slopes down to 80m beneath Beckton.’
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October 13, 2015
[london] Did the tube strike improve London’s economy? … ‘Do tube strikes cost the economy millions of pounds in lost productivity, or do they shake up people and change behaviour in a way that offsets the loss? That’s indirectly, a question that has been asked by a group of researchers who took advantage of the tube strike to test a difficult to test idea, known as the Porter-hypothesis Porter argued that – when information is imperfect – externally imposed forced experimentation can help people discover unexpected improvements in efficiency.’
[crime] Denmark Place arson: Why people are still searching for answers 35 years on from one of the biggest mass murders in our history … London, 1980: 37 people were murdered and then promptly forgotten about … ‘The fire’s causes and consequences partly explain the amnesia, [John] Withington suggests. There were no terrorists nor a cartoonish serial killer. It was the era of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, and Dennis Nilsen, the Muswell Hill murderer, who worked in a Job Centre yards away when the fire happened, and used to find victims in the area. The Denmark Place murderer was a hateful, stupid criminal with a match. In the harsh world of news, that was less of a story. Thompson was arrested nine days later, while drinking at a club less than 200m from his own crime scene. He was tried at the Old Bailey the following May for just one murder, that of Archibald Campbell, 63. It was simpler that way. The trial clashed with the Ripper’s, drawing most reporters to the next-door court. The following year, Thompson’s life sentence earned a few column inches. When he died of lung cancer on the anniversary of the fire, in 2008, while handcuffed to a hospital bed, nobody noticed that either. Moreover, there was never a public inquiry. The clubs were illegal. There seemed to be few lessons to learn, no institution to blame…’
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July 7, 2015
Evening Standard Billboard Flashback: The Olympic 2012 Bid Win and 7/7 as Breaking News
Over ten years ago, in 2004, I started taking photographs of Evening Standard headline billboards as I left work or at lunchtime. If the headlines were interesting I would post them to Flickr. I carried on taking the pictures regularly till late in 2010.
Early in July 2005 two big breaking news events happened to London on consecutive days. Firstly, on July 6th the UK won its bid to host the 2012 Olympics in London. You can see the news story develop during that day in the sequence of photos below…
The next day, on July 7th a gang of terrorists detonated three suicide bombs on London Underground trains and later a further bomb on a bus. 52 people were killed and 700 were injured. It was the UK’s first suicide bombing.
I didn’t manage to get into Central London that day because the travel system shut down but the next day I snapped a photo of an empty billboard – no papers or posters had been delivered in Shepherd’s Bush where I worked. Underneath the posters the boards themselves said: “London’s Paper”. It seemed appropriate somehow.
Unsurprisingly, during the next few weeks the Evening Standard’s billboards focussed on the bombings, the victims, the terrorists themselves and the causes of terrorism.
By August, things had calmed down in London and the headlines had to returned to normal. Although, the Evening Standard logo had gained a “London Stands United” tag line. (We need reminding?)
What I didn’t realise at the time was that I was recording the last years of the posters. In 2010, the Evening Standard went free and the development of smart-phones and social media killed the posters as a breaking news source. The boards these days (if you see them at all) seem to lack a certain something. You can find the whole set of billboard photos here on Flickr if you’re interested in more.
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May 29, 2015
[london] London’s Most Mysterious Mansion … some detective work on who owns London’s largest mansion … ‘Beneath the forecourt, in front of the main house, the new owners have built what amounts to an underground village—a basement of more than forty thousand square feet. (The largest residential property in Manhattan is said to be a fifty-one-thousand-square-foot mansion, on East Seventy-first Street between Madison and Fifth, owned by Jeffrey Epstein.) This basement, which is connected to the Orangery, includes a seventy-foot-long swimming pool, a cinema with a mezzanine, massage rooms, a sauna, a gym, staff quarters, and parking spaces for twenty-five cars. In late 2013, the local council approved plans for a second basement, beneath the gatehouse, which will connect that building to both the main house and the Orangery. Earlier this year, the owners also sought planning permission to extend an underground “servants’ passage.” When the refurbishment is complete, Witanhurst will have about ninety thousand square feet of interior space, making it the second-largest mansion in the city, after Buckingham Palace. It will likely become the most expensive house in London.’
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April 18, 2014
[history] The Last Places … the remarkable story of how Henry VIII’s wine cellar came to be perfectly preserved under the Ministry of Defence Main Building in Whitehall … ‘Writing in a 2010 issue of the AA Files Andrew Crompton describes the design of the poetically named MoD Main Building, which was “so slow in coming out of the ground that it became know as the Whitehall Monster.” In addition to the understandable delay caused by World War Two, Crompton ascribes its astonishing twenty-one year construction to the fact that the MoD Monster has “embedded within it a series of spaces that seem to have more to do with sympathetic magic than functional architecture.” Included among these embedded spaces are a Gothic crypt, a crooked staircase that leads nowhere, “five very fine eighteenth-century interiors” — the first ever preserved outside of a museum — and, of course, Henry VIII’s long-lost wine cellar.’
[london] What is it like to live on Britain’s most expensive street?… ‘Eskimo Ice services draws up outside one house – the company delivers ice sculptures for parties, and its website shows glassy ice lions and carved statues of the London skyline. Elsewhere, a van – Anglo-Italian marble installation – is delivering bespoke marble, granite, limestone and porcelain tiles. Gardeners arrive in a van marked Siddeley landscape design (a company that also appears to work on mammoth private estates in China and Russia). British Security Technologies is parked outside another mansion, its van promising in italic lettering: “We’ll Keep You Safe ‘n’ Sound Tonight.” A vehicle drives up to provide swimming pool and whirlpool maintenance. There is also a fire-protection services van, an emergency plumbing car and Rentokil pest control – because, it seems, money offers no real protection against fire, rats and plumbing catastrophes.’
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March 12, 2014
[london] Oh shit, say tube drivers … The Daily Mash on the death of Bob Crow… ‘Martin Bishop, a driver from Peckham, said: “I would very much like the RMT to advertise – immediately – for a New Person to Scare the Shit Out of Capitalists. “However, I suspect it may now be time for me to drive a taxi.”’
[london] Highgate Vampire … fascinating story of the creation of a urban-legend in 1970s … ‘The Hampstead and Highgate Express reported [Seán Manchester] on 27 February 1970 as saying that he believed that ‘a King Vampire of the Undead’, a medieval nobleman who had practised black magic in medieval Wallachia (Romania), had been brought to England in a coffin in the early eighteenth century, by followers who bought a house for him in the West End. He was buried on the site that later became Highgate Cemetery, and Manchester claimed that modern Satanists had roused him. He said the right thing to do would be to stake the vampire’s body, and then behead and burn it, but this would nowadays be illegal. The paper headlined this: ‘Does a Vampyr walk in Highgate?’ Manchester later claimed, however, that the reference to ‘a King Vampire from Wallachia’ was a journalistic embellishment. Nevertheless, the 1985 edition of his book also speaks of an unnamed nobleman’s body brought to Highgate in a coffin from somewhere in Europe. In his interview of 27 February, Manchester offered no evidence in support of his theory.’
[london] 150 great things about the Underground … a blog celebrating 150 years of the London Underground … ‘On 10 January 2013, the London Underground will be 150 years old. This blog is a personal catalogue, in no particular order, of some of the network’s finest features, sensations and oddities. Think of it as a well-meaning doff of a roundel-sized hat…’
[london] Shit London … ‘These are photographs of the unintentional human comedy that surround us in the city. It’s the flotsam and jetsam of city life , the overlooked minutiae , the tragic , the grotesque and the basest of base. It’s the adapted posters , the dirty joke on the back of a van , the mispelt signs , the glory hole in the public loo , that weird shop down the end of your road and the knob graffiti strategically placed for maximum effect.’
[london] How Far Can You Walk From Trafalgar Square Without Crossing A Road? … Vic Keegan does some extreme walking … ‘A couple of years ago, as a test of the walkability of London, I set out from Trafalgar Square — the official centre of the town — one Sunday morning to see how far I could get without crossing a road or going over the same place twice. It was almost 17 miles before I ended up going round in a circle. I know of no other capital city where it is possible to do this…’
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[london] Bollards of London … a taxi-driver blogs the ancient and not-so ancient pavement bollards of London … ‘Bollards have a history richer than most objects placed upon the pavement and we can easily find some dating back to the earlier part of the 19th Century.’ [via As Above]
[london] A Look at What’s Happening at Tottenham Court Road … a fascinating post describing the work along with many photos …‘A drastic reworking of the station’s sub-surface layout has long been needed and it is this that is now underway. By 2016 the station will have a completely new ticket hall, new access tunnels, lift shafts and escalators. It will also connect through to the new Crossrail Tottenham Court Road. It is a project this is proving a unique challenge.
[history] The London Pedestrian Crossing of Doom … the place where one man’s thoughts later caused the deaths of a quarter of a million Japanese citizens …‘We’re on the corner of Southampton Row and Russell Square in leafy Bloomsbury. There’s no plaque to mark the event but this is the unlikely spot where the nuclear chain reaction was first conceived.’
[politics] Bob Crow: ‘I couldn’t care less if we had a million strikes’ … interesting interview with the leader of the RMT Union …‘Since he took charge in 2002 the RMT’s membership has grown from 54,000 to 80,000, and has enjoyed substantial annual pay rises, improved conditions, and even the reopening of a final salary pension scheme. “The Evening Standard had it right, it said I was ‘obsessed’ with improving my members’ living standards. Dead right, I actually get pleasure when I see one of my members get a pay rise. That’s another one we’ve had over them. Yeah, I admit to that.” And they get it, according to Crow, because unlike most modern unions they are willing to strike.’ [via @LDN]
[food] Food Bloggers visit an Aberdeen Angus Steak House … ‘Foul, expensive food, served incompetently in dreadful surroundings, Aberdeen Angus is a restaurant with no redeeming features. But then I imagine most of you suspected that already; the really nasty surprise on Friday was just how bad, not just passively mediocre but actively wicked their modus operandi is, and just how successful they are at exploiting naive tourists…’
[london] 2009 in Evening Standard headlines … Samizdata.net on the Evening Standard’s 2009 Headline Boards … ‘At first the guys giving it away carried on with the billboards, but I knew that this practice would soon fade away. If no money is being made in the street from these newspapers, why go to all the bother of advertising them in the street. So it is that if you click on the last picture of all, you see that where there used to be informatively alarming stories about doom and disaster, now there are only forlorn signs saying that the ES now costs nothing.’ [thanks Phil]
[conspiracy] Unmasking the Mysterious 7/7 Conspiracy Theorist … BBC News on a supposedly pursuasive conspiracy theory about London’s 7/7 bombings … ‘In the absence of a public inquiry into the 7 July bombings, conspiracy theories have filled the vacuum. One of the more inflammatory involves a man hiding behind an Arabic-sounding pseudonym taken from a sci-fi film starring Sting. […] The 56-minute homemade documentary opens with a view from space and the words: “A message from Muad Dib”.’
[books] Revolutionary Espresso Book Machine launches in London ‘…at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road branch in London, the machine prints and binds books on demand in five minutes, while customers wait. Signalling the end, says Blackwell, to the frustration of being told by a bookseller that a title is out of print, or not in stock, the Espresso offers access to almost half a million books, from a facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland to Mrs Beeton’s Book of Needlework.’
[press] Diamond Geezer on the New Evening Standard ‘…to underline the paper’s new upbeat stance, a full page feature on inspirational pupils in the “poor borough” of Dagenham. I skimmed over it to be honest, because good news rarely sells, but it was encouraging to observe the paper looking optimistically eastward for once.Not so hot on pages 6 and 7, however. A full page advert for Fendi handbags opposite articles on Mayfair dining, Harvey Nicks and tax-whingeing financiers. Don’t care, not listening.’
[war] Rocket Strikes I Am Near … type in a London postcode and get a list of V2 rockets strikes in that area. Londonist: ‘V-2 explosions devastated Selfridges, Speakers’ Corner and Holborn. That isolated Caffe Nero near the mural on Tottenham Court Road stands on the still-undeveloped site of a blast that killed nine.’
[london] A Hierarchy Of Tubes … an interesting personal ranking of the reliability of the various tube lines on the London Underground … ‘As every Londoner knows, all tube lines were not created equal. There’s a definite ranking of the lines you’d like to have to use, and those you’d like to avoid. So here’s my own, totally unscientific (yet, I hope, reasonable) list of lines in order of usefulness.’