Most people think they know London pretty well. It’s arguably the most well-known and instantly recognisable city on the planet, with its red buses and vintage phone boxes on every street corner, but London can be a pretty secretive place too! If someone tells you they’ve ‘done’ London, seen all the sights and done all there is to do: then you’ve met a liar. Here are seven of the more unknown facts about London to test your knowledge. Did you know any of these before?
1. The Leaning Tower of London?
Though not quite as obvious as its friend in Pisa, Big Ben has started to tilt to one side, albeit only by about 0.25 degrees.
Because of years of underground excavating for car parking, sewers and the Jubilee Line of the London Underground, scientists agree that if left untended this famous British icon will eventually topple into the Thames or, perhaps for the better depending on what you think of them, directly onto the MPs as they sit in the House of Commons.
2.The great Cockney humour
If you’re new to London, you’ll probably find Cockneys (people born and raised in London) to be friendly with a great sense of humour, if incredibly difficult to comprehend at first. Interestingly, the term cockney actually began as quite an insult, and the term can be traced back as far as the 14th century. Then it became a word used for those born within earshot of the Bow Bells, whereas today it refers to any general Londoner, if there is such a thing.
3. Tour a disused Underground station
There are several ghost stations on the London Underground that are no longer used. Nowadays you can even go on tours around some of them with official guides, though in recent years certain groups of people have been known to sneak down at the dead of night and share pictures of the forgotten stations online.
4. Great Fire of London?
Vast swathes of the city were wiped out in a blaze that lasted four whole days in September 1666. Interestingly, the fire was started in just one bakery, but the compact buildings built from dry timber allowed the fire to get hold very quickly. What’s quite astonishing when you think about it is that only six people were killed. Though many were made homeless, it seems a miracle that more people weren’t hurt, considering the fire wiped out most of what is now central London!
5. Underground shelter
You think the Tube is busy now? During the Second World War, it’s thought around 150,000 people sheltered in the Underground stations each and every night at the height of the Blitz.
6. Lost property
Speaking of the Tube, it may surprise you to know that each year approximately 80,000 umbrellas are left on trains and handed to the lost property department. What are people thinking? With as much rain as there is in London, hold onto your umbrellas, people!
7. Simply the best!
It’s one of the best cities in the world! There’s no official source to back up this last point, so maybe you should just go and find out if I’m right!