Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Trains and Boats and… well, More Boats

That firm friend of the LW Blog, Roger files this post just a few days ahead of his next bunberry. (Roger, to any newbies out there, is a member of the Inland Waterways Association and London Walks’ Vasco da Gama of the towpath on the epic Regent’s Canal London Walks.)

“King’s Cross Station,” says leading Regent’s Canal expert Roger, shifting his focus momentarily from water to rail, "is one of the ‘Cathedrals of Steam’. It provides a dramatic backdrop to many a movie (see our earlier post on the Alec Guinness classic The Ladykillers HERE) including the Harry Potter series. Indeed, Harry Potter adds mystery to mystery, here – which actual part of the station can now be seen only in a Harry Potter film?” (Well you can email us the answer if you like or join Roger this Sunday: I’m sure he’ll tell you! Ed)

It was only, however, only going to be a moment before Roger got back on track – by which, of course, we mean off the track and back on to the Regent’s Canal. He goes on:

“Ten minutes’ walk away, the London Canal Museum is a delightful window into a different world. A superb collection of displays, exhibits and old films is housed in the building of a former customer of the Canal – and the building itself has quite a story to tell.

At Camley Street Wildlife Garden, a small wood with a pond is the result of careful planting, and hundreds of species now live here. Next, a gothic tower – with water on two sides and a sheer drop on a third side, this could pass for a small fort. So what’s it doing here?

Walking over one of London’s lost rivers is just one of the aspects which lies ahead, so come and find out more.”

The Regent’s Canal – King’s Cross to Old Camden Town Walk meets at King’s Cross station taxi rank on Sunday 2nd August at 2.30 p.m.

(P.S. Don’t forget Ann’s Foodie Walk this Saturday! Scroll down or click HERE.)

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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

A London List: Lord Hore-Belisha & Zebra Crossings

1. The flashing orange globes atop black and white poles that herald zebra crossings are called Belisha beacons – named for Leslie Hore-Belisha (1893-1957), later Lord Hore-Belisha, who served as Minister for Transport from 1934 – 1937.

2. In his capacity as Transport Minister under both Ramsay Macdonald and Stanley Baldwin, Leslie Hore-Belisha also implemented the UK driving test.

3. Lord Hore-Belisha’s Blue Plaque can be found at 16 Stafford Place, SW1 in the borough of Westminster.

4. Rule 194 of the Highway Code states that drivers must: “Allow pedestrians plenty of time to cross and do not harass them by revving your engine or edging forward.”

5. The World's most famous zebra crossing is at Abbey Road, NW8 – you can visit it on the London Walks Beatles tours in the company of Beatle expert and London Walks guide Richard Porter

(P.S: For those of you who spent the years between 1953 and the 1980s outside the UK, the Tufty Club – that’s the membership badge in our pic – was an organisation dedicated to teaching road safety to children. All London Walks Guides are fully-paid-up members.)


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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Monday, 27 July 2009

On this Day in London History…

27th July 1694… A Royal Charter is granted to the Bank of England. Founded by William Paterson (a Scot), The Bank has been located on Threadneedle Street in The City since 1734 giving rise to its nickname The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street. A model for many of the world’s central banks, the Bank of England enjoys a monopoly on the issue of currency in England and Wales (see the now defunct Ten Shilling – or Ten Bob – note, above.)

On the topic of English banknotes, in Cockney rhyming slang a Lady Godiva is a five pound note (Lady Godiva = Fiver). The older London slang terms for £500 (a “Monkey”) and £25 (a “Pony”) have been baffling lexicographers since the 19th Century. If anyone out there in Blogland thinks they can provide any answers to the origins of Monkey and Pony as slang terms for money, please feel free to email us your theories and suggestions.

In the meantime, see the current home of The Bank of England this (and every) Sunday at 10.30 a.m in the company of Graham on The Famous Square Mile Walk. Meet him at Monument tube (Fish Street Hill exit).

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Sunday, 26 July 2009

The Weekly Gallimaufry 26:07:09

Tales From the Walking Week

The OTHER Festival in August

The Edinburgh Festival: thousands of shows, several of which are good: of the several good ones, all of those are sold out. Stay in London. We’ve got our own festival this and every August. Here are a few highlights:

Ann’s at it once more. Her Foodies’ London: The West End rides again this Saturday 1st August meeting at Green Park Station (Ritz exit). Scroll down for her latest LW Blog post – and click HERE for a new section of the London Walks website dedicated entirely to Ann’s much-loved Foodie Walks…

It’s now 62-years since Sgt Pepper taught the band to play (do the math) – and it’s 40 years since that colourful Non-Commissioned Officer’s close chums The Beatles marched across the zebra crossing at Abbey Road for the shot that would become one of their most iconic album sleeves. Richard P is on the case: celebrate with him on 8th August on his special Abbey Road 40th Anniversary Walk

On 15th August Richard IV is taking steps to reveal the London of Alfred Hitchcock. Our resident Sherlock Holmes expert is also a movie buff extraordinaire, so get this one in the diary – Facebook Group members keep an eye on your inboxes for your special invitations…

Way down south, Adam is staging a one-man Olympic Games of a walk in Crystal Palace Park, taking in, as it does, cricket, football, rugby, cycling and motor-racing not to mention track and field athletics. Walk on parts will be granted to Winston Churchill, John Logie Baird, Anas Platyrhynchos (that’s the Sunday name of the plain old moorhen) and a Diplodocus. Huh? All will be revealed on 23rd August.

Click HERE for the full programme of From the Repertoire Walks. See also the In August page of The Mothership HERE.

(P.S. Only kidding, Edinburgh! ☺ )

Sunday on the Heath With George

Last Sunday, London Walks guide Adam was filling in for David (who was on sabbatical), taking care of the Hampstead Walk. Adam takes up the tale…

“Outside St Mary’s, Hampstead I was detailing a little of the history of the church, explaining that the Religious Freedom Act of 1829 (180 years ago last April) allowed for such a church to stand here and that we had followed in the footsteps of General de Gaulle who celebrated mass here when he was resident in Hampstead.

At which point the Parish Priest emerged from behind the church door. ‘You forgot to mention,’ he smiled, ‘that Graham Greene was married here.’

And I had. So thanks to the Parish Priest at St Mary’s Hampstead – and to all the other London souls who, from time-to-time, take a moment to colour our London Walks.”

(The illustration above is from St Mary’s R.C Church website.)

Keep in Touch

You can now keep in touch with London Walks with Bebo, MySpace and Facebook, as well as here at the LW Blog and The Mothership ( – not forgetting our films on You Tube.

Sign up for regular updates to the LW Blog, delivered direct to your inbox, by entering your email address at the top of the page (top right-hand column).

Not only do we want you to hear from us: we want to hear from you, too. Send us your pics, your poems, your London musings and thoughts to the usual address

And if you like what you read and want others to read it too, click on our new toy, the Share It icon at the bottom of each post, courtesy of the good people at (Icons pictured thanks to

H2OxNW1 4 V.G LW *

Definition time…

epic |ˌɛpɪk|

a long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the history of a nation.
• a film, book, or other work portraying heroic deeds and adventures or covering an extended period of time
• heroic or grand in scale or character : “his epic journey around the world” | “a tragedy of epic proportions”.

ORIGIN late 16th cent.(as an adjective): via Latin from Greek epikos, from epos ‘word, song,’ related to eipein ‘say.’

Which pretty much covers Roger’s Regent’s Canal odyssey, which continues this Tuesday 28th July covering ground from Little Venice to Old Camden.

Over to Roger

“Little Venice needs no introduction. Home of poets, actors and film stars – and itself a film location. A beautiful area, with the Regent’s Canal as its centre-piece.

On to an extravagant piece of Victoriana called ‘Crocker’s Folly’ – how did it get this name? (Sounds like a cop show: Ed.)

Decimus Burton’s success in laying out London Zoo has paved the way for many pieces of award-winning architecture since. For instance, Lord Snowdon’s Aviary still looks a good home for exotic birds.

A floating Chinese Restaurant adds a colourful oriental touch to the Canal. As it is obviously much bigger than anything else on the canal, it also adds a touch of mystery. How did it float here?

And there’s much more – so come and explore.”

Join Roger on the Regent’s Canal – Little Venice to Old Camden Town Walk, meeting at Warwick Avenue tube station this Tuesday (28th July) at 6.30 p.m.

(* H2OxNW1 4 V.G LW = Water by Camden makes for a Very Good London Walk. Our first LW Blog attempt at Text-ese in preparation for our launch on Twitter, perhaps? We’ll get better at it, honest! Ed.)

(Roger is a member of the The Inland Waterways Association, a voluntary organization which campaigns for better use of and improvements to the Waterways.)

Trooping the OTHER Colours

That Karen and that David: they’ve been a-hiding in corners again and whispering. And they’ve come up with another one of their Pomp & Circumstance Walks. Last month, the ancient rites of the Worshipful Company of Vintners – one of The City’s oldest established institutions – formed the centrepiece of a unique London Walk. Well, they’re at it again – with the Worshipful Company of Painters and Stainers (that's their coat of arms above) taking centrestage this October when one of their ancient ceremonies forms the hub for the Pomp & Circumstance Walk No.2. You’ve done the Trooping of the Colour, the Ceremony of the Keys and the Changing of the Guard: the Pomp & Circumstance walks unveil the hidden gems of pageantry-mad London. Click HERE to read about last month’s Vintners walk and keep an eye on the LW Blog, and Facebook for full details and invitations nearer the time.

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Saturday, 25 July 2009

Spectator at the Feast

It’s one of the most fascinating walks in the repertoire: there’s nothing quite like it in all of London. No less an authority than Noel at the London Walks office rates it very highly indeed. And he’s a hard one to please. It is, of course, Ann’s extravaganza Foodies' London: The West End London Walk. And here’s your guide with one of her fascinating insights into the high tables of the great and good…

“Wondering what to cook this weekend? Seek inspiration from the menu ordered for the Wives’ Lunch by Silvio Berlusconi at the recent G8 conference – translated with help from my Italian neighbour. They were treated to:

• Two sorts of bread, one made with grain from the high mountains, the other with flour popular in the 1950’s.

• Ice cream with sweet beans and crispy local bacon

• Salt cod marinated in olive oil, with crushed potatoes and roasted peppers

• Raviolo of pea puree with basil, tomatoes and pecorino cheese

• Veal with crunchy woodland vegetables and warm potato salad

• Chocolate fondant with fennel

(You will notice that beetroot, essential ingredient these days for grand British dinners, has not made it on to the lunch menu.)

Find out what other grand menus have been served in the past by joining my Foodies’ London: The West End London Walk on Saturday, August 1, 10.45 am at Green Park tube, Ritz exit.”

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Friday, 24 July 2009

Extra Blog Extra (or… And Did Those Feet Yeah Yeah Yeah)

A busy day here at the LW Blogtwo extra posts today! Scroll down for our Bebo news from earlier… and here's the Big One Beatle maniacs have been waiting for…

Richard P, The Don of Beatlemania, is treading in some illustrious footsteps this August 8th.

Here they are…

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the photo shoot for the iconic cover of the Abbey Road album (the last work they recorded as a foursome) he’s conducting an extra special walk.

Go to for time and place details – and get yourselves back here over the next couple of weeks for Beatle trivia galore as we join in Richard’s celebrations. (Facebook Group Members – keep an eye out for your special invitations!)

(The pic above is a detail from the Abbey Road sleeve – a newly re-mastered and re-packaged version of which will be released – with new extra features – on 9th September 2009. Or 09:09:09… 9 being, as all Beatle People know, John Lennon’s lucky number,)

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Blog Extra (or… We’re on Bebo!)

Keep up with London Walks on Bebo… click HERE

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Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The London Stone(s)

A few words from London Walks kingpin Shaughan

“As I was leading the Hidden London tour last Friday, I stopped on Cannon Street and talked about The London Stone – an ancient lump of rock dating from Roman times enshrined in an office building. I spoke about its legendary qualities, and how people in the Middle Ages would come and touch it, believing it would grant good fortune to them. My group listened and took photos of the stone, and we crossed the street and walked away. When the last London Walks pilgrim had left the sacred niche, a construction worker who had overheard my talk, ran to the stone and hit it with his hand! Such is the power of the Stone (and London Walks!).”

And on the topic of London Stones, Adam’s been digging in the archives…

On this day in London History… 22nd July 1965. Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman and Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones were found guilty and fined £5 each for “insulting behaviour” in the forecourt of the Francis Service Station in the Romford Road, Forest Gate, East London. Having been refused use of the washroom at said service station on the way back from a gig in Romford, Essex, the three Stones proceeded to relieve themselves against a wall in the forecourt. Enter the Rozzers (that’s East End slang for the police) – the start of a not-so beautiful friendship between the Stones and the boys in blue.

The Magistrates’ Chairman at West Ham Magistrates Court told the Stones (making their debut before the British legal profession): “Because you have reached the exalted heights of your profession, it does not mean you have the right to act like this. On the contrary, you should set a standard of behaviour which should be a moral pattern for your large number of supporters. You have been found guilty of behaviour not becoming of young gentlemen.”

Shaughan reveals Hidden London this (and every) Friday at 11.00 a.m meeting at Monument Tube (Fish Street Hill exit). 


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Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Weekly Gallimaufry 19:07:09

Your Guide to the Stars

What’s this? The stars? Astronomy on The Gallimaufry? Not this week (but stay tuned: we’re sure one of the 70-or-so Award-Winning London Walks guides will come up with a post on the London skyscape sooner or later.) This time around we refer to stars less celestial but still dazzling in their own way.

To borrow from Oscar Wilde – “We are all in the gutter (well, near the gutter on the sidewalk to be precise but let’s not quibble: Ed) but some of us are looking at the stars.” Some of us – London Walks guides – get a closer look than others.

In short: when the A-listers want to walk London, they come to London Walks.

Last Friday was a case in point. Dennis Quaid, the Golden Globe-nominated star of such Hollywood movies as The Day After Tomorrow and Far From Heaven booked a private Jack the Ripper tour with our own Nick. Quaid joins a growing list of Hollywood stars to take the road to Whitechapel. Don, the leading expert on the case, acted as guide to Johnny Depp in the run up to that actor’s vivid turn in the 2001 Ripper movie From Hell. Shaughan was the man called upon to take director Quentin Tarantino through the mean streets of Whitechapel in search of a story that would make even one of Tarantino’s movies look like an episode of The Waltons.

(To book your own private tour – be it Jack the Ripper or any one of the hundreds of London Walks on offer at – call Mary, Fiona or Noel at The Mothership. Alternatively, just pitch up at the appointed time and place for the public walk of your choice. We’ll be waiting.)

Grub's up!

Regular LW Blogites will know the drill by now: when the wee man opposite appears (his name is Alphonse and he’s the LW Blog maître d'), it’s time for one of Ann’s food fiestas. She’s hitting the West End on August 1st (10.45a.m at Green Park Tube) and she’s got the low-down on the menu at the recent G8 Conference in Italy. What’s more, she’s promised to tell us all about it on the LW Blog by way of an exclusive preview for her walk. Come back next week when she reveals all. (In the meantime: London Walks Facebook Group members keep an eye out for your Foodies London Walk invitations heading to your Inbox soon.)

Boo! For the Price of One

Adam, The Man in Black, is at the helm of the Ghosts of the Old City Walk once again this Tuesday – and there’s another terrifying special offer in store. Last week, London Walks Facebook Group members walked two-for-the-price-of-one. This week, those LW Blogites who have signed up for regular email updates of the LW Blog can enjoy the same discount (£7 for two people) if they simply bring a printout out the London Walks Blog email featuring The Weekly Gallimaufry 19:07:09 (that’s the one you’re reading now) and bring it with them they can qualify for the discount. (If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so at the top of the page in the right-hand column. Simply enter your email address and you’ll get the LW Blog delivered direct to your Inbox. Keep an eye out for further LW Blog special offers.)

A Stylish New Look

He guides. He writes. He Blogs. He takes photos. He pilots The Mothership (that’s to the uninitiated). And this week he’s found the time (!) to make a few subtle changes to said Mothership. We refer, of course, to David and he hopes his little spot of cyber feng shui will make your visit to the London Walks website just that little bit more user-friendly. Click HERE to see what you think.


At time of writing, the London Walks Facebook Group is teetering on the brink of 100 members, its century – an appropriate metaphor given the gripping events at Lord’s Cricket Ground this past weekend (click HERE for the LW Blog guide to keeping your head above the conversational water when talk turns to cricket this summer).

To be the 100th (or 101st, or 102nd, etc…) Facebook Group member simply click HERE and sign up.

London on the Wireless

If you missed BBC Radio 4’s broadcast of Archive on 4: Soho last Saturday night, then hit the BBC Radio 4 link on the London Links column opposite and you can hear it on the Listen Again function all this week. It’s great prep for Peter G & Richard III’s Soho Pubs Walk every Sunday night. (The sign opposite is from the famous Coach & Horses in Greek Street, one of the Soho pubs featured on the walk.)

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