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All Aboard the Mail Rail!

Posted by fairbankguy on 4th October 2017 in Automotive | mail-rail,post-office,royal-mail,underground
The Mail Rail once transported letters and parcels from Paddington Station to as far as the Tower of London. When it closed in 2003 after more than 75 years’ service the post Office were stuck with what to do with it. Ideas varied from converting it to a subterranean cycle lane to creating an extensive mushroom farm. But then they thought: why not open it to the public?  London’s newest attraction opened in 3 years ago and has already proved popular. Discovering a part of hidden London is always exciting and this journey under the streets of London is no exception. You travel about 1.6km along the tracks, at no great speed but enough for younge...
 

A Place of Peace

Posted by fairbankguy on 20th November 2015 in History | talbot house,tubby clayton,ww1,world war one,all hallows by the tower,poperinge,flanders field
  In 1915 a young army chaplain, Philip ‘Tubby’ Clayton (1885-1972) opened the Everyman’s Club at Talbot House, in the small Belgian town of Poperinge. The club was situated close to Ypres but was a world away from the horrors of the front line. Instead, soldiers found an oasis of peace and tranquillity, where they could, for a short time, forget about the war. Talbot House was named in memory of Lt. Gilbert Talbot, the brother of Padre Neville Talbot. Soldiers called it Toc H, the army signallers’ code for TH. Formally owned by a brewer who had fled the war, it needed complete refurnishing. Gifts, including 2 pianos, hundreds of books - e...
 

A whiff of Bauhaus

Posted by fairbankguy on 26th June 2017 in Arts | bauhaus,cannon-street,gropius,nii-haw,vitrolite
The City of London is not well-known for its 1930s buildings. Between the Daily Express and Daily Telegraph buildings on Fleet Street, the impressive Ibex House in the Minories and the delightful Fox Fine Wines shop in Moorgate (formerly the Fox umbrella shop) you could be stumped trying to think of any more modernist monuments within the Square Mile. Walk out of Cannon Street Station, however, and look for the small Nii Haw sushi bar straight ahead of you. Before it fed local office workers with dim sum this cute and curvaceous outlet was a branch of TM Lewin. But 80 years ago 115 Cannon Street - to give its correct address - was the Mortimer Gall...
 

The Senate and Students of London

Posted by fairbankguy on 25th November 2017 in Higher Education | art-deco,senate-house,ww2
  Dominating the leafy and literary area of Bloomsbury is the monumental Senate House. It’s part of the University of London and was built in the 1930s by that great architect of the London Underground, Charles Holden. It was built on land given by the Dukes of Bedford and funded by, amongst others, the Rockefeller family, Marks and Spencer and City livery companies. The shell of the building was made from steel, encased by hardy Portland stone, which has remarkable anti-pollution qualities: it’s only been cleaned twice in its 80 years. When it was completed in 1937 the Senate House was the tallest building (64m high) after St Paul’s an...
 

Take your Pyx

Posted by fairbankguy on 3rd February 2016 in History | goldsmiths,trial of the pyx,coinage,assay office,remembrancer
The Trial of the Pyx is an ancient ceremony that dates back to the 13th century. Its purpose is to check that all UK coinage produced at The Royal Mint is of sufficient weight and composition. The name ‘pyx’ refers to the boxes in which the coins are carried and comes form the Pyx chamber in Westminster Abbey, where important artefacts were housed. We believe there was some quality control in early medieval times but it was in the reign of Henry II (1154-89) that regular tests took place By the mid-13th century the Trial had begun to take the form we know today. Early trials were first held in Westminster until 1580, when Elizabeth I decree...
 

Power Bridge

Posted by fairbankguy on 17th May 2016 in History | Tower Bridge,horace jones,bascule,london bridges,river thames
  Tower Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in the world, and behind its iconic structure lies an amazing story. In the late 19th century London had grown to a city of 6 million, with a third of them living in the East End. To cross the river was a real problem - it still is - with the building of a foot tunnel by the Tower of London wholly inadequate. To solve the problem a competition was launched to design a bridge that had a clearance of 9 metres, so masted ships could pass beneath it and reach the Pool of London . The winners were Sir Horace Jones (who happened to be on the selection committee) and Sir John Wolfe Barry, son of Sir Charle...
 
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