London is my city and despite the delayed trains and miserable weather I’m proud to call myself a Londoner. I also pride myself on knowing some of the city’s secrets. Takes these as writing prompts or just enjoy their existence.
1.The Bermonsey Tank
I went to University a five minutes walk away from the tank but it took me two years to discover it. There is a Russian World War Two tank within driving distance (should it be within rolling distance?) of central London. The story goes that the man who owned the plot of land between Mandela Way and Pages Walk, where the tank is located, was having a feud with the local council. He asked permission to place a “tank” on the plot of land. The council, believing it to be a water tank, agreed. The tank was brought from a film set and was placed on the land with the cannon aimed at the council offices. Now the tank is used by the local artisans college. During the World War One remembrance day it was painted as a red poppy, it has also taken the colour of a yellow New York cab and bright pink for Breast Cancer Awareness.
2. Rivers of London
I’ve explored parts of subterranean London before in the form of Aldwich tube station. The rivers are another factor of this underground world. Several rivers criss-cross under the metropolis surfacing in strange locations. For example the River Westborne is carried above Sloane Square Tube Station by an iron bridge as seen below.
The most famous underground river is The Fleet Street River which runs into the Thames. There was a rumour several years ago of a house in London that had a river running through its basement. When experts came to examine it they concluded that the water wasn’t from a previously charted river but an unknown source. Speaking of strange houses…
3. 23-24 Leinster Gardens
What’s wrong with this picture?
You are looking at numbers 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens. Take a close look at the windows. They’re painted on. It isn’t a real house, the purpose of the building is to hide this…
To conceal a section of track on the Metropolitan and District Line. When these lines first opened the trains were hauled by steam engines. This created a problem. Where would the smoke and steam go when the trains were underground? The answer was to have the track surface at certain points so the engines could unleash their smoke. Many people thought this would not be a pretty sight so when the houses were knocked down for the line to be built the front of numbers 23 – 24 Leinster Gardens remained.
4. London Necropolis Railway
The Necropolis Railway was opened in 1854. At the time London was experiencing an overpopulation problem and the railways purpose was to transport the deceased from London to Brookwood Cemetery, a cemetery so large it would be able to accommodate the dead for the next one hundred years. Essentially it was a funeral railway. The company suffered from lack of business, the track was bombed in the Second World War and never rebuilt. The only part of the railway that remains is the entrance on Westminster Bridge Road.
5. The London Post Office Railway
The London Post Office Railway is a secret railway that ran from Paddington to Whitechapel. The purpose was to move post between sorting offices in driverless trains but by 2003 it more cost effective to use road transport. The railway was rediscovered by urban explorers (people who explore undiscovered or hidden sections in cities) who reported that the line was in good condition and there are talks of making the railway open to the public in the near future.
Which one of these secrets do you find the most fascinating? Do you know anymore London secrets? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you next time.