10 things you didn’t know about London – Part 1

A view of the clock on Big Ben, LondonWhen it comes to London, there will be hundreds of things you – and the majority of people – will know.

Things such as London being the capital city of England, where Buckingham Palace and Big Ben are and being a city that’s packed full of history. All three of these are great examples of things that a lot of people are already aware of, regardless of where they are from.

But there are also numerous facts that many people simply don’t know.  For example, did you know that Big Ben isn’t actually a tower?  It is the bell inside that is named Big Ben – the tower itself is called the ‘Elizabeth Tower’.

Now that is a fact that not many people will know, whether they are from London or not – and here are five more things about London you didn’t already know, but which are extremely interesting.

1.  The City of London

The City of London is actually one of the smallest cities in the UK, with approximately 8,000 residents; when you add Greater London to this, though, that is when it becomes huge!

The administrative district of Greater London, whilst not technically a city, has around 8.5 million people residing there.  This means you could fit four New Yorks into the area of Greater London and the City of London, and almost 50 of Paris.

2.  No ‘roads’ in London

Until 1994, there were no ‘roads’ in the City of London, and even now, there is only one – Goswell Road, which became part of the Square Mile in 1994 after boundary changes.

There are plenty of ‘streets’, ‘ways’ and ‘lanes’, but public paths weren’t generally referred to as roads until the 16th century, well after London was established.

3.  Abandoned Tube stations

There are several abandoned Tube stations around London, many of which are used for filming scenes or even hosting private parties.

These Tube stations include Strand, which was shut down in 1994; Down Street, which was closed in 1932, and Brompton Road, closed in 1934.

Mark Lane used to be a part of Tower Hill Tube station, but is now shut down.

4.  The Knowledge

To pass The Knowledge – the insanely difficult London geography test required by all Black Cab drivers in the city – you must master 320 basic routes.

Does that sound hard enough?  Well on top of that, you must know the 25,000 streets that are involved with those routes, as well as 20,000 landmarks and places of interest within a 6-mile radius of Charing Cross.

It is known to take between two and four years to get to that level of knowledge of London.

5.  Houses of Parliament

Did you know that these are officially known as the Palace of Westminster, and that it is the largest palace in the UK?

The Palace has eight bars, six restaurants, 1,000 rooms, 100 staircases, 11 courtyards, a hair salon and a rifle shooting range.

Interestingly, it is also illegal to die in the Palace of Westminster.

This is part one of a two-part blog post based on ten things that you probably didn’t know about London.

Make sure you don’t miss the next five facts about London we give you, which we will publish in the coming weeks (now available here) – and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay updated!