5 unusual urban details London

CABMEN’S SHELTERS

Thirteen of these distinctive green sheds are scattered around London’s streets. They are survivals from a programme begun in 1875 to provide (horse-drawn) hansom cab drivers with shelter and food and drink. They still service taxi drivers today, providing a place for a cup of tea and a chat. The public can purchase good value refreshments from a hatch, but not enter the shelters. One can be found outside the V&A’s main entrance.

Cabman's Shelters - © Sam Mellish
Cabman's Shelters - © Sam Mellish

GIRO’S GRAVE

Waterloo Place
(near 9 Carlton House
Terrace)
SW1Y
Covent Garden

A small tombstone under a tree marks the spot where Dr Leopold von Hoesch’s Alsatian was buried in 1934. ‘Ein Treuer Begleiter’ reads the inscription – a true companion. Hoesch was German Ambassador during the last days of the Weimar Republic and the beginning of the Nazi administration. This has unfairly earned poor Giro, who suffered death by accidental electrocution, the sobriquet ‘the Nazi Dog.’

MARK WALLINGER’S LABYRINTH

British artist Mark Wallinger was commissioned by the London Underground to complete a major new work celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2013. Wallinger’s Labyrinth consists of 270 unique pieces, one for each tube station. The complex labyrinthine black and white circular designs are an analogy for journeys through the underground system.

JOHN SNOW MEMORIAL

Broadwick St
W1F 9QJ
Soho

A memorial in the form of a water pump stands in Broadwick Street to commemorate the work of John Snow, close to the pub that bears his name. Snow traced an 1854 outbreak of cholera to its source at a public water pump on this street. His ground-breaking findings inspired fundamental changes to water and waste systems, and improved public health across the world.

ELY PLACE

EC1N 6RY
Clerkenwell

Ely Place is a living anachronism from medieval times, a small cul-de-sac that’s technically a part of the rural county of Cambridgeshire. This administrative enclave began when the Bishops of Ely settled here in 1290. It remains the last privately owned street in London, which police need permission to enter. Ely Place is home historic St Etheldreda’s Church.

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The 500 Hidden Secrets of London