Policeman’s Hook

This hook near the Verve Bar was put here in the 1930s. Prior to that, a simple nail was used for hanging coats by police directing traffic at this busy junction. During redecoration works, the importance of the nail was pointed out by a passing policeman to a surveyor and this elegant hook appeared.

Great Newport Street WC2
Tube: Leicester Square

Blue Police Lamp

These lamps – such as this old survivor at Territorial Police Headquarters – appeared in 1861. The only exception is Bow Street. To spare Queen Victoria,  whenever she visited the Royal Opera House, seeing a reminder of the blue room in which Prince Albert died, Bow Street had a white lamp.

Victoria Embankment SW1
Tube: Westminster

Thanks to PAUL CONNELL & DAVE ALLEN for updating this entry

The first drinking fountain, the place from which convicts were transported to Australia or a  policeman’s coat hook – there is always something of interest to see in London. If all else fails, just look down at your feet and see if you’re standing on a coal hole.

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Street Furniture 1 2

Camel Benches

Continuing a theme originating with Cleopatra’s Needle, the 21m-tall obelisk on the Thames, benches along the Embankment are supported by Egyptian Sphinxes. At the end, kneeling camels take over the burden. Some trivia: from 1450 BC, the Needle is the oldest structure in London.

Victoria Embankment WC2
Tube: Westminster/Blackfriars

Millbank Buttress

‘Near this site stood Millbank Prison which was opened in 1816 and closed in 1890. This buttress stood at the head of the river steps from which, until 1867, prisoners sentenced to transportation embarked on their journey to Australia.’  The nearby Morpeth Arms pub was built to serve the prison warders.

Millbank SW1
Tube: Pimlico

First Drinking Fountain

In 1859, The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Association was set up by Samuel Gurney MP to offer free water and thus discourage alcohol – the only source of sterile drink for many. This first one – like many – was set up opposite a pub.  Set into the railings of St Sepulchre’s Church, it still retains two cups on a chain.

Giltspur Street EC1
Tube: St Paul’s

Cattle Trough

The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Association became The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association in 1867 when it started offering cattle troughs. Livestock was still arriving on foot to market, quite apart from the amount of horse traffic, so there was a real animal welfare need.

London Wall and elsewhere
Tube: Barbican

Cannon Bollards

You may have noticed that many bollards in London take the shape of old cannon. This is because old guns were actually used at one time for the purpose, their muzzle stopped with a cannon ball.  These four, at the old gate to the Royal Victoria Victualling Yards, Rotherhithe, are some of the few originals standing.

Grove Street SE8
Rail: Deptford

Torch Snuffer

Like over-large versions of those for candles, these extinguishers for torches are fairly common in older, upmarket areas of London. In the days before street-lighting, the rich would employ a torch-bearer or two – called ‘linkmen’ – to light their way, acting as bodyguards at the same time.

Charles Street W1
Tube: Green Park