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Cabbies - so you think you have the knowledge ???
on 30 July 2006
As a London Cabbie I pride myself on the knowledge I have not only of routes through and around London, but also the many interesting and different places hidden away or just not thought about as we pass along the busy thoroughfares of London. I think that the cabbies will like this one.
This is a book about London and its peculiar architecture, which we pass everyday in the cab without so much as a second glance. One hundred buildings are identified as being the strangest and enigmatic. The introduction describes London as lacking an urban masterplan and is shown in contrast to Nazi Berlin, Paris or even Babylon. London's chief glory lies not in the theatrical effect of triumphant avenues aligned along carefully drafted axes, or meticulously planned grid of street and square, but rather in its many historic and often highly individual buildings.So the introduction goes.
The book is full of excellent black and white photographs, that show the buildings in a light, which could not be done justice in colour strange as though they might seem. With each photograph most of which are full page, the author gives a brief pen portrait of each location, which includes a history.
The book has ten chapters and each section deals with a specific aspect of architecture. For example, in the first chapter entitled "Tudor Manor Born" the author introduces Abbot's House, Deans Yard, Westminster moving on to Albany and Piccadilly. Crosby Hall features and once we have read through the text we discover that Crosby Hall was moved brick by brick from the City to its current site in Chelsea in 1908. You will pass it on Cheyne Walk just after Danvers Street. There always seems to be something going on there and it looks as though the builders will be there for a while longer.
Not only does the book describe and illustrate interesting buildings within central London, the author also brings to our attention many other buildings which we might only know about if we lived in a particular locality. For example Severndroog Castle? Who? you might say. This is located in Castlewood Park, SE18. Many of us cabbies who did the knowledge will probably have seen the tower at Clock Tower Place N7. The story associated with this tower is that after several hundred years of cattle slaughter in the city it was decided to transfer the trading of livestock to Islington. The story goes that this market attracted the ne'er do wells and there was a large illegitimate trade attached to the market with thieves running alive. After the war it was knocked down for development and the more legitimate traders moved to Bermondsey. Hence the New Caledonian Market, which still exists today in Bermondsey Street by Long Lane.
There are many other illustrations and descriptions and the book would be an interesting addition to the bookshelves of those cab drivers who are interested in the aspects of London presented here. Most enjoyable and worth the purchase.