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Savoy Hotel in London; facts that will surprise you

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From the start, the Savoy Hotel in London had all the comforts of the time: electricity, running and hot water, elevators and rooms with bathrooms. 

The well-known hotel is located on land given by King Henry III to Peter, Count of Savoy in 1264. The latter belonged to the same House of Savoy as the kings of Italy.

Savoy Court just outside the hotel is one of the few places in the UK where you have to drive on the right and not on the left. The reason is that the Savoy Theater is to the right of the hotel and taxis can pass from the hotel to the theater without turning.

During the Second World War the Savoy probably had some of the best bomb shelters in London. Winston Churchill often brought his government here.

There are still 263 en-suite rooms but since 2005 the Savoy belongs to Fairmount Hotels and not to the Savoy Group as it once was Curiosities of the Savoy Hotel in London.

The hotel was opened in 1889 to accommodate American tourists who came to see operettas at the Savoy Theater, another piece was added in 1903-4

The Egyptian prince Fahmy Bey was killed at the Savoy Hotel in London in 1923 by his French wife. She was never convicted because at the trial it was revealed that her husband was cruel to his wife and had threatened to kill her.

The Savoy still houses one of London’s best hotel restaurants, called The Grill Room.

Next to the hotel is Carting Lane where a lamp (you can now see a replica) is said to have been powered by gases from the sewer. It is said that the Savoy’s guests had the lamps lit up. In fact this was only partially true, most of the gas came from the gas pipe and not from the sewer.

The first manager of the Savoy Hotel in London was Cesar Ritz and the first chef Auguste Escoffier, famous for inventing the Peach Melba in honor of the opera singer Nellie Melba.

Worked in many sectors including recruitment and marketing. Lucky to have found a soulmate who was then taken far too soon. No intention of moving on and definitely not moving to Thailand for the foreseeable future. Might move forward. Owned by a cat.

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Travel

London Bridge, its long and interesting history

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London Bridge, London Bridge is falling down, Falling down, falling down, London Bridge is falling down, My Fair Lady.

This refers, to the Old London Bridge, not to be confused with Tower Bridge, the drawbridge.

Americans have the bad habit of confusing Tower Bridge with London Bridge,  try and google London Bridge, look at the images and you will see how many photos of Tower Bridge are in the results. But then again an American asked me once, right near the Tower of London, where the Eiffel Tower was, so confusion reigns.

London Bridge exists even now, but it’s a fairly insignificant bridge. So famous, but the new bridge is a big disappointment for tourists, so they confuse it with Tower Bridge.

There have been many bridges between the City of London and Southwark over the centuries. The current crossing, erected in 1973, is a caisson bridge made of concrete and steel. It replaced a stone arch bridge from the 19th century which replaced a medieval stone construction of years.

The Roman bridges

The Roman founders of the city of Londinium built the first wooden bridge. The current bridge is located 30 metres upstream of the previous alignments. The north and south entrances of the medieval bridge were designated by St Magnus-the-Martyr’s Church and Southwark Cathedral. Until 1729, London Bridge was the only road bridge across the Thames until Kingston.

Internal trade along the Thames and its estuary dates back to about 768 years century BC There is evidence of Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements nearby, but London proper could not exist until a bridge was built. Two ancient fords were in use in the high tide section of the river. These were apparently connected to Watling Street which was London’s main street in Roman times.  Initially the bridge was made of wood, but in the 1176 one was built in stone.

 

And on the Thames there were not many bridges in those days, so it was always full of people coming and going. However, the beauty of London Bridge at the time was that it looked a bit like Florence’s Ponte Vecchio, it had houses and shops on its sides and a road that crossed it about 8 meters wide.

Old London Bridge

In the 1200 and 1300 the bridge was a meeting point, with many shops and even the heads of traitors were hung up after the execution. The head of William Wallace, a Scottish hero, was displayed here after the execution.

The bridge survived several fires, but during the Great London Fire of 1666, the bridge was badly damaged (a bridge should take you across a river, if it fails to do so, at that point it doesn’t do much for a bridge) and knocked out use.

Finally it was demolished in 1823. Such a shame, it would have been very photogenic and a major tourist attraction.

Rennie’s Bridge for a new modern city

The Old London Bridge, which had served for 600 years, was replaced by John Rennie’s five-arch granite bridge in 1831. The old bridge was inspected by a parliamentary committee in 1820. The medieval bridge, built in 1209, proved problematic. While the surrounding structures had been removed, the removal of a pier and the widening of an arch made the waterway less navigable. The foundations of the old building were deteriorating. The committee proposed a new bridge in May 1821.

The City of London Corporation obtained permission from Parliament in 1823 to demolish Old London Bridge and replace it with Rennie’s project (1794 – 1874), the works began on 15 March 1824.

Each of the other three spans was wide 42, 6 m. The road was wide 10, 9 m long 19, 5 m. Construction took six years. Bridge House Estates paid for using reserves and a government grant. Bridge House Estates has benefited greatly from the properties bequeathed by grateful merchants who used Old London Bridge to enter London. King William IV opened the new bridge and arrived on a barge from Somerset House .

The old London Bridge was demolished in 1832 and this created problems for the other bridges, as it served as a barrier against the tides, safeguarding them.

The current bridge

At the end of the years’ 50, it was recognized that Rennie’s bridge could not handle traffic and that there was the urgent need for a new bridge. Structural problems prevented the widening of the bridge. The London Bridge Act of 1967 allowed the construction of a new bridge on the same site. The bridge was dismantled and sold to McCulloch Properties Inc of California. Maybe McCulloch was thinking of buying Tower Bridge, we can’t confirm this. The blocks were numbered and sent to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The old Southwark and Waterloo bridges, designed by John Rennie Sr., have also been removed. There remains only a land arch of his London Bridge on the south side of the bridge. It crosses Tooley Street and Montague Close on the south bank near Southwark Cathedral.

It is worth going to the current bridge, which is located under the shadow of the Shard, to take some magnificent panoramic photographs. If you go to St. Magnus the Martyr Church you can see where the bridge ended on the north side of the city. When you enter the church through the porch you are walking on the piece of land where a time there was the road. Also the whole area near the bridge on the south bank of the Thames has been redone and is a great walk. In the summer there are many free events.

 

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Oxford Circus in London is about to change in a big way

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Oxford Circus, in the middle of Oxford Street, will turn into an Italian-style square with two pedestrian zones. Not only will we have this big change for pedestrians, but the days of Oxford Street full of buses are also over. Good riddance, many will say, while those who rely on the bus to go to work in Oxford Street will be less excited.

The refurbishment will close Oxford Street for several hundred metres, and no bus lines will travel from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road without detours. Transport for London is preparing changes to the transport network to accommodate the works that the City of Westminster hopes will be finished by the end of 2021. From 28 August, the bus service 113 will only stop once in Oxford Street before ending at Marble Arch. For now, the N 113 will continue to travel via Oxford Circus to Trafalgar Square Buses 159 will be eliminated from Oxford Street. Instead, the route will begin and end will in Regent Street.

To complete pedestrianization, several bus lines will need to be redirected or eliminated from Oxford Circus before the beginning of the autumn works. On weekends, traffic will be diverted to Wigmore Street. Once the improvements are completed, the bus lines will be diverted through secondary roads which will be built in both directions or one way to support the bus flow.

Oxford Circus is one of the busiest intersections in London, with the shops of Oxford Street and Regent Street meeting at this point. This location has seen some notable events throughout its history, from protests to parties.

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Music

London, Jack White record store opening announced

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For those who don’t remember Jack White had become famous with the White Stripes, but meanwhile he has been busy with many projects. One of them is his record stores which are called Third Man and so far are located in Detroit and Tennessee, both cities with an important musical history.

The third shop opens in London and will have a small live music space called ‘The Blue Basement’ and the European offices of Third Man Records, most notably Paul Weller and The Jesus and Mary Chain and a rarity from Manchester legendary group ‘The Magic Roundabout’. You don’t have to go to London to buy them, you can go to their website and buy them online.

The shop and music space will open on 25 September in Soho, at 1 Marshall Street in Soho, London W1F 9BA. It should be an interesting project, and at least this time not founded by some multinational.

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