Ben Le Vay's Eccentric London: A Practical Guide to a Curious City

Author(s): Benedict Le Vay

Guides & Maps a man who listens to tube trains from the road above with a large hearing-trumpet, the inventor who made giant ships out of ice, a chap who rides down the river in an Edwardian bath chair, the guy with the world's biggest collection of pillar boxes...These are just a few of the colourful characters to be found in Eccentric London. This is an insider's guide to the city by someone who has lived, loved, eaten, drank and worked in London for five decades. He takes you to the best and most eccentric pubs and restaurants, specialist shops (26,000 stores selling GBP62billion worth of stuff a year), bizarre bookshops, weird museums, least-known secret neighbourhoods where you won't find tourists, but will find the utterly odd and amazing. Marvel at the petrified pile of century-old hot cross buns at the Widow's Son pub; discover what the 'Royal Ravenmaster' does for a living; and pay a visit to Pierre Vivant's curious tree, formed from 75 sets of blinking traffic lights. "Ben le Vay's Eccentric London" will help you dig beneath the capital's barmy surface to reveal the barmier world beneath.


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'Those who read it are unlikely ever to look at London, or Londoners the same way again.' Britain Calling 'One of the best (guides to London).' The Mayfair Times 'Beautifully illustrated with lavish colour photography and black and white drawings. Worth buying for the front cover alone.' Essex Courier 'An endlessly fascinating book, written with huge charm, that explores the eclectic curiosities of London past and present.' The Good Book Guide

When he is not researching the underworld of British eccentricity, Benedict le Vay works as a sub-editor on the features section of a daily national newspaper. He is author of several Bradt guides: Ben le Vey's Eccentric Britain and Britain from the Rails.

Introduction viii PART ONE ECCENTRIC LONDONERS AND THEIR ODD PURSUITS 1 Chapter 1 !e Eccentric Year 3 Chapter 2 Eccentric Londoners 22 Eccentric clubs and collectors 22, North Londoners: seriously weird and wired 24, Tales of the underground 27 Chapter 3 Murderous and Battle"eld London 29 Sites of the capital's most macabre killings 29, Ghastly crime and capital punishment 38, Welcome to Wormwood Scrubs 45 Chapter 4 Career Eccentrics 49 London's oddest and oldest jobs 49 Chapter 5 Dead Eccentric London 56 London, more dead than alive 56, Where to find some dead great people 60, !e London resurrection men and grave crimes 71 Chapter 6 Eccentric Pastimes 72 London's oddest museums 72, !e London lidos: Art Deco oases? 82, !eatre: a better Mousetrap and other quirks 85 Chapter 7 Eccentric Shopping 88 !e shops that time forgot 88, A shock in store at Whiteley's 93 Eccentric London ppi-368.indd 4 15/02/2012 13:09 v PART TWO THE ECCENTRIC CITY 95 Chapter 8 Immortalised London 96 London addresses immortalised 96, Rhyme and reason 99 Chapter 9 London's Road to Eccentricity 106 London's eccentric road and place names 106, Chimps and babies on buses 113, London's earliest accidents 114, Alternative transportation 114 Chapter 10 Beneath the Eccentric City 120 Difficult-to-believe Tube experiences 120, Ten fascinating bits of underground London 122, !e lost rivers of London and their legends 129 Chapter 11 Eccentric Churches 136 Secret churches and hidden puns 136, Cockneys with bells on 137, !rashed choir boys and pillaging Danes 138, Fascinating features and marvellous marbles 139, Weird names that tell great stories 140, Actors, a highwayman and the handsomest barn 141, Classic ding-dongs and a Gothic horror show 143, !e peculiar Abbey habit 144, St Martin-in-the- Fields, a highwayman and royal whores 145, Lost and wandering towers, a crypt ascending to heaven 146, London's most exotic places of worship 148 Chapter 12 London: Home of Eccentrics 151 Plaque to the future 151, Cheyne Walk - London's most brilliant road 155 Chapter 13 Eccentric Buildings 166 Westminster Palace and the perils of keeping tally 166, 11 Eccentric London buildings 168, Art Deco, dream palaces and recognising a sucker 175, Towering eccentricities around London 176, !e mystery locations 178, From phew to view 178 Chapter 14 Monumentally Eccentric 180 !e historic stones of old London 180, 12 rather Eccentric London ppi-368.indd 5 15/02/2012 13:09 vi strange London sculptures 184, London's lost American connections 189, !e origins of Down Under 196 Chapter 15 Eccentric Boozers, Beasts and Bogs 197 Peculiar pubs and their strange stories 197, London's most unlikely beasts 206, !e strangest loos of London 211 PART THREE BIZARRE BITS OF INNER LONDON 215 Chapter 16 Earl's Court 216 Irish giants and sparrow's kneecaps 216, Earl's Court today 219, !e dead centre of Earl's Court 221, Making a complete exhibition of itself 227 Chapter 17 Fleet Street 229 Fleet Street and Smithfield walk 229 Chapter 18 Soho 251 Fitzrovia to Soho walk 251 Chapter 19 Southwark 262 Borough to Blackfriars - Dickensian suffering and horrid history 262 Chapter 20 Whitechapel 275 A short walk about Whitechapel 275 PART FOUR VILLAGE LONDON 289 Chapter 21 Dulwich 290 A crazy mixed-up place 290, A walk around picturesque Dulwich 294 Chapter 22 Greenwich 306 A walk around the best and oddest bits 306 Chapter 23 Hammersmith 325 A jewel within a toad 325, A walk around Hammersmith 325 Eccentric London ppi-368.indd 6 15/02/2012 13:09 Chapter 24 Kensington 341 Strange secrets behind all the bollards 341, Dark satanic mills and the mouth of Hell 341, Complex Diana and the unpalatable truth 356 Index 361

General Fields

  • : 9781841623948
  • : Bradt Travel Guides
  • : Bradt Travel Guides
  • : 0.499
  • : April 2012
  • : 216mm X 135mm X 30mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Benedict Le Vay
  • : Paperback
  • : 3rd Revised edition
  • : 914.21048612
  • : 384
  • : 16pp colour photos, 50 line drawings, 7 maps