10 questions about the capital even life-long Londoners cannot answer

London is a fascinating city, with even those who have lived there all their lives learning new things about it all the time. But what about the questions that nobody can answer? The things we know about the capital, but are not sure how they came about? Here are a few to ponder.

  1. Why is there only one road in The City of London?

The City of London, the original Square Mile that the entire metropolis grew from, has only one road – Goswell Road. And it only attained it in 1994 when the boundaries changed. It has its fair share of streets, lanes and ways, but apparently roads weren’t in vogue when the naming of thoroughfares in The City occurred.

  1. What’s in the time capsule beneath Cleopatra’s Needle?

There is a time capsule buried under Cleopatra’s Needle on Embankment, which has been there since 1878. Despite rumours it contains A Bradshaw Railway Guide, photos of 12 English beauties and a box of cigars, nobody will actually know until it is unearthed.

  1. Why was a walrus buried in a St Pancras churchyard?

Excavations of a St Pancras churchyard in 2003 unearthed a very bizarre discovery. As well as eight human skeletons, archaeologists found the remains of a giant tusked walrus. How and why it got there is still a mystery.

  1. Who made the decision to make all London buses red?

Red London buses are famous all over the world, but before 1907 each route had a different coloured bus. Why is this no longer the case?

  1. Why was the top walkway on Tower Bridge closed?

As well as crossing the Thames using the lower section of Tower Bridge, it was also possible to walk long the top section until 1910. The official reason for closing it was lack of use, but various other theories have proliferated since then.

  1. Where did the London Stone come from?

To be found behind a grate in the wall of an old building at 111 Cannon Street, the London Stone is a rather understated attraction. Despite this, it has had a prominent place in history from the Roman times and through literature. Its origins are completely lost, however, but it is known to have been in the capital for centuries.

  1. Who was Inspector Sands?

If you hear a call over the tannoy for Inspector Sands while travelling by Tube it means there is a fire at the station. The announcement is designed to alert all staff without causing major panic to the public. It is thought that the code was originally used in theatres, but did Inspector Sands ever exist and why was it adopted by the London Underground?

  1. Why did Spitalfields used to be called Lolsworth?

The area if Spitalfields, which stretches across Central and East London used to be called Lolsworth. While we know that the newer name probably came from the fact the land used to belong to the St Mary Spital priory and hospital, the older name is a mystery.

  1. Who owns Witanhurst Mansion?

Just about every tourist to come to London knows all about the city’s largest dwelling – Buckingham Palace – but what about the second biggest? Witanhurst Mansion was bought for £50 million in 2008 from an offshore account and it’s still unclear who the owners are.

  1. How long is a Tube minute?

The sign at the station reads one minute for the next train, but these minutes are invariably of differing lengths. Are Tube minutes longer or shorter than 60 seconds or is it just that time becomes warped on the London Underground network?

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