Quick Quiz: How Much Do You Know About London's Street Furniture?

M@
By M@
Quick Quiz: How Much Do You Know About London's Street Furniture?
A row of black, white and red bollards. One has been wrapped in pink
Image: Matt Brown

Benches, bollards, lamp posts... it's easy to ignore these everyday items of street furniture as we go about our daily business. But pay attention and you'll start to notice all kinds of curiosities hiding in plain site. Here are 10 questions, originally presented as a mini-quiz at a recent London Historians pub evening. The winning team managed to get 8 out of 10... how well will you do?

1. Where in London can you find a memorial bench dedicated to the late, great Rik Mayall?

A golden plaque dedicated to Rik Mayall
Image: Matt Brown

2. Many organisations put plaques on buildings, but the most prestigious is the so-called Blue Plaque scheme now overseen by English Heritage. The Square Mile has only one of these 'Blue Plaques' and it isn't even blue. Who does it remember?

3. Starting in Queen Victoria's reign, most post boxes have carried the cypher or monogram of the reigning monarch. Which king or queen has the fewest examples in London?

4. Police call boxes were once a common sight on London's streets, and live on in popular imagination thanks to Doctor Who. But outside which tube station can you still find a police box, albeit a 1990s pastiche?

5. A famous lamp post can be found on Carting Lane, whose light was partly powered by sewer gas. Flushings from which nearby hotel would have contributed the most methane?

6. What’s unusual about the platform-level clocks at Wanstead, Gants Hill, Bethnal Green and Redbridge tube stations?

7. Where can you find a water pump featuring a wolf's head, which is said to mark the spot where the last wolf was shot in the City of London.

A water pump with a wolf's head
Image Matt Brown

8. Clifford's Inn Passage off Fleet Street contains a long piece of sloped metal known colloquially as a wazzbaffle. What function does it serve?

9. A stone alcove from the Old London Bridge can be found within the grounds of Guy’s Hospital. Whose statue sits inside it?

10. Which famous architect designed the iconic red phone kiosk (both the K2 and K6 versions)?

Answers

1. Hammersmith (on the spot where the opening credits of Bottom were filmed)

2. Samuel Johnson

3. Edward VIII, who was only king for a few months.

A red postbox with the rare cypher of Edward VIII
An Edward VIII postbox in Nunhead. Image: Matt Brown

4. Earl's Court

5. The Savoy

6. They have roundels instead of numbers

A clock with tube roundels instead of numbers
Image: Matt Brown

7. Aldgate. See our short video

8. To deter urination. More on wazzbaffles here.

9. John Keats

10. Giles Gilbert Scott, who also designed Battersea Power Station, Waterloo Bridge and Bankside Power Station (Tate Modern).

Score

0-2: A load of bollards
3-4: A good bench-mark upon which to build
5-6: Solid, but without flair... like a concrete bollard
7-8: You shine brighter than a heritage lamp post
9-10: So good, you deserve your own plaque
11+: Cheat

Last Updated 06 September 2022

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