How The National Theatre Was Born
Londonist » History
by Rob Halliday
5h ago
Rob Halliday helped the late Richard Pilbrow write his account of the National Theatre's journey from idea to icon. Here, Rob tells Londonist how a brutalist National Theatre was conceived, why it was so difficult to pull off, and why Ken Dodd led to its creators realising what they'd got wrong... A brutalist building rises. JE Rackham courtesy of Carole Ellis. Once something's been there for long enough, it tends to just get taken for granted. You stop thinking about it. You stop wondering about it, about how it came to exist. It's just there. That's perhaps true of the National Theatre, s ..read more
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Before Wembley: The Four Other FA Cup Final Venues In London
Londonist » History
by M@
5h ago
Love London history? Try our weekly history newsletter, Londonist: Time Machine. The FA Cup Final is intimately associated with Wembley... but it's not always been that way. "Welcome to Crystal Palace, the Home of English Football". It's a sign the Crystal Palace Park Trust could quite legitimately place at the entrance to that marvellous green space. For 20 years, crowds surpassing 100,000 people would flock here to watch the men's FA Cup Final. It's part of London's pre-Wembley footballing history that's been largely forgotten. A dozen or so grounds have had the honour of hosting the world ..read more
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Oak Apple Day: The Public Holiday That Celebrated Our King Hiding Up A Tree
Londonist » History
by Will Noble
1w ago
For more London history, take a look at our weekly newsletter Londonist: Time Machine. An artist's impression of that fateful day when Charles II played hide and seek with some Roundheads. Christians wearing a crucifix, quipped Bill Hicks, is "kinda like going up to Jackie Onassis with a rifle pendant on". You might draw a similar comparison to the tradition of Oak Apple Day — that of wearing oak apples or leaves to commemorate Charles II's less-than-kingly feat of secreting himself up a tree in Shropshire after fleeing a battle. Is this something the Merry Monarch would honestly want to be ..read more
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Tower Bridge: The Most Outrageous Stunts
Londonist » History
by M@
1w ago
Tower Bridge has attracted all kinds of attention over the decades, including some spectacular stunts. 12 May 2024 saw two wingsuited skydivers fly between the bascules and upper level of Tower Bridge, before landing by parachute on barges in the Thames: It was an audacious, intricately planned stunt. But it's certainly not the first time Tower Bridge has been the centrepiece for a spot of death defiance... 1912: First Flyunder Just nine years after the Wright Brothers' pioneering flight, Frank McClean had sufficient confidence to manoeuvre beneath bridges in a plane. Starting from the Isle o ..read more
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Ghost Railways: Walk The Belmont Trail
Londonist » History
by M@
1w ago
Image: Matt Brown A walk along a disused railway in north London. It was never on the tube map, but between 1890 and 1952 you could catch a train from Harrow & Wealdstone to Stanmore. The track was taken up in the 1960s, and now makes a semi-pleasant walk between the two centres. Let's get our bearings with a map: Our route is shown in red. The Jubilee line to Stanmore is shown in purple, as it was formerly part of the Metropolitan line. Image: Public domain, created by Cnbrb Potted history The Stanmore Branch line was opened in 1890 by entrepreneur Frederick Gordon. He'd recently bou ..read more
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Chiswick's Unique Voysey House Has Been Restored
Londonist » History
by M@
1w ago
Image: Historic England This distinctive building in Chiswick is back to its full glory. It's a remarkable story. The Sanderson Wallpaper firm moved into this unique Chiswick factory in 1902, employing over 1,000 local staff. They moved on after a fire in 1928 but now, almost 100 years later, they're back. Voysey House, a landmark beside Chiswick High Street, was concocted by arts-and-crafts designer CFA Voysey, more noted for his domestic architecture. The Chiswick factory is his only building of this type, and quite unlike anything else in London. Well, it would be wrong NOT to admire it ..read more
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Natural History Museum's New 'Dinosaur Garden' Opens In July
Londonist » History
by Will Noble
2w ago
The Evolution Garden tells the story of more than 2.7 billion years of Earth's history through an immersive timeline of plants, geology and representations of reptiles, birds and mammals. © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London If, like us, you were saddened by the permanent closure of the Natural History Museum's beloved ice rink — and indeed the retirement of Dippy — then here's the gargantuan silver lining: a five-acre 'dinosaur garden' is opening this July. The Natural History Museum has increased the pond area by 60%. © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London ..read more
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Covent Garden's Puppet Festival Returns This May
Londonist » History
by Laura Reynolds
3w ago
© Ned Dyke-Coomes That's the way to do it! Covent Garden's May Fayre & Puppet Festival is back for 2024. The free, family-friendly event celebrates the anniversary of the first recorded sighting of Mr Punch, an early version of today's Punch & Judy shows. It was diarist Samuel Pepys who recalls seeing "an Italian puppet play — a great resort for gallants within the rayles of Covent Garden" in May 1662. Pepys' puppet sighting is recorded by a plaque on the wall of St Paul's Church, unveiled in 1962. This led to the first Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival being held in 1976 ..read more
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A Northerner On The Tube In The 1970s
Londonist » History
by Andrew Martin
1M ago
Transport author Andrew Martin writes about his experiences as a teen northerner in the 1970s riding the London Underground. You can read much more of this sort of thing on Andrew's Substack, Reading on Trains, all about trains and travel from a cultural and social-history point of view. "The guards were heavy booted, anti-social-looking men, usually pale — from spending too long underground, I supposed." Image: Mike Goldwater from this article I was a privileged youth, in the literal and limited sense that, as the son of a man quite high up in British Rail, I possessed a 'privilege pass' f ..read more
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Unseen Photos Of Tower Bridge's 1894 Opening Week To Go On Display
Londonist » History
by Laura Reynolds
1M ago
For more of all things London history, sign up for our new (free) newsletter and community: Londonist: Time Machine. Some of the first members of the public to use Tower Bridge are shown in the exhibition Previously unseen photos of Tower Bridge from its opening week in 1894 will go on show this summer. The new open-air exhibition — marking the landmark's 130th birthday — features photos kept by one of its original engineers, Edward Cruttell. They were discovered recently by Cruttell's descendants, and show the final few weeks of the bridge's construction, including the workers responsible ..read more
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