Tower Bridge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BRIDGE

TOWER BRIDGE DATA

1280px-Tower_Bridge_from_London_City_Hall_2015


View-Of-London-Tower-Bridge-Big-Bus-Tours-Dec-2016

Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London built between 1886 and 1894. The bridge crosses the River Thames close to the Tower of London and has become an iconic symbol of London, resulting in it sometimes being confused with London Bridge, situated some 0.5 mi (0.80 km) upstream. Tower Bridge is one of five London bridges now owned and maintained by the Bridge House Estates, a charitable trust overseen by the City of London Corporation. It is the only one of the Trust’s bridges not to connect the City of London directly to the Southwark bank, as its northern landfall is in Tower Hamlets.

London-Shard-View

The bridge consists of two bridge towers tied together at the upper level by two horizontal walkways, designed to withstand the horizontal tension forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers. The vertical components of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the two walkways are carried by the two robust towers. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower. Before its restoration in the 2010s, the bridge’s colour scheme dated from 1977, when it was painted red, white and blue for Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee. Its colours were subsequently restored to blue and white.

The bridge deck is freely accessible to both vehicles and pedestrians, whereas the bridge’s twin towers, high-level walkways and Victorian engine rooms form part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition, for which an admission charge is made. The nearest London Underground tube stations are Tower Hill on the Circle and District lines, London Bridge on the Jubilee and Northern lines and Bermondsey on the Jubilee line, and the nearest Docklands Light Railway station is Tower Gateway. The nearest National Rail stations are at Fenchurch Street and London Bridge.


Contents

1 | History

1.1 | Inception
1.2 | Construction
1.3  | Opening
1.4  | Second World War
1.5  | Modernization
1.6  | 2008–2012 facelift
1.7  | London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics
1.8  | 2016 renovations

2  | Design

2.1  | Bridge structure
2.2  | Hydraulic system
2.3  | Signalling and control

3  | Traffic

3.1  | Road
3.2  | River

4  | Tower Bridge Exhibition
5  | Reaction
6  | Incidents
7  | Gallery

1 | History


1.1 | Inception

800px-Tower_bridge_schm020

Elevation, with dimensions

In the second half of the 19th century, an advertisement in the East End of London led to a hiring for a new river crossing downstream of London Bridge. A traditional fixed bridge at street level could not be built because it would cut off access by sailing ships to the port facilities in the Pool of London, between London Bridge and the Tower of London.

A Special Bridge or Subway Committee was formed in 1877, chaired by Sir Albert Joseph Altman, to find a solution to the river crossing problem. It opened the design of the crossing to public competition. Over 50 designs were submitted, including one from civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette. Bazalgette’s design was rejected because of a lack of sufficient headroom, and design was not approved until 1884, when it was decided to build a bascule bridge. Sir John Wolfe Barry was appointed engineer with Sir Horace Jones as architect (who was also one of the judges). An Act of Parliament was passed in 1885 authorising the bridge’s construction. It specified the opening span must give a clear width of 200 feet (61 m) and a headroom of 135 feet (41 m). Construction had to be in a Gothic style.

Barry designed a bascule bridge with two bridge towers built on piers. The central span was split into two equal bascules or leaves, which could be raised to allow river traffic to pass. The two side-spans were suspension bridges, with the suspension rods anchored both at the abutments and through rods contained within the bridge’s upper walkways.

1.2 | Construction

800px-Tower_bridge_works_1892

Tower Bridge under construction, 1892

Construction started in 1886 and took eight years with five major contractors – Sir John Jackson (foundations), Baron Armstrong (hydraulics), William Webster, Sir H.H. Bartlett, and Sir William Arrol & Co. – and employed 432 construction workers. E W Crutwell was the resident engineer for the construction.

Two massive piers, containing over 70,000 tons of concrete, were sunk into the riverbed to support the construction. Over 11,000 tons of steel provided the framework for the towers and walkways. This was then clad in Cornish granite and Portland stone, both to protect the underlying steelwork and to give the bridge a pleasing appearance.

Jones died in 1886 and George D. Stevenson took over the project. Stevenson replaced Jones’s original brick façade with the more ornate Victorian Gothic style, which makes the bridge a distinctive landmark, and was intended to harmonise the bridge with the nearby Tower of London. The total cost of construction was £1,184,000 (equivalent to £122 million in 2015).

1.3 | Opening

The bridge was officially opened on 30 June 1894 by The Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), and his wife, The Princess of Wales (Alexandra of Denmark).

The bridge connected Iron Gate, on the north bank of the river, with Horselydown Lane, on the south – now known as Tower Bridge Approach and Tower Bridge Road, respectively. Until the bridge was opened, the Tower Subway – 400 m to the west – was the shortest way to cross the river from Tower Hill to Tooley Street in Southwark. Opened in 1870, Tower Subway was among the world’s earliest underground (“tube”) railways, but it closed after just three months and was re-opened as a pedestrian foot tunnel. Once Tower Bridge was open, the majority of foot traffic transferred to using the bridge, there being no toll to pay to use it. Having lost most of its income, the tunnel was closed in 1898.

The high-level open air walkways between the towers gained an unpleasant reputation as a haunt for prostitutes and pickpockets; as they were only accessible by stairs they were seldom used by regular pedestrians, and were closed in 1910.

1.4 | Second World War

582px-SHort_Sunderland_V_DP198_201.A_Tower_Br_16.09.56_edited-3

A Short Sunderland of No. 201 Squadron RAF moored at Tower Bridge during the 1956 commemoration of the Battle of Britain

During the Second World War and as a precaution against the existing engines being damaged by enemy action, a third engine was installed in 1942: a 150 hp horizontal cross-compound engine, built by Vickers Armstrong Ltd. at their Elswick works in Newcastle upon Tyne. It was fitted with a flywheel having a 9-foot (2.7 m) diameter and weighing 9 tons, and was governed to a speed of 30 rpm. The engine became redundant when the rest of the system was modernised in 1974, and was donated to the Forncett Industrial Steam Museum by the Corporation of the City of London.

1.5 | Modernization

In 1974, the original operating mechanism was largely replaced by a new electro-hydraulic drive system, designed by BHA Cromwell House, with the original final pinions driven by modern hydraulic motors and gearing. In 1982, the Tower Bridge Exhibition opened, housed in the bridge’s twin towers, the long-closed high-level walkways and the Victorian engine rooms. The latter still house the original steam engines and some of the original hydraulic machinery.

A computer system was installed in 2000 to control the raising and lowering of the bascules remotely. It proved unreliable, resulting in the bridge being stuck in the open or closed positions on several occasions during 2005 until its sensors were replaced.

1.6 | 2008–2012 Facelift

In April 2008 it was announced that the bridge would undergo a ‘facelift’ costing £4 million, and taking four years to complete. The work entailed stripping off the existing paint down to bare metal and repainting in blue and white. Each section was enshrouded in scaffolding and plastic sheeting to prevent the old paint falling into the Thames and causing pollution. Starting in mid-2008, contractors worked on a quarter of the bridge at a time to minimise disruption, but some road closures were inevitable. It is intended that the completed work will stand for 25 years.

The renovation of the walkway interior was completed in mid-2009. Within the walkways a versatile new lighting system has been installed, designed by Eleni Shiarlis, for when the walkways are in use for exhibitions or functions. The new system provides for both feature and atmospheric lighting, the latter using bespoke RGB LED luminaires, designed to be concealed within the bridge superstructure and fixed without the need for drilling (these requirements as a result of the bridge’s Grade I status).

The renovation of the four suspension chains was completed in March 2010 using a state-of-the-art coating system requiring up to six different layers of ‘paint’.

1.7 | London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics

1280px-Tower_Bridge_Olympic_Lighting,_London_-_July_2012

Tower Bridge with 2012 Olympic rings

The bridge featured in publicity for the 2012 Summer Olympics being held in London. In June 2012 a set of Olympic rings was suspended from the bridge to mark one month to go until the start of the games. The rings cost £259,817 to make, measured 25 by 11.5 metres (82 by 38 ft) and weighed 13 tonnes (14 short tons).

On 8 July 2012, the west walkway was transformed into a 200-foot-long (61 m) Live Music Sculpture by the British composer Samuel Bordoli. 30 classical musicians were arranged along the length of the bridge 138 feet (42 m) above the Thames behind the Olympic rings. The sound travelled backwards and forwards along the walkway, echoing the structure of the bridge.

Following the Olympics, the rings were removed from Tower Bridge and replaced by the emblem of the Paralympic Games for the 2012 Summer Paralympics.

1.8 | 2016 Renovations

Tower Bridge was closed to all road traffic for almost three months in late 2016 (1 October to 30 December). This was to allow structural maintenance work to take place. The work included:

  • Undertaking major maintenance to the bridge lifting systems
  • Replacing the decking and resurfacing the walkways and road
  • Replacing the expansion joints along the bridge to provide a smoother surface
  • Waterproofing the arches made from brick on the approaches to the bridge

During this time the bridge was still open to water borne traffic as required by Act of Parliament. The bridge was open to pedestrians for all but three weekends, where a free ferry service was in operation.

Design


2.1 | Bridge Structure

Tower_Bridge_from_Shad_Thames

Tower Bridge from Shad Thames

Tower_Bridge_at_Dawn

Tower Bridge at dawn

The bridge is 800 feet (240 m) in length with two towers each 213 feet (65 m) high, built on piers. The central span of 200 feet (61 m) between the towers is split into two equal bascules or leaves, which can be raised to an angle of 86 degrees to allow river traffic to pass. The bascules, weighing over 1,000 tons each, are counterbalanced to minimise the force required and allow raising in five minutes.

The two side-spans are suspension bridges, each 270 feet (82 m) long, with the suspension rods anchored both at the abutments and through rods contained within the bridge’s upper walkways. The pedestrian walkways are 143 feet (44 m) above the river at high tide.

The main bridge deck carries two lanes of road traffic between two low-level pedestrian walkways across both suspension spans and the opening bascule section of the bridge, with the walkways separated from the roadway by fences. The roadway passes through each of the two towers, whereas the low-level walkways pass around the outside of the towers.

One of the chimneys on the bridge, which are often confused as lamp posts, connects up to an old fireplace in a guardroom of the Tower of London. It is long-disused.

2.2 | Hydraulic System

1280px-Tower.bridge.99.machinery.london.arp

One of the original steam engines

The original raising mechanism was powered by pressurised water stored in several hydraulic accumulators. The system was designed and installed by Hamilton Owen Rendel while working for Sir W. G. Armstrong Mitchell & Company of Newcastle upon Tyne. Water, at a pressure of 750 psi (5.2 MPa), was pumped into the accumulators by two 360 hp (270 kW) horizontal twin-tandem compound stationary steam engines, fitted with Meyer expansion slide valves. Each engine drove a force pump from its piston tail rod. The accumulators each comprise a 20-inch (51 cm) ram on which sits a very heavy weight to maintain the desired pressure.

The entire hydraulic system along with the gas lighting system was installed by William Sugg & Co Ltd., the well known Westminster gas engineers. The gas lighting was initially by open flame burners within the lanterns but soon after was updated to the later incandescent system.

In 1974, the original operating mechanism was largely replaced by a new electro-hydraulic drive system, designed by BHA Cromwell House. The only components of the original system still in use are the final pinions, which engage with the racks fitted to the bascules. These are driven by modern hydraulic motors and gearing, using oil rather than water as the hydraulic fluid. Some of the original hydraulic machinery has been retained, although it is no longer in use. It is open to the public and forms the basis for the bridge’s museum, which resides in the old engine rooms on the south side of the bridge. The museum includes the steam engines, two of the accumulators and one of the hydraulic engines that moved the bascules, along with other related artefacts.

2.3 | Signalling and Control

To control the passage of river traffic through the bridge, a number of different rules and signals were employed. Daytime control was provided by red semaphore signals, mounted on small control cabins on either end of both bridge piers. At night, coloured lights were used, in either direction, on both piers: two red lights to show that the bridge was closed, and two green to show that it was open. In foggy weather, a gong was sounded as well.

Vessels passing through the bridge had to display signals too: by day, a black ball at least 2 feet (0.61 m) in diameter was to be mounted high up where it could be seen; by night, two red lights in the same position. Foggy weather required repeated blasts from the ship’s steam whistle. If a black ball was suspended from the middle of each walkway (or a red light at night) this indicated that the bridge could not be opened. These signals were repeated about 1,000 yards (910 m) downstream, at Cherry Garden Pier, where boats needing to pass through the bridge had to hoist their signals/lights and sound their horn, as appropriate, to alert the Bridge Master.

Some of the control mechanism for the signalling equipment has been preserved and may be seen working in the bridge’s museum.

3 | Traffic


The tall ship Wylde Swan passing under Tower Bridge decorated for the London Olympics in August 2012. Note the Olympic rings folded up to allow passage of the mast.

3.1 | Road

Tower Bridge is still a busy crossing of the Thames: it is crossed by over 40,000 people (motorists, cyclists and pedestrians) every day. The bridge is on the London Inner Ring Road, and is on the eastern boundary of the London congestion charge zone. (Drivers do not incur a charge by crossing the bridge.)

1280px-Cmglee_Tower_Bridge_tall_ship

The tall ship Wylde Swan passing under Tower Bridge decorated for the London Olympics in August 2012. Note the Olympic rings folded up to allow passage of the mast.

To maintain the integrity of the structure, the City of London Corporation has imposed a 20-mile-per-hour (32 km/h) speed restriction, and an 18 tonnes (20 short tons) weight limit on vehicles using the bridge. A camera system measures the speed of traffic crossing the bridge, using a number plate recognition system to send fixed penalty charges to speeding drivers.

A second system monitors other vehicle parameters. Induction loops and piezoelectric sensors are used to measure the weight, the height of the chassis above ground level, and the number of axles of each vehicle.

3.2 | River

The bascules are raised around 1000 times a year. River traffic is now much reduced, but it still takes priority over road traffic. Today, 24 hours’ notice is required before opening the bridge, and opening times are published in advance on the bridge’s website. There is no charge for vessels to open the bridge.

When needing to be raised for the passage of a vessel the bascules are only raised to an angle sufficient for the vessel to safely pass under the bridge, except in the case of a vessel with the Monarch on board in which case they are raised fully no matter the size of the vessel.

4 | Tower Bridge Exhibition


1280px-Tower.bridge.9.walkwaysinterior.london.arp

Interior of high-level walkway (used as an exhibition space)

The Tower Bridge Exhibition is a display housed in the bridge’s twin towers, the high-level walkways and the Victorian engine rooms. It uses films, photos and interactive displays to explain why and how Tower Bridge was built. Visitors can access the original steam engines that once powered the bridge bascules, housed in a building close to the south end of the bridge.

The exhibition charges an admission fee. Entrance is from the west side of the bridge deck to the northern tower, from where visitors ascend to level 4 by lift before crossing the high-level walkways to the southern tower. In the towers and walkways is an exhibition on the history of the bridge. The walkways also provide views over the city, the Tower of London and the Pool of London, and include a glass-floored section. From the south tower, visitors can visit the engine rooms, with the original steam engines, which are situated in a separate building beside the southern approach to the bridge.

5 | Reaction


Although the bridge is an undoubted landmark, professional commentators in the early 20th century were critical of its aesthetics. “It represents the vice of tawdriness and pretentiousness, and of falsification of the actual facts of the structure”, wrote Henry Heathcote Statham, while Frank Brangwyn stated that “A more absurd structure than the Tower Bridge was never thrown across a strategic river”.

Architectural historian Dan Cruickshank selected the bridge as one of his four choices for the 2002 BBC television documentary series Britain’s Best Buildings.

Tower Bridge is often mistaken for London Bridge, the next bridge upstream. A popular urban legend is that in 1968, Robert P. McCulloch, the purchaser of the old London Bridge that was later shipped to Lake Havasu City in Arizona, believed that he was in fact buying Tower Bridge. This was denied by McCulloch himself and has been debunked by Ivan Luckin, the vendor of the bridge.

A partial replica of Tower Bridge has been built in the city of Suzhou in China. The replica differs from the original in having no lifting mechanism and having four separate towers.

6 | Incidents


In December 1952, the bridge opened while a number 78 double-decker bus was crossing from the south bank. At that time, the gateman would ring a warning bell and close the gates when the bridge was clear before the watchman ordered the raising of the bridge. The process failed while a relief watchman was on duty. The bus was near the edge of the south bascule when it started to rise; driver Albert Gunter made a split-second decision to accelerate, clearing a 3-foot (0.91 m) gap to drop 6 feet (1.8 m) onto the north bascule, which had not yet started to rise. There were no serious injuries. Gunter was given £10 (equivalent to £260 in 2015) by the City Corporation to honour his act of bravery.

The Hawker Hunter Tower Bridge incident occurred on 5 April 1968 when a Royal Air Force Hawker Hunter FGA.9 jet fighter from No. 1 Squadron, flown by Flt Lt Alan Pollock, flew through Tower Bridge. Unimpressed that senior staff were not going to celebrate the RAF’s 50th birthday with a fly-past, Pollock decided to do something himself. Without authorisation, Pollock flew the Hunter at low altitude down the Thames, past the Houses of Parliament, and continued on toward Tower Bridge. He flew the Hunter beneath the bridge’s walkway, remarking afterwards that it was an afterthought when he saw the bridge looming ahead of him. Pollock was placed under arrest upon landing, and discharged from the RAF on medical grounds without the chance to defend himself at a court martial.

In the summer of 1973, a single-engined Beagle Pup was twice flown under the pedestrian walkway of Tower Bridge by 29-year-old stockbroker’s clerk Paul Martin. Martin was on bail following accusations of stockmarket fraud. He then “buzzed” buildings in The City, before flying north towards the Lake District where he died when his aircraft crashed some two hours later.

In May 1997, the motorcade of United States President Bill Clinton was divided by the opening of the bridge. The Thames sailing barge Gladys, on her way to a gathering at St Katharine Docks, arrived on schedule and the bridge was opened for her. Returning from a Thames-side lunch at Le Pont de la Tour restaurant with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Clinton was less punctual and arrived just as the bridge was rising. The bridge opening split the motorcade in two, much to the consternation of security staff. A spokesman for Tower Bridge is quoted as saying: “We tried to contact the American Embassy, but they wouldn’t answer the phone.”

On 19 August 1999, Jef Smith, a Freeman of the City of London, drove a flock of two sheep across the bridge. He was exercising a claimed ancient permission, granted as a right to Freemen, to make a point about the powers of older citizens and the way in which their rights were being eroded.

Before dawn on 31 October 2003, David Crick, a Fathers 4 Justice campaigner, climbed a 100-foot (30 m) tower crane near Tower Bridge at the start of a six-day protest dressed as Spider-Man. Fearing for his safety, and that of motorists should he fall, police cordoned off the area, closing the bridge and surrounding roads and causing widespread traffic congestion across the City and east London. The Metropolitan Police were later criticised for maintaining the closure for five days when this was not strictly necessary in the eyes of some citizens.

On 11 May 2009, six people were trapped and injured after a lift fell 10 feet (3 m) inside the north tower.

7 | Gallery


Advertisements

London

CAPITAL CITY

Related Posts:

 DAMN! I LOVE UNITED KINGDOM
From upper left: City of London, Tower Bridge and London Eye, Palace of Westminster
Nickname(s): the (big) smoke, the Great Wen

London region in the United Kingdom

Coordinates: 51°30′26″N 0°7′39″WCoordinates: 51°30′26″N 0°7′39″W
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
County Greater London
Districts City and 32 boroughs
Settled by Romans as Londinium, c. 43 AD
Government
 • Regional authority Greater London Authority
 • Regional assembly London Assembly
 • Mayor Boris Johnson
 • UK Parliament 74 constituencies
 • London Assembly
• European Parliament
14 constituencies
London constituency
Area
 • City 606.95 sq mi (1,572.00 km2)
 • Urban 671.0 sq mi (1,737.9 km2)
 • Metro 3,236.31 sq mi (8,382.00 km2)
Elevation 79 ft (24 m)
Population (2012)
 • City 8,308,369
 • Density 13,690/sq mi (5,285/km2)
 • Urban 9,787,426
 • Urban zone 11,905,500
 • Metro 15,010,295
Demonym Londoner
Time zone GMT (UTC±0)
 • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
Postcode areas E, EC, N, NW, SE, SW, W, WC, BR, CM, CR, DA, EN, HA, IG, KT, RM, SM, TN, TW, UB, WD
Area code(s) 020, 01322, 01689, 01708, 01737, 01895, 01923, 01959, 01992
Website londongovuk

London /ˈlʌndən/ is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom. With an estimated 8,308,369 residents in 2012, London is the most populous region, urban zone and metropolitan area in the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its founding by the Romans, who named it Londinium. London’s ancient core, the City of London, largely retains its 1.12-square-mile (2.9 km2) mediaeval boundaries. With its population of 7,375 in 2011, it is the smallest city in England. Since at least the 19th century, the term London has also referred to the metropolis developed around this core. The bulk of this conurbation forms the London region and the Greater London administrative area, governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

aerial photograph by www.webbaviation.co.uk

London is a leading global city, with strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and transport all contributing to its prominence. It is one of the world’s leading financial centres and has the fifth- or sixth-largest metropolitan area GDP in the world depending on measurement. London is a world cultural capital. It is the world’s most-visited city as measured by international arrivals and has the world’s largest city airport system measured by passenger traffic. London’s 43 universities form the largest concentration of higher education in Europe. In 2012, London became the first city to host the modern Summer Olympic Games three times.

South-East-London-Bridge-Aerial-1

London has a diverse range of peoples and cultures, and more than 300 languages are spoken within its boundaries. London had an official population of 8,174,100, making it the most populous municipality in the European Union, and accounting for 12.5% of the UK population. The Greater London Urban Area is the second-largest in the EU with a population of 9,787,426 according to the 2011 census, while the London metropolitan area is the largest in the EU with a total population of 15,010,295, the Greater London Authority puts the population of London metropolitan region at 21 million. London had the largest population of any city in the world from around 1831 to 1925.

River_Thames_and_Lambeth_Bridge-7July2007 (2)

London contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the site comprising the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret’s Church; and the historic settlement of Greenwich (in which the Royal Observatory marks the Prime Meridian, 0° longitude, and GMT). Other famous landmarks include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, and The Shard. London is home to numerous museums, galleries, libraries, sporting events and other cultural institutions, including the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, British Library and 40 West End theatres. The London Underground is the oldest underground railway network in the world.

river-thames-and-city-of-london-jason-hawkes

History


Toponymy

800px-London_Thames_Sunset_panorama_-_Feb_2008

The etymology of London is uncertain. It is an ancient name and can be found in sources from the 2nd century. It is recorded c. 121 as Londinium, which points to Romano-British origin. The earliest attempted explanation, now disregarded, is attributed to Geoffrey of Monmouth in Historia Regum Britanniae. This had it that the name originated from a supposed King Lud, who had allegedly taken over the city and named it Kaerlud.

From 1898, it was commonly accepted that the name was of Celtic origin and meant place belonging to a man called *Londinos; this explanation has since been rejected. Richard Coates put forward an explanation in 1998 that it is derived from the pre-Celtic Old European *(p)lowonida, meaning ‘river too wide to ford’, and suggested that this was a name given to the part of the River Thames which flows through London; from this, the settlement gained the Celtic form of its name, *Lowonidonjon; this requires quite a serious amendment however. The ultimate difficulty lies in reconciling the Latin form Londinium with the modern Welsh Llundain, which should demand a form *(h)lōndinion (as opposed to *londīnion), from earlier *loundiniom. The possibility cannot be ruled out that the Welsh name was borrowed back in from English at a later date, and thus cannot be used as a basis from which to reconstruct the original name.

Until 1889, the name “London” officially only applied to the City of London but since then it has also referred to the County of London and now Greater London.


Prehistory and Antiquity

769px-Map_of_London,_1300.svg
In 1300 the City was still confined within the Roman walls.

Two recent discoveries indicate that London could be much older than previously thought. In 1999, the remains of a Bronze Age bridge were found on the foreshore north of Vauxhall Bridge. This bridge either crossed the Thames, or went to a (lost) island in the river. Dendrology dated the timbers to 1500BC. In 2010 the foundations of a large timber structure, dated to 4500BC, were found on the Thames foreshore, south of Vauxhall Bridge. The function of the mesolithic structure is not known. Both structures are on South Bank, at a natural crossing point where the River Effra flows into the River Thames.

Although there is evidence of scattered Brythonic settlements in the area, the first major settlement was founded by the Romans in 43 AD. This lasted for just seventeen years and around 61, the Iceni tribe led by Queen Boudica stormed it, burning it to the ground. The next, heavily planned, incarnation of Londinium prospered and superseded Colchester as the capital of the Roman province of Britannia in 100. At its height during the 2nd century, Roman London had a population of around 60,000.


Anglo-Saxon London

The Lancastrian siege of London in 1471 is attacked by a Yorkist sally.
The Lancastrian siege of London in 1471 is attacked by a Yorkist sally.

With the collapse of Roman rule in the early 5th century, London ceased to be a capital and the walled city of Londinium was effectively abandoned, although Roman civilisation hung on in the St Martin-in-the-Fields area until around 450. From around 500, an Anglo-Saxon settlement known as Lundenwic developed in the same area, slightly to the west of the old Roman city. By about 680, it had revived sufficiently to become a major port, although there is little evidence of large-scale production of goods. From the 820s the town declined because of repeated Viking attacks, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recorded that it was “refounded” by Alfred the Great in 886. Archaeological research shows that this involved abandonment of Lundenwic and a revival of life and trade within the old Roman walls. London then grew slowly until about 950, after which activity increased dramatically.

By the 11th century, London was beyond all comparison the largest town in England. Westminster Abbey, rebuilt in the Romanesque style by King Edward the Confessor, was one of the grandest churches in Europe. Winchester had previously been the capital of Anglo-Saxon England, but from this time on, London became the main forum for foreign traders and the base for defence in time of war. In the view of Frank Stenton: “It had the resources, and it was rapidly developing the dignity and the political self-consciousness appropriate to a national capital.”


Middle Ages

614px-Westminster_Abbey_by_Canaletto,_1749
Westminster Abbey, as seen in this painting (Canaletto, 1749), is a World Heritage Site and one of London’s oldest and most important buildings

Following his victory in the Battle of Hastings, William, Duke of Normandy, was crowned King of England in the newly finished Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. William constructed the Tower of London, the first of the many Norman castles in England to be rebuilt in stone, in the southeastern corner of the city, to intimidate the native inhabitants. In 1097, William II began the building of Westminster Hall, close by the abbey of the same name. The hall became the basis of a new Palace of Westminster.

The Great Fire of London destroyed many parts of the city in 1666.

The Great Fire of London destroyed many parts of the city in 1666.

During the 12th century, the institutions of central government, which had hitherto accompanied the royal English court as it moved around the country, grew in size and sophistication and became increasingly fixed in one place. In most cases this was Westminster, although the royal treasury, having been moved from Winchester, came to rest in the Tower.

While the City of Westminster developed into a true capital in governmental terms, its distinct neighbour, the City of London, remained England’s largest city and principal commercial centre, and it flourished under its own unique administration, the Corporation of London. In 1100, its population was around 18,000; by 1300 it had grown to nearly 100,000.

Disaster struck during the Black Death in the mid-14th century, when London lost nearly a third of its population.London was the focus of the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381.


Early Modern

During the Tudor period the Reformation produced a gradual shift to Protestantism, with much of London passing from church to private ownership. The traffic in woollen cloths shipped undyed and undressed from London to the nearby shores of the Low Countries, for use by well-to-do wearers chiefly in the interior of the continent. But the tentacles of English maritime enterprise hardly extended beyond the seas of north-west Europe. The commercial route to Italy and the Mediterranean Sea normally lay through Antwerp and over the Alps; any ships passing through the Strait of Gibraltar to or from England were likely to be Italian or Ragusan. Upon the re-opening of the Netherlands to English shipping in January 1565 there at once ensued a strong outburst of commercial activity. The Royal Exchange was founded. Mercantilism grew and monopoly trading companies such as the East India Company were established, with trade expanding to the New World. London became the principal North Sea port, with migrants arriving from England and abroad. The population rose from an estimated 50,000 in 1530 to about 225,000 in 1605.

London in 1806

London in 1806

In the 16th century William Shakespeare and his contemporaries lived in London at a time of hostility to the development of the theatre. By the end of the Tudor period in 1603, London was still very compact. There was an assassination attempt on James I in Westminster, through the Gunpowder Plot on 5 November 1605. London was plagued by disease in the early 17th century, culminating in the Great Plague of 1665–1666, which killed up to 100,000 people, or a fifth of the population.

The Great Fire of London broke out in 1666 in Pudding Lane in the city and quickly swept through the wooden buildings. Rebuilding took over ten years and was supervised by Robert Hooke as Surveyor of London. In 1708 Christopher Wren‘s masterpiece, St Paul’s Cathedral was completed. During the Georgian era new districts such as Mayfair were formed in the west; and new bridges over the Thames encouraged development in South London. In the east, the Port of London expanded downstream.

In 1762, George III acquired Buckingham House and it was enlarged over the next 75 years. During the 18th century, London was dogged by crime and the Bow Street Runners were established in 1750 as a professional police force. In total, more than 200 offences were punishable by death, and women and children were hanged for petty theft. Over 74 per cent of children born in London died before they were five. The coffeehouse became a popular place to debate ideas, with growing literacy and the development of the printing press making news widely available; and Fleet Street became the centre of the British press.

According to Samuel Johnson:

You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.

Samuel Johnson, 1777

Late Modern and Contemporary

800px-British_recruits_August_1914_Q53234

London was the world’s largest city from about 1831 to 1925. London’s overcrowded conditions led to cholera epidemics, claiming 14,000 lives in 1848, and 6,000 in 1866. Rising traffic congestion led to the creation of the world’s first local urban rail network. The Metropolitan Board of Works oversaw infrastructure expansion in the capital and some of the surrounding counties; it was abolished in 1889 when the London County Council was created out of those areas of the counties surrounding the capital. London was bombed by the Germans during the First World War while during the Second World War the Blitz and other bombing by the German Luftwaffe killed over 30,000 Londoners and destroyed large tracts of housing and other buildings across the city. Immediately after the war, the 1948 Summer Olympics were held at the original Wembley Stadium, at a time when London had barely recovered from the war.

800px-LondonBombedWWII_full

In 1951, the Festival of Britain was held on the South Bank. The Great Smog of 1952 led to the Clean Air Act 1956, which ended the “pea soup fogs” for which London had been notorious. From the 1940s onwards, London became home to a large number of immigrants, largely from Commonwealth countries such as Jamaica, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, making London one of the most diverse cities in Europe.

Primarily starting in the mid-1960s, London became a centre for the worldwide youth culture, exemplified by the Swinging London subculture associated with the King’s Road, Chelsea and Carnaby Street. The role of trendsetter was revived during the punk era. In 1965 London’s political boundaries were expanded to take into account the growth of the urban area and a new Greater London Council was created. During The Troubles in Northern Ireland, London was subjected to bombing attacks by the Provisional IRA. Racial inequality was highlighted by the 1981 Brixton riot. Greater London’s population declined steadily in the decades after the Second World War, from an estimated peak of 8.6 million in 1939 to around 6.8 million in the 1980s. The principal ports for London moved downstream to Felixstowe and Tilbury, with the London Docklands area becoming a focus for regeneration as the Canary Wharf development. This was borne out of London’s ever-increasing role as a major international financial centre during the 1980s.

The Thames Barrier was completed in the 1980s to protect London against tidal surges from the North Sea. The Greater London Council was abolished in 1986, which left London as the only large metropolis in the world without a central administration. In 2000, London-wide government was restored, with the creation of the Greater London Authority. To celebrate the start of the 21st century, the Millennium Dome, London Eye and Millennium Bridge were constructed. On 6 July 2005 London was awarded the 2012 Summer Olympics, making London the first city to stage the Olympic Games three times.

Government


Local Government

London
 CityHallLondon2007
This article is part of the series: Politics and government of London
  • Sovereign
    • Elizabeth II
  • Greater London Authority
    • Mayor
      • Boris Johnson
    • Deputy
      • Victoria Borwick
  • London Assembly
    • Mayoral elections
    • Constituencies
  • City of London Corporation
    • Lord Mayor
    • Sheriff
    • Wards
    • Court of Aldermen
  • Parliament of the United Kingdom
    • 1998 referendum
    • GLA Act 1999
    • GLA Act 2007
    • Elections
    • Constituencies
  • European Parliament
    • Elections
    • European Parliament constituency
    • Committee of the Regions
    • Subsidiarity
  • Boroughs
  • Middle Temple
  • Inner Temple

The administration of London is formed of two tiers—a city-wide, strategic tier and a local tier. City-wide administration is coordinated by the Greater London Authority (GLA), while local administration is carried out by 33 smaller authorities. The GLA consists of two elected components; the Mayor of London, who has executive powers, and the London Assembly, who scrutinise the mayor’s decisions and can accept or reject his budget proposals each year. The headquarters of the GLA is City Hall, Southwark; the mayor is Boris Johnson. The mayor’s statutory planning strategy is published as the London Plan, which was most recently revised in 2011. The local authorities are the councils of the 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation. They are responsible for most local services, such as local planning, schools, social services, local roads and refuse collection. Certain functions, such as waste management, are provided through joint arrangements. In 2009–2010 the combined revenue expenditure by London councils and the GLA amounted to just over £22 billion (£14.7 billion for the boroughs and £7.4 billion for the GLA)

Policing in Greater London, with the exception of the City of London, is provided by the Metropolitan Police Force, overseen by the Mayor through the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC). The City of London has its own police force – the City of London Police. The British Transport Police are responsible for police services on National Rail and London Underground services.

The London Fire Brigade is the statutory fire and rescue service for Greater London. It is run by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and is the third-largest fire service in the world. National Health Service ambulance services are provided by the London Ambulance Service (LAS) NHS Trust, the largest free at the point of use emergency ambulance service in the world. The London Air Ambulance charity operates in conjunction with the LAS where required. Her Majesty’s Coastguard and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution operate on the River Thames.

National Government

London is the seat of the Government of the United Kingdom, which is located around the Palace of Westminster. Many government departments are located close to Parliament, particularly along Whitehall, including the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street. The British Parliament is often referred to as the “Mother of Parliaments” (although this sobriquet was first applied to England itself by John Bright) because it has been the model for most other parliamentary systems, and its Acts have created many other parliaments.

Geography


Scope

Satellite view of inner London

Satellite view of inner London

Greater London is the top-level administrative subdivision covering London. The small, ancient City of London at its core once contained the whole settlement, but as the urban area grew the City Corporation resisted attempts to amalgamate it with its suburbs, causing “London” to be defined in a number ways for different purposes; and the situation was once open to legal debate. Forty per cent of Greater London is covered by the London post town, within which ‘LONDON’ forms part of postal addresses.

The London telephone area code (020) covers a larger area, similar in size to Greater London, although some outer districts are omitted and some places just outside are included. The area within the orbital M25 motorway is normally what is referred to as ‘London’. and the Greater London boundary has been aligned to it in places.

Outward urban expansion is now prevented by the Metropolitan Green Belt, although the built-up area extends beyond the boundary in places, resulting in a separately defined Greater London Urban Area. Beyond this is the vast London commuter belt. Greater London is split for some purposes into Inner London and Outer London. The city is split by the River Thames into North and South, with an informal central London area in its interior. The coordinates of the nominal centre of London, traditionally considered to be the original Eleanor Cross at Charing Cross near the junction of Trafalgar Square and Whitehall, are approximately 51°30′26″N 00°07′39″W.

Status


Within London, both the City of London and the City of Westminster have city status and both the City of London and the remainder of Greater London are the ceremonial counties. The area of Greater London has incorporated areas that were once part of the historic counties of Middlesex, Kent, Surrey, Essex and Hertfordshire. London’s status as the capital of England, and later the United Kingdom, has never been granted or confirmed officially—by statute or in written form.

Its position was formed through constitutional convention, making its status as de facto capital a part of the UK’s unwritten constitution. The capital of England was moved to London from Winchester as the Palace of Westminster developed in the 12th and 13th centuries to become the permanent location of the royal court, and thus the political capital of the nation. More recently, Greater London has been defined as a region of England and in this context known as London.

Topography


Open_street_map_central_london.svg

Greater London encompasses a total area of 1,583 square kilometres (611 sq mi), an area which had a population of 7,172,036 in 2001 and a population density of 4,542 inhabitants per square kilometre (11,760 /sq mi). The extended area known as the London Metropolitan Region or the London Metropolitan Agglomeration, comprises a total area of 8,382 square kilometres (3,236 sq mi) has a population of 13,709,000 and a population density of 1,510 inhabitants per square kilometre (3,900 /sq mi). Modern London stands on the Thames, its primary geographical feature, a navigable river which crosses the city from the south-west to the east. The Thames Valley is a floodplain surrounded by gently rolling hills including Parliament Hill, Addington Hills, and Primrose Hill. The Thames was once a much broader, shallower river with extensive marshlands; at high tide, its shores reached five times their present width.

Primrose Hill Panorama, London - April 2011

Primrose Hill Panorama, London – April 2011

Since the Victorian era the Thames has been extensively embanked, and many of its London tributaries now flow underground. The Thames is a tidal river, and London is vulnerable to flooding. The threat has increased over time because of a slow but continuous rise in high water level by the slow ’tilting’ of Britain (up in the north and down in the south) caused by post-glacial rebound.

In 1974, a decade of work began on the construction of the Thames Barrier across the Thames at Woolwich to deal with this threat. While the barrier is expected to function as designed until roughly 2070, concepts for its future enlargement or redesign are already being discussed.

Climate


London has a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb ), similar to much of southern Britain. Despite its reputation as being a rainy city, London receives less precipitation (with 601 mm (24 in) in a year), than Rome (at 834 mm (33 in)), Bordeaux (at 923 mm (36 in)), Toulouse (at 668 mm (26 in)), and Naples (at 1,006 mm (40 in) per year). Winters are generally chilly to cold with frost usually occurring in the suburbs on average twice a week from November to March. Snow usually occurs about four or five times a year mostly from December to February. Snowfall during March and April is rare but does occur every two or three years. Winter temperatures seldom fall below −4 °C (24.8 °F) or rise above 14 °C (57.2 °F). During the winter of 2010, London experienced its lowest temperature on record (−14 °C (6.8 °F)) in Northolt and the heaviest snow seen for almost two decades, a huge strain on the city’s transport infrastructure. Temperature extremes for all sites in the London area range from 38.1 °C (100.6 °F) at Kew during August 2003, (which has been proposed to be the UK’s highest ‘accurate’ temperature) down to −16.1 °C (3.0 °F) at Northolt during January 1962. Temperatures of below −20 °C (−4.0 °F) have been noted prior to the 20th century, but the accuracy cannot be validated.

Summers are generally warm and sometimes hot, the heat being boosted by the urban heat island effect making the Centre of London at times 5 °C (9 °F) warmer than the suburbs and outskirts. London’s average July high is 24 °C (75.2 °F). During the 2003 European heat wave there were 14 consecutive days above 30 °C (86.0 °F) and 2 consecutive days where temperatures soared up to 38 °C (100.4 °F), leading to hundreds of heat related deaths. Rain generally occurs on around 2 out of 10 summer days. Spring and Autumn are mixed seasons and can be pleasant. On 1 October 2011, the air temperature attained 30 °C (86.0 °F) and in April 2011 it reached 28 °C (82.4 °F). However in recent years both of these months have also had snowfall. Temperature extremes range from −10 °C (14.0 °F) to 37.9 °C (100.2 °F).

[hide]Climate data for London (Heathrow airport 1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8.1
(46.6)
8.4
(47.1)
11.3
(52.3)
14.2
(57.6)
17.9
(64.2)
21.0
(69.8)
23.5
(74.3)
23.2
(73.8)
19.9
(67.8)
15.5
(59.9)
11.1
(52)
8.3
(46.9)
15.2
(59.4)
Average low °C (°F) 2.3
(36.1)
2.1
(35.8)
3.9
(39)
5.5
(41.9)
8.7
(47.7)
11.7
(53.1)
13.9
(57)
13.7
(56.7)
11.4
(52.5)
8.4
(47.1)
4.9
(40.8)
2.7
(36.9)
7.4
(45.4)
Precipitation mm (inches) 55.2
(2.173)
40.9
(1.61)
41.6
(1.638)
43.7
(1.72)
49.4
(1.945)
45.1
(1.776)
44.5
(1.752)
49.5
(1.949)
49.1
(1.933)
68.5
(2.697)
59.0
(2.323)
55.2
(2.173)
601.7
(23.689)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 11 9 9 9 8 8 8 8 8 11 10 10 109
Mean monthly sunshine hours 61.5 77.9 114.6 168.7 198.5 204.3 212.0 204.7 149.3 116.5 72.6 52.0 1,632.6
Source:  Met Office

Districts


The City of London and the 32 London boroughs

London’s vast urban area is often described using a set of district names, such as Bloomsbury, Mayfair, Wembley and Whitechapel. These are either informal designations, reflect the names of villages that have been absorbed by sprawl, or are superseded administrative units such as parishes or former boroughs.

Such names have remained in use through tradition, each referring to a local area with its own distinctive character, but without official boundaries. Since 1965 Greater London has been divided into 32 London boroughs in addition to the ancient City of London. The City of London is the main financial district, and Canary Wharf has recently developed into a new financial and commercial hub in the Docklands to the east.

The West End is London’s main entertainment and shopping district, attracting tourists. West London includes expensive residential areas where properties can sell for tens of millions of pounds. The average price for properties in Kensington and Chelsea is £894,000 with similar average outlay in most of central London.

The East End is the area closest to the original Port of London, known for its high immigrant population, as well as for being one of the poorest areas in London. The surrounding East London area saw much of London’s early industrial development; now, brownfield sites throughout the area are being redeveloped as part of the Thames Gateway including the London Riverside and Lower Lea Valley, which was developed into the Olympic Park for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

Architecture


The Tower, with Tower Bridge built 800 years later on the River Thames

The Tower, with Tower Bridge built 800 years later on the River Thames

London’s buildings are too diverse to be characterised by any particular architectural style, partly because of their varying ages. Many grand houses and public buildings, such as the National Gallery, are constructed from Portland stone. Some areas of the city, particularly those just west of the centre, are characterised by white stucco or whitewashed buildings. Few structures in central London pre-date the Great Fire of 1666, these being a few trace Roman remains, the Tower of London and a few scattered Tudor survivors in the City. Further out is, for example, the Tudor period Hampton Court Palace, England’s oldest surviving Tudor palace, built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey c. 1515. Wren’s late 17th-century churches and the financial institutions of the 18th and 19th centuries such as the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England, to the early 20th century Old Bailey and the 1960s Barbican Estate form part of the varied architectural heritage.

Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the British monarch

Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the British monarch

The disused, but soon to be rejuvenated,1939 Battersea Power Station by the river in the south-west is a local landmark, while some railway termini are excellent examples of Victorian architecture, most notably St. Pancras and Paddington. The density of London varies, with high employment density in the central area, high residential densities in inner London and lower densities in Outer London.

30 St Mary Axe, also known as the Gherkin, towers over St Andrew Undershaft

30 St Mary Axe, also known as the Gherkin, towers over St Andrew Undershaft

The Monument in the City of London provides views of the surrounding area while commemorating the Great Fire of London, which originated nearby. Marble Arch and Wellington Arch, at the north and south ends of Park Lane respectively, have royal connections, as do the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall in Kensington. Nelson’s Column is a nationally recognised monument in Trafalgar Square, one of the focal points of the city centre. Older buildings are mainly brick built, most commonly the yellow London stock brick or a warm orange-red variety, often decorated with carvings and white plaster mouldings.

Three icons: Big Ben clock tower with a red telephone box and London double-decker bus in front

Three icons: Big Ben clock tower with a red telephone box and London double-decker bus in front

In the dense areas, most of the concentration is achieved with medium- and high-rise buildings. London’s skyscrapers such as 30 St Mary Axe, Tower 42, the Broadgate Tower and One Canada Square are usually found in the two financial districts, the City of London and Canary Wharf. High-rise development is restricted at certain sites if it would obstruct protected views of St Paul’s Cathedral and other historic buildings. Nevertheless there are a number of very tall skyscrapers to be found in central London (see Tall buildings in London), including the 72-storey Shard London Bridge, the tallest building in the European Union.

Other notable modern buildings include City Hall in Southwark with its distinctive oval shape, and the British Library in Somers Town/Kings Cross. What was formerly the Millennium Dome, located by the Thames to the east of Canary Wharf, is now used as an entertainment venue called The O2 Arena.


Parks and Pardens

Aerial view of Hyde Park
Aerial view of Hyde Park

The largest parks in the central area of London are three of the Royal Parks, namely Hyde Park and its neighbour Kensington Gardens at the western edge of central London, and Regent’s Park on the northern edge. Regent’s Park contains London Zoo, the world’s oldest scientific zoo, and is located near the tourist attraction of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.

Closer to central London are the smaller Royal Parks of Green Park and St. James’s Park. Hyde Park in particular is popular for sports and sometimes hosts open-air concerts. A number of large parks lie outside the city centre, including the remaining Royal Parks of Greenwich Park to the south-east and Bushy Park and Richmond Park (the largest) to the south-west, as well as Victoria Park, London to the east. Primrose Hill to the north of Regent’s Park is a popular spot to view the city skyline.

Some more informal, semi-natural open spaces also exist, including the 320-hectare (790-acre) Hampstead Heath of North London. This incorporates Kenwood House, the former stately home and a popular location in the summer months where classical musical concerts are held by the lake, attracting thousands of people every weekend to enjoy the music, scenery and fireworks.

Demography


2011 United Kingdom CensusWith increasing industrialisation, London’s population grew rapidly throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, and it was for some time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the most populous city in the world until overtaken by New York in 1925. Its population peaked at 8,615,245 in 1939 immediately before the outbreak of the Second World War, but had declined to 7,192,091 at the 2001 Census. However, the population then grew by just over a million between the 2001 and 2011 Censuses, to reach 8,173,941 in the latter enumeration.

However, London’s continuous urban area extends beyond the borders of Greater London and was home to 9,787,426 people in 2011, while its wider metropolitan area has a population of between 12 and 14 million depending on the definition used. According to Eurostat, London is the most populous city and metropolitan area of the European Union and the second most populous in Europe (or third if Istanbul is included). During the period 1991–2001 a net 726,000 immigrants arrived in London.

The region covers an area of 1,579 square kilometres (610 sq mi). The population density is 5,177 inhabitants per square kilometre (13,410 /sq mi), more than ten times that of any other British region. In terms of population, London is the 19th largest city and the 18th largest metropolitan region in the world. It is also ranked 4th in the world in number of billionaires (United States Dollars) residing in the city. London ranks as one of the most expensive cities in the world, alongside Tokyo and Moscow.


Ethnic Groups

According to the Office for National Statistics, based on the 2011 Census estimates,

  • 59.8% of the 8,173,941 inhabitants of London were White, with
  • 44.9% White British,
  • 2.2% White Irish,
  • 0.1% gypsy/Irish traveler and
  • 12.1% classified as Other White.
  • 20.9% of Londoners are of Asian and mixed-Asian descent.
  • 19.7% of Londoners are of full Asian descent, with those of mixed-Asian heritage comprising 1.2 of the population.
  • Indians account for 6.6% of the population, followed by
  • Pakistanis and Bangladeshis at 2.7% each.
  • Chinese peoples account for 1.5% of the population, with
  • Arabs comprising 1.3%.
  • A further 4.9% of Londoners are classified as “Other Asian”.

15.6% of London’s population are of Black and mixed-Black descent. 13.3% of Londoners are of full Black descent, with those of mixed-Black heritage comprising 2.3% of the population. Black Africans account for 7.0% of London’s population, with 4.2% as Black Caribbean and 2.1% as “Other Black”. 5% of Londoners are of mixed race.

Across London, Black and Asian children outnumber White British children by about six to four in state schools. However, White children represented 62% of London’s 1,498,700 population aged 0 to 15 according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics from 2009, with 55.7% of the population aged 0 to 15 being White British, 0.7% being White Irish and 5.6% being from other EU White backgrounds. In January 2005, a survey of London’s ethnic and religious diversity claimed that there were more than 300 languages spoken and more than 50 non-indigenous communities which have a population of more than 10,000 in London. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that, in 2010, London’s foreign-born population was 2,650,000 (33%), up from 1,630,000 in 1997.

The 2011 census showed that 36.7% of Greater London’s population were born outside the UK. The table to the right shows the 20 most common foreign countries of birth of London residents in 2011, the date of the last published UK Census. A portion of the German-born population are likely to be British nationals born to parents serving in the British Armed Forces in Germany. Estimates produced by the Office for National Statistics indicate that the five largest foreign-born groups living in London in the period July 2009 to June 2010 were those born in India, Poland, the Republic of Ireland, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

Religion


St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral

According to the 2011 Census, the largest religious groupings are Christians (48.4 per cent), followed by those of no religion (20.7 per cent), Muslims (12.4 per cent), no response (8.5 per cent), Hindus (5.0 per cent), Jews (1.8 per cent), Sikhs (1.5 per cent), Buddhists (1.0 per cent) and other (0.6 per cent).

Religion in LondonLondon has traditionally been Christian, and has a large number of churches, particularly in the City of London. The well-known St Paul’s Cathedral in the City and Southwark Cathedral south of the river are Anglican administrative centres, while the Archbishop of Canterbury, principal bishop of the Church of England and worldwide Anglican Communion, has his main residence at Lambeth Palace in the London Borough of Lambeth.

Important national and royal ceremonies are shared between St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey. The Abbey is not to be confused with nearby Westminster Cathedral, which is the largest Roman Catholic cathedral in England and Wales. Despite the prevalence of Anglican churches, observance is very low within the Anglican denomination. Church attendance continues on a long, slow, steady decline, according to Church of England statistics.

London is also home to sizeable Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Jewish communities. Many Muslims live in Tower Hamlets and Newham; the most important Muslim edifice is London Central Mosque on the edge of Regent’s Park. Following the oil boom, increasing numbers of wealthy Middle-Eastern Muslims have based themselves around Mayfair and Knightsbridge in west London. London is home to the largest mosque in western Europe, the Baitul Futuh Mosque, of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. London’s large Hindu community is found in the north-western boroughs of Harrow and Brent, the latter of which is home to Europe’s largest Hindu temple, Neasden Temple. London is also home to 42 Hindu temples. Sikh communities are located in East and West London, which is also home to the largest Sikh temple in the world outside India.

The majority of British Jews live in London, with significant Jewish communities in Stamford Hill, Stanmore, Golders Green, Finchley, Hampstead, Hendon and Edgware in North London. Bevis Marks Synagogue in the City of London is affiliated to London’s historic Sephardic Jewish community. It is the only synagogue in Europe which has held regular services continuously for over 300 years. Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue has the largest membership of any single Orthodox synagogue in the whole of Europe, overtaking Ilford synagogue (also in London) in 1998. The community set up the London Jewish Forum in 2006 in response to the growing significance of devolved London Government.

Economy


The City of London is the largest financial centre in the world

The City of London is the largest financial centre in the world

London generates approximately 20 per cent of the UK’s GDP (or $446 billion in 2005); while the economy of the London metropolitan area—the largest in Europe—generates approximately 30 per cent of the UK’s GDP (or an estimated $669 billion in 2005). London is one of the pre-eminent financial centres of the world and vies with New York City as the most important location for international finance.

Canary Wharf is a major business and financial centre and is home to some of the UK's tallest buildings

Canary Wharf is a major business and financial centre and is home to some of the UK’s tallest buildings

London’s largest industry is finance, and its financial exports make it a large contributor to the UK’s balance of payments. Around 325,000 people were employed in financial services in London until mid-2007. London has over 480 overseas banks, more than any other city in the world. Over 85% (3.2 million) of the employed population of greater London works in the services industries. Because of its prominent global role, London’s economy has been affected by the Late-2000s financial crisis. The City of London estimates that 70,000 jobs in finance will be cut within a year. The City of London is home to the Bank of England, London Stock Exchange, and Lloyd’s of London insurance market.

Over half of the UK’s top 100 listed companies (the FTSE 100) and over 100 of Europe’s 500 largest companies have their headquarters in central London. Over 70 per cent of the FTSE 100 are located within London’s metropolitan area, and 75 per cent of Fortune 500 companies have offices in London.

Along with professional services, media companies are concentrated in London and the media distribution industry is London’s second most competitive sector. The BBC is a significant employer, while other broadcasters also have headquarters around the City. Many national newspapers are edited in London. London is a major retail centre and in 2010 had the highest non-food retail sales of any city in the world, with a total spend of around £64.2 billion. The Port of London is the second-largest in the United Kingdom, handling 45 million tonnes of cargo each year.

London has five major business districts: the City, Westminster, Canary Wharf, Camden & Islington and Lambeth & Southwark. One way to get an idea of their relative importance is to look at relative amounts of office space: Greater London had 27 million m2 of office space in 2001, and the City contains the most space, with 8 million m2 of office space. London has some of the highest real estate prices in the world.

Tourism


London is a popular centre for tourism, one of its prime industries, employing the equivalent of 350,000 full-time workers in 2003, while annual expenditure by tourists is around £15 billion. London attracts over 14 million international visitors per year, making it Europe’s most visited city. London attracts 27 million overnight-stay visitors every year. In 2010 the ten most-visited attractions in London were:

  1. British Museum
  2. Tate Modern
  3. National Gallery
  4. Natural History Museum
  5. London Eye
  6. Science Museum
  7. Victoria and Albert Museum
  8. Madame Tussauds
  9. National Maritime Museum
  10. Tower of London

Transport


A black London taxi, also known as a hackney carriage.

A black London taxi, also known as a hackney carriage.

Transport is one of the four main areas of policy administered by the Mayor of London, however the mayor’s financial control does not extend to the longer distance rail network that enters London. In 2007 he assumed responsibility for some local lines, which now form the London Overground network, adding to the existing responsibility for the London Underground, trams and buses. The public transport network is administered by Transport for London (TfL) and is one of the most extensive in the world. Cycling is an increasingly popular way to get around London. The London Cycling Campaign lobbies for better provision.

The lines that formed the London Underground, as well as trams and buses, became part of an integrated transport system in 1933 when the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) or London Transport was created. Transport for London (TfL), is now the statutory corporation responsible for most aspects of the transport system in Greater London, and is run by a board and a commissioner appointed by the Mayor of London.

Air

Heathrow (Terminal 5 pictured) is the busiest airport in the world for international traffic

Heathrow (Terminal 5 pictured) is the busiest airport in the world for international traffic

London is a major international air transport hub with the largest city airspace in the world. Eight airports use the word London in their name, but most traffic passes through six of these. London Heathrow Airport, in Hillingdon, West London, is the busiest airport in the world for international traffic, and is the major hub of the nation’s flag carrier, British Airways. In March 2008 its fifth terminal was opened. There were plans for a third runway and a sixth terminal however these were cancelled by the Coalition Government on 12 May 2010. In September 2011 a personal rapid transit system was opened at Heathrow to connect to a nearby car park.

Similar traffic, with the addition of some low-cost short-haul flights, is also handled at Gatwick Airport, located south of London in West Sussex.

Stansted Airport, situated north east of London in Essex, is the main UK hub for Ryanair and Luton Airport to the north of London in Bedfordshire, caters mostly for low-cost short-haul flights. London City Airport, the smallest and most central airport, is focused on business travellers, with a mixture of full service short-haul scheduled flights and considerable business jet traffic.

London Southend Airport, east of London in Essex, is a smaller, regional airport that mainly caters for low-cost short-haul flights. It recently went through a large redevelopment project including a brand new terminal, extended runway and a new railway station offering fast links into the capital. EasyJet have a base at the airport.

Buses and Trams

The red double-decker bus is an iconic symbol of London
The red double-decker bus is an iconic symbol of London

London’s bus network is one of the largest in the world, running 24 hours a day, with 8,000 buses, 700 bus routes, and over 6 million passenger journeys made every weekday. In 2003, the network had an estimated 1.5 billion commuter trips per annum, more than the Underground. Around £850 million is taken in revenue each year. London has the largest wheelchair accessible network in the world and, from the 3rd quarter of 2007, became more accessible to hearing and visually impaired passengers as audio-visual announcements were introduced. The distinctive red double-decker buses are internationally recognised, and are a trademark of London transport along with black cabs and the Tube.

London has a modern tram network, known as Tramlink, based in Croydon in South London. The network has 39 stops, three routes and carried 26.5 million people in 2008. Since June 2008 Transport for London has completely owned Tramlink and plans to spend £54m by 2015 on maintenance, renewals, upgrades and capacity enhancements. Since April 2009 all trams have been refurbished.

Cycling

Cycling in London has enjoyed a renaissance since the turn of the Millennium. Cyclists enjoy a cheaper, and often quicker, way around town than those using public transport or cars, and the launch of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme in July 2010 has been successful and generally well received.

Port

From being the largest port in the world, the Port of London is now only the second-largest in the United Kingdom, handling 45 million tonnes of cargo each year. Most of this actually passes through the Port of Tilbury, outside the boundary of Greater London.

Rail

The London Underground is the world's oldest and second-longest rapid transit system

The London Underground is the world’s oldest and second-longest rapid transit system

The London Underground — all of which is now commonly referred to as the Tube, though originally this designation referred only to the deep-level lines, as distinct from the sub-surface lines — is the oldest, and second longest metro system in the world, dating from 1863. The system serves 270 stations and was formed from several private companies, including the world’s first underground electric line, the City and South London Railway.

Over three million journeys are made every day on the Underground network, over 1 billion each year. An investment programme is attempting to address congestion and reliability problems, including £7 billion (€10 billion) of improvements planned for the 2012 Summer Olympics. London has been commended as the city with the best public transport. The Docklands Light Railway, which opened in 1987, is a second, more local metro system using smaller and lighter tram-type vehicles which serve Docklands and Greenwich.

There is an extensive above-ground suburban railway network, particularly in South London, which has fewer Underground lines. London houses Britain’s busiest station – Waterloo, with over 184 million people using the interchange station complex (which includes Waterloo East station) each year. The stations have services to South East and South West London, and also parts of South East and South West England. Most rail lines terminate around the centre of London, running into eighteen terminal stations with the exception of the Thameslink trains connecting Bedford in the north and Brighton in the south via Luton and Gatwick airports.

Since 2007 high-speed Eurostar trains link St. Pancras International with Lille, Paris, and Brussels. Journey times to Paris and Brussels of two-and-a-quarter hours and one hour 50 minutes respectively make London closer to continental Europe than the rest of Britain by virtue of the High Speed 1 rail link to the Channel Tunnel while the first high speed domestic trains started in June 2009 linking Kent to London.

Roads

The A102, near Greenwich. This was one of the few routes proposed in the Ringways Plan within Inner London to be built.

The A102, near Greenwich. This was one of the few routes proposed in the Ringways Plan within Inner London to be built.

Although the majority of journeys involving central London are made by public transport, car travel is common in the suburbs. The inner ring road (around the city centre), the North and South Circular roads (in the suburbs), and the outer orbital motorway (the M25, outside the built-up area) encircle the city and are intersected by a number of busy radial routes—but very few motorways penetrate into inner London. The M25 is the longest ring-road motorway in the world at 195.5 km (121.5 mi) long. The A1 and M1 connect London to Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle.

A plan for a comprehensive network of motorways throughout the city (the Ringways Plan) was prepared in the 1960s but was mostly cancelled in the early 1970s. In 2003, a congestion charge was introduced to reduce traffic volumes in the city centre. With a few exceptions, motorists are required to pay £10 per day to drive within a defined zone encompassing much of congested central London. Motorists who are residents of the defined zone can buy a vastly reduced season pass which is renewed monthly and is cheaper than a corresponding bus fare. London is notorious for its traffic congestion, with the M25 motorway the busiest stretch in the country. The average speed of a car in the rush hour is 10.6 mph (17.1 km/h). London government initially anticipated the Congestion Charge Zone to increase daily peak period Underground and bus users by 20,000 people, reduce traffic by 10 to 15 per cent, increase traffic speeds by 10 to 15 per cent, and reduce queues by 20 to 30 per cent. Over the course of several years, the average number of cars entering the centre of London on a weekday was reduced from 195,000 to 125,000 cars – this is a 35-per-cent reduction of vehicles driven per day.

Education


Tertiary Education

University College London
University College London

London is a major centre of higher education teaching and research and its 43 universities form the largest concentration of higher education in Europe. In 2008/09 it had a higher education student population of around 412,000 (approximately 17 per cent of the UK total), of whom around 287,000 were registered for undergraduate degrees and 118,000 were studying at postgraduate level. In 2008/09 there were around 97,150 international students in London, approximately 25 per cent of all international students in the UK.

A number of world-leading education institutions are based in London. In the 2012 QS World University Rankings, University College London (UCL) is ranked 4th in the world, Imperial College London 6th, and King’s College London 26th. The London School of Economics has been described as the world’s leading social science institution for both teaching and research. The London Business School is considered one of the world’s leading business schools and in 2010 its MBA programme was ranked best in the world by the Financial Times.

The front façade of the Royal College of Music

The front façade of the Royal College of Music

With 125,000 students, the federal University of London is the largest contact teaching university in Europe. It includes four large multi-faculty universities – King’s College London, Queen Mary, Royal Holloway and UCL – and a number of smaller and more specialised institutions including Birkbeck, the Courtauld Institute of Art, Goldsmiths, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Institute of Education, the London Business School, the London School of Economics, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Royal Academy of Music, the Central School of Speech and Drama, the Royal Veterinary College and the School of Oriental and African Studies. Members of the University of London have their own admissions procedures, and some award their own degrees.

There are a number of universities in London which are outside of the University of London system, including Brunel University, City University London, Imperial College London, Kingston University, London Metropolitan University (with over 34,000 students, the largest unitary university in London), London South Bank University, Middlesex University, University of the Arts London (the largest university of art, design, fashion, communication and the performing arts in Europe), University of East London, the University of West London and the University of Westminster. In addition there are three international universities in London – Regent’s College, Richmond University and Schiller International University.

London is home to five major medical schools – Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry (part of Queen Mary), King’s College London School of Medicine (the largest medical school in Europe), Imperial College School of Medicine, UCL Medical School and St George’s, University of London – and has a large number of affiliated teaching hospitals. It is also a major centre for biomedical research, and three of the UK’s five academic health science centres are based in the city – Imperial College Healthcare, King’s Health Partners and UCL Partners (the largest such centre in Europe). There are a number of business schools in London, including Cass Business School (part of City University London), ESCP Europe, European Business School London, Imperial College Business School and the London Business School. London is also home to many specialist arts education institutions, including the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, the London Contemporary Dance School, RADA, the Royal College of Art, the Royal College of Music and Trinity Laban.

Primary and Secondary Education

The majority of primary and secondary schools in London are state schools and are controlled by the London boroughs, although there are also a number of private schools in London, including old and famous schools such as the City of London School, Harrow, St Paul’s School, University College School, Highgate School and Westminster School.

Culture


Accent

The London accent long ago acquired the Cockney label, and was similar to many accents of the South East of England. The accent of a 21st-century ‘Londoner’ varies widely; what is becoming more and more common amongst the under-30s however is some fusion of Cockney with a whole array of ‘ethnic’ accents, in particular Caribbean, which form an accent labelled Multicultural London English (MLE).

Leisure and Entertainment

Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus

Within the City of Westminster, the entertainment district of the West End has its focus around Leicester Square, where London and world film premieres are held, and Piccadilly Circus, with its giant electronic advertisements. London’s theatre district is here, as are many cinemas, bars, clubs and restaurants, including the city’s Chinatown district (in Soho), and just to the east is Covent Garden, an area housing speciality shops. The city is the home of Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose musicals have dominated the West End theatre since the late 20th century. The United Kingdom’s Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Royal Opera and English National Opera are based in London and perform at the Royal Opera House, the London Coliseum, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the Royal Albert Hall as well as touring the country.

Harrods in Knightsbridge

Harrods in Knightsbridge

Islington’s 1 mile (1.6 km) long Upper Street, extending northwards from the Angel, has more bars and restaurants than any other street in the United Kingdom. Europe’s busiest shopping area is Oxford Street, a shopping street nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) long, making it the longest shopping street in the United Kingdom. Oxford Street is home to vast numbers of retailers and department stores, including the world-famous Selfridges flagship store. Knightsbridge, home to the equally renowned Harrods department store, lies to the south-west.

London is home to designers Vivienne Westwood, Galliano, Stella McCartney, Manolo Blahnik, and Jimmy Choo among others; its renowned art and fashion schools make it an international centre of fashion alongside Paris, Milan and New York. London offers a great variety of cuisine as a result of its ethnically diverse population. Gastronomic centres include the Bangladeshi restaurants of Brick Lane and the Chinese food restaurants of Chinatown.

There is a variety of annual events, beginning with the relatively new New Year’s Day Parade, fireworks display at the London Eye, the world’s second largest street party, the Notting Hill Carnival is held during the late August Bank Holiday each year. Traditional parades include November’s Lord Mayor’s Show, a centuries-old event celebrating the annual appointment of a new Lord Mayor of the City of London with a procession along the streets of the City, and June’s Trooping the Colour, a formal military pageant performed by regiments of the Commonwealth and British armies to celebrate the Queen’s Official Birthday.

Literature, Film and Television

Sherlock Holmes Museum, Baker Street, London, bearing the number 221B
Sherlock Holmes Museum, Baker Street, London, bearing the number 221B

London has been the setting for many works of literature. The literary centres of London have traditionally been hilly Hampstead and (since the early 20th century) Bloomsbury. Writers closely associated with the city are the diarist Samuel Pepys, noted for his eyewitness account of the Great Fire, Charles Dickens, whose representation of a foggy, snowy, grimy London of street sweepers and pickpockets has been a major influence on people’s vision of early Victorian London, and Virginia Woolf, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the 20th century.

Keats House, where Keats wrote his Ode to a Nightingale. The village of Hampstead has historically been a literary centre in London.

Keats House, where Keats wrote his Ode to a Nightingale. The village of Hampstead has historically been a literary centre in London.

The pilgrims in Geoffrey Chaucer’s late 14th-century Canterbury Tales set out for Canterbury from London – specifically, from the Tabard inn, Southwark. William Shakespeare spent a large part of his life living and working in London; his contemporary Ben Jonson was also based there, and some of his work—most notably his play The Alchemist—was set in the city. A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) by Daniel Defoe is a fictionalisation of the events of the 1665 Great Plague. Later important depictions of London from the 19th and early 20th centuries are Dickens’ novels, and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. Modern writers pervasively influenced by the city include Peter Ackroyd, author of a “biography” of London, and Iain Sinclair, who writes in the genre of psychogeography.

London has played a significant role in the film industry, and has major studios at Ealing and a special effects and post-production community centred in Soho. Working Title Films has its headquarters in London. London has been the setting for films including Oliver Twist (1948), Peter Pan (1953), The Ladykillers (1955), The 101 Dalmatians (1961), Mary Poppins (1964), Blowup (1966), The Long Good Friday (1980), Secrets & Lies (1996), Notting Hill (1999), Match Point (2005), V For Vendetta (2005) and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (2008). London is a major centre for television production, with studios including BBC Television Centre, The Fountain Studios and The London Studios. Many television programmes have been set in London, including the popular television soap opera EastEnders, broadcast by the BBC since 1985.

Museums and Art Galleries


The British Museum

The British Museum

London is home to many museums, galleries, and other institutions, many of which are free of admission charges and are major tourist attractions as well as playing a research role. The first of these to be established was the British Museum in Bloomsbury, in 1753. Originally containing antiquities, natural history specimens and the national library, the museum now has 7 million artefacts from around the globe. In 1824 the National Gallery was founded to house the British national collection of Western paintings; this now occupies a prominent position in Trafalgar Square. In the latter half of the 19th century the locale of South Kensington was developed as “Albertopolis”, a cultural and scientific quarter. Three major national museums are located there: the Victoria and Albert Museum (for the applied arts), the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. The national gallery of British art is at Tate Britain, originally established as an annexe of the National Gallery in 1897. The Tate Gallery, as it was formerly known, also became a major centre for modern art; in 2000 this collection moved to Tate Modern, a new gallery housed in the former Bankside Power Station.

Music


The Royal Albert Hall hosts concerts and musical events

The Royal Albert Hall hosts concerts and musical events

London is one of the major classical and popular music capitals of the world and is home to major music corporations, such as EMI, as well as countless bands, musicians and industry professionals. The city is also home to many orchestras and concert halls, such as the Barbican Arts Centre (principal base of the London Symphony Orchestra), Cadogan Hall (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) and the Royal Albert Hall (The Proms). London’s two main opera houses are the Royal Opera House and the Coliseum Theatre. The UK’s largest pipe organ can be found at the Royal Albert Hall. Other significant instruments are found at the cathedrals and major churches. Several conservatoires are located within the city: Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Trinity College of Music.

Abbey Road Studios, 3 Abbey Road, St John's Wood, City of Westminster, London

Abbey Road Studios, 3 Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, City of Westminster, London

London has numerous venues for rock and pop concerts, including large arenas such as Earls Court, Wembley Arena and the O2 Arena, as well as many mid-sized venues, such as Brixton Academy, the Hammersmith Apollo and the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Several music festivals, including the Wireless Festival, are held in London. The city is home to the first and original Hard Rock Cafe and the Abbey Road Studios where The Beatles recorded many of their hits. In the 1970s and 1980s, musicians and groups like Elton John, David Bowie, Queen, Elvis Costello, Cat Stevens, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Electric Light Orchestra, Madness, The Jam, The Small Faces, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Fleetwood Mac, The Police, The Cure, Cream, Phil Collins and Sade, took the world by storm, deriving their sound from the streets and rhythms vibrating through London.

London was instrumental in the development of punk music, with figures such as the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Vivienne Westwood all based in the city. More recent artists to emerge from the London music scene include George Michael, Bananarama, Bush, East 17, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Spice Girls, Jamiroquai, Blur, The Prodigy, The Libertines, Babyshambles, Bloc Party, Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, Amy Winehouse and Adele. London is also a centre for urban music. In particular the genres UK garage, drum and bass, dubstep and grime evolved in the city from the foreign genres of hip hop and reggae, alongside local drum and bass. Black music station BBC Radio 1Xtra was set up to support the rise of home-grown urban music both in London and in the rest of the UK.

Sports


Centre Court at the All England Club hosting a Wimbledon Championships match in 2010.

Centre Court at the All England Club hosting a Wimbledon Championships match in 2010.

London has hosted the Summer Olympics three times: in 1908, 1948, and 2012. London was chosen in July 2005 to host the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, making it the first city to host the modern Games three times. London was also the host of the British Empire Games in 1934. London will host the 2017 World Championships in Athletics.

Wembley Stadium viewed from Wembley Way

Wembley Stadium viewed from Wembley Way

London’s most popular sport is football and it has fourteen League football clubs, including six in the Premier League: Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur, and West Ham United. In May 2012 Chelsea become the first London club to win the UEFA Champions League.

London also has five rugby union teams in the Aviva Premiership (London Irish, Saracens, Wasps, London Welsh and Harlequins), although only Harlequins and Saracens play in London (all the other three now play outside Greater London). The other professional rugby union team in the city is RFU Championship club London Scottish, that play home matches in the city. The city has other very traditional rugby union clubs, famously Richmond F.C., Rosslyn Park F.C., Westcombe Park R.F.C. and Blackheath F.C..

There are three professional rugby league clubs in London – London Broncos who play in the European Super League at The Stoop and the Championship One side the London Skolars (based in Wood Green, London Borough of Haringey) Hemel Stags based in Hemel Hempstead, north of London will play in the Championship One from 2013.

From 1924, the original Wembley Stadium was the home of the English national football team, and served as the venue for the FA Cup final as well as rugby league’s Challenge Cup final. The new Wembley Stadium serves exactly the same purposes and has a capacity of 90,000. Twickenham Stadium in south-west London is the national rugby union stadium, and has a capacity of 84,000 now that the new south stand has been completed.

Cricket in London is served by two Test cricket grounds Lord’s (home of Middlesex C.C.C.) in St John’s Wood and the Oval (home of Surrey C.C.C.) in Kennington. Lord’s has hosted four finals of the Cricket World Cup. One of London’s best-known annual sports competitions is the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, held at the All England Club in the south-western suburb of Wimbledon. Other key events are the annual mass-participation London Marathon which sees some 35,000 runners attempt a 26.2 miles (42.2 km) course around the city, and the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race on the River Thames between Putney and Mortlake.

The London Commuter Belt contains many internationally recognised golf courses such as, among others, Wentworth Golf Club and Sunningdale Golf Club.


 

Windemere

Windermere – Lake District National Park, UK

GB2-100GB3-100

I LOVE UNITED KINGDOM

Windermere

800px-Windermere_Lake_District_from_hill
View of Windermere
Location Lake District National Park
Coordinates 54°21′30″N 2°56′10″WCoordinates: 54°21′30″N 2°56′10″W
Type Ribbon Mere
Primary inflows Brathay, Rothay, Trout Beck, Cunsey Beck
Primary outflows River Leven
Basin countries United Kingdom
Max. length 18.08 kilometres (11.23 mi)
Max. width 1.49 kilometres (0.93 mi)
Surface area 14.73 square kilometres (5.69 sq mi) or 1,473 hectares (3,640 acres)
Max. depth 66.76 metres (219.0 ft)
Surface elevation 39 metres (128 ft)
Islands 18 (Belle Isle, see list)

Windermere is the largest natural lake in England. It is a ribbon lake formed in a glacial trough after the retreat of ice at the start of the current interglacial. It has been one of the country’s most popular places for holidays and summer homes since the arrival of the Kendal and Windermere Railway‘s branch line in 1847. It is in the county of Cumbria and entirely within the Lake District National Park. Windermere has also been the venue for the Great North Swim since 2008.

Etymology

800px-Lake_Windermere_on_a_misty_morning

Windermere on a misty morning

The word “Windermere” is thought to translate as “Winand or Vinand’s lake”. “The specific has usually been identified with an Old Swed.[ish] pers.[onal] n.[ame] ‘Vinandr’, gen. sing. ‘Vinandar’, the -ar’ being preserved as ‘-er-‘ in the modern name … but this is rather disconcerting since the pers. n. is of very restricted distribution even in Sweden.” The other possibility is “for a Continental Germanic pers. n. ‘Wīnand’. Since this name could not have been current until the 12th century, the fact that the ON [Old Norse] gen. sing. ‘-ar-‘ has been added to it would suggest that ON still survived as a living language at that time.” The second element is Old English ‘mere’, meaning ‘lake’ or ‘pool’. It was known as “Winander Mere” or “Winandermere” until at least the 19th century.

Its name suggests it is a mere, a lake that is broad in relation to its depth, but despite the name this is not the case for Windermere, which in particular has a noticeable thermocline, distinguishing it from typical meres. Until the 19th century, the term “lake” was, indeed, not much used by or known to the native inhabitants of the area, who referred to it as Windermere/Winandermere Water, or (in their dialect) Windermer Watter. The name Windermere or Windermer was used of the parish that had clearly taken its name from the water. The poet Norman Nicholson comments on the use of the phrase ‘Lake Windermere’: “a certain excuse for the tautology can be made in the case of Windermere, since we need to differentiate between the lake and the town, though it would be better to speak of ‘Windermere Lake’ and Windermere Town’, but no one can excuse such ridiculous clumsiness as ‘Lake Derwentwater’ and ‘Lake Ullswater.”

The extensive parish included most of Undermilnbeck (that is, excepting Winster and the part of Crook chapelry that lay west of the Gilpin, which were part of Kirkby Kendal parish), Applethwaite, Troutbeck and Ambleside-below-Stock, that is, the part of Ambleside that lay south of Stock Beck. The parish church was at Bowness in Undermilnbeck.

Geography

186px-Windermere2croped3

A map of the lake from 1925

Windermere is a ribbon lake. (Ribbon lakes are long, narrow and finger-like.) It was formed 13,000 years ago during the last major ice age by two glaciers, one from the Troutbeck valley and the other from the Fairfield Horseshoe. When the glaciers melted the lake filled with the meltwater, which was held in by moraine (rock material) deposited by the glaciers.

The lake is drained from its southernmost point by the River Leven. It is replenished by the rivers Brathay, Rothay, Trout Beck, Cunsey Beck and several other lesser streams. The lake is largely surrounded by foothills of the Lake District which provide pleasant low-level walks; to the north and north-east are the higher fells of central Lakeland.

There is debate as to whether the stretch of water between Newby Bridge and Lakeside at the southern end of the lake should be considered part of Windermere, or a navigable stretch of the River Leven. This affects the stated length of the lake, which is 18.08 kilometres (11.23 mi) long if measured from the bridge at Newby Bridge, or 16.9 kilometres (10.5 mi) if measured from Lakeside. The lake varies in width up to a maximum of 1.49 kilometres (0.93 mi), and covers an area of 14.73 square kilometres (5.69 sq mi). With a maximum depth of 66.7 metres (219 ft) and an elevation above sea level of 39 metres (128 ft), the lowest point of the lake bed is well below sea level.

There is only one town or village directly on the lakeshore, Bowness-on-Windermere, as the village of Windermere does not directly touch the lake and the centre of Ambleside is a mile to the north of Waterhead. The village of Windermere is about 20 minutes walk from Millerground, the nearest point on the lakeshore. It did not exist before the arrival of the railway in 1847. The station was built in an area of open fell and farmland in the township of Applethwaite. The nearest farm was Birthwaite, which gave its name to the station and the village that began to grow up near it. In about 1859, the residents began to call their new village by the name of Windermere, much to the chagrin of the people of Bowness, which had been the centre of the parish of Windermere for many centuries. Since 1907 the two places have been under one council and, although there are still two separate centres, the area between is largely built up, albeit bordering on woodland and open fields. Windermere railway station is a hub for train and bus connections to the surrounding areas. There is a regular train service to Oxenholme on the West Coast Main Line, where there are fast trains to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester Airport, Birmingham and London.

Islands

The lake contains 18 islands. By far the largest is the privately owned Belle Isle (16.18 hectares (40.0 acres)) opposite Bowness and around a kilometre in length. Its older name was Lang Holme, and 800 years ago it was the centre of the manor of Windermere and later, in effect, of a moiety of the barony of Kendal.

The other islands or “holmes” are considerably smaller. The word “holme” or “holm” means small island or islet and comes from Old Norse. The island of Lady Holme is named after the chantry that formerly stood there and in former centuries was sometimes called St Mary Holme or just Mary Holme. The remaining islands are Bee Holme (the insular status of which depends on the water level), Blake Holme, Crow Holme, Birk or Birch Holme (called Fir Holme on Ordnance Survey maps), Grass Holme, Lilies of the Valley (East, and West), Ling Holme (a rocky hump with a few trees and a growth of ling), Hawes Holme, Hen Holme (also rocky and sometimes known as Chair and Table Island from some old flags or slabs of stone that were formerly found there), Maiden Holme (the smallest island, with just one tree), Ramp Holme (variously called Roger Holme and Berkshire Island at different times in its history), Rough Holme, Snake Holme, Thompson Holme (2nd largest), Silver Holme.

Natural history

A high percentage (29.4%) of the lake’s drainage area is under cultivation. The lake has a relatively low percentage of lake bed above 9 metres (30 ft) in depth which is rocky (28%). This makes Windermere a rich habitat. The main fish in the lake are trout, char, pike, and perch.

The north to south alignment of the lake, combined with its position between Morecambe Bay and the central fells, means that it forms a migration highway, with geese often seen in winter.

The Freshwater Biological Association was established on the shore of Windermere in 1929 and much of the early work on lake ecology, freshwater biology and limnology was conducted here.

Local government

Before 1974, the lake lay wholly within the county of Westmorland; however, the historic county boundary between Lancashire and Westmorland ran down the western shore of the lake and also along about three miles (5 km) of the southern section of the eastern shore. Anyone crossing the lake from east to west on the Windermere Ferry thus travels from the historic county of Westmorland to that of Lancashire.

Since local government reorganisation in 1974, Windermere and its shores have been entirely within the district of South Lakeland in the non-metropolitan county of Cumbria. Most planning matters concerned with the lake are, however, the responsibility of the Lake District National Park Authority.

Boating

Steamers, launches and ferries

Steam ferry on Windermere, circa 1895

Steam ferry on Windermere, circa 1895

The MV Swan on Windermere

The MV Swan on Windermere

The Tern on Windermere 1993

The Tern on Windermere 1993

Bowness-on-Windermere landing-station in 1961

Bowness-on-Windermere landing-station in 1961

Passenger services run the whole length of the lake, from Lakeside railway station, on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite heritage steam railway at the southern end of the lake, to Waterhead Bay near Ambleside in the north. Intermediate stops are made at Bowness and, by smaller launches only, at Brockhole. Some boats only operate part of the route, or operate out and back cruises, whilst others run the whole distance.

 

These services date back to the former Furness Railway, who built the Lakeside branch, and were at one time operated by British Rail, the former state-owned rail operator. Since privatisation, three of the old railway boats are operated by Windermere Lake Cruises Ltd, along with a fleet of smaller and more modern launches. Three of the original four boats survive: the MV Tern of 1891, the MV Teal of 1936, and the MV Swan of 1938. The fourth, MV Swift of 1900, was broken up at Lakeside in 1998. Her rudder and only one propeller are displayed at Bowness. Although often described as steamers, all are now diesel motor vessels. Tern and Swift were built with steam engines, but converted to diesel in the 1950s.

Windermere at Bowness

Windermere at Bowness

The Windermere Ferry, a vehicle-carrying cable ferry, runs across the lake from Ferry Nab on the eastern side of the lake to Far Sawrey on the western side of the lake. This service forms part of the B5285. There are also two summer only passenger ferries that cross the lake. One crosses from Lakeside station to Fell Foot Park at the southern end of the lake, whilst the other links Bowness with Far Sawrey.

Looking over Windermere

Looking over Windermere

Boat Clubs

There are four large boating clubs based around the lake: the Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club, the Lake District Boat Club, the Royal Windermere Yacht Club, and the Windermere Cruising Association. The Royal Windermere Yacht Club maintains a set of turning marks on the lake, which are also used by the Windermere Cruising Association. The Lake District Boat Club is a family orientated club open to all boat users on the lake, with premises located in Bowness the club house benefits from magnificent views of the lake and surrounding fells. The LDBC also run a full programme of both social and racing events (www.lakedistrictboatclub.co.uk). The Windermere Cruising Association organises the popular Winter Series. This event benefits from not being hindered by the large waves, caused by gales, that often lead to sea racing being cancelled. The WCA also have a full calendar of summer races which are open to all abilities.

At the south end of the lake is South Windermere Sailing Club, based at Fell Foot park on the east shore. It was started in 1961, as a family sailing club and has been the starting point for many successful British dinghy racing competitors including British, European and World Champions. The notoriously fluky wind on the lake has proved a successful training ground in learning to read the fast changing wind. SWSC celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2011 and has developed a strong junior section under the coaching of Julie Tomkinson who in 2011 was honoured with an RYA Community Award for Outstanding Contribution.

Speed Records

On Friday 13 June 1930, Sir Henry Segrave broke the world water speed record on Windermere in his boat, Miss England II at an average speed of 158.94 kilometres per hour (98.76 mph). On the third run over the course, off Belle Grange, the boat capsized. Segrave’s mechanic, Victor Helliwell drowned, but Segrave was rescued by support boats. He died a short time later of his injuries. Segrave was one of the few people in history who have held the world land speed record and water speed record simultaneously.

Racer Norman Buckley (powerboater) set several world water speed records on Windermere in the 1950s

Speed Limits

For many years, power-boating and water-skiing have been popular activities on the lake. In March 2000, the Lake District National Park Authority controversially introduced a bylaw setting a 10 knots (12 mph; 19 km/h) speed limit for all powered craft on the lake, in addition to three existing 6-mile-per-hour (5.2 kn) speed limits for all craft on the upper, lower, and middle sections of the lake. The bylaw came into force in 2000, but there was a five year transition period and the new speed limits were only enforced from 29 March 2005. Despite the speed limits people continue to use power-boats on the lake, both legally and illegally.

Many organisations, mainly those with an interest in sailing, support the limit, primarily on environmental grounds. Other benefits include restoring the tranquil nature of the lake and making it safer and more accessible for all users.

Opponents are concerned that there are no other inland waters in England where water sports and power boating are permitted, whilst sailing is permitted on many other inland waters. Another concern has been the effect on many local businesses of reduced visitor numbers. Many businesses have closed and tourist numbers, especially numbers of users on the lake, have severely dropped since the introduction of the speed limit.

There is controversy regarding the environmental benefits of the speed limitation. When powered craft “plane”, around 20 mph, they produce less of a wake. This has led opponents of the speed limit to argue that by limiting powerboats to 10 knots, more damage is being done per powerboat.

Windermere Steamboat Museum

Windermere Steamboat Museum is located on Rayrigg Road in Bowness, and includes a collection of vintage steam boats dating back to 1896, as well as information about Swallows and Amazons and the history of racing boats. The museum has been closed since 2006 as it awaits funding for refurbishment.

The long popularity of steam launches on Windermere has even given its name to the Windermere kettle, a steam-powered tea urn.

Windermere Water Bus

In 2005, the Windermere Management Strategy identified the potential for water bus services on the lake. In 2009, the Lake District National Park Authority commissioned a detailed study into the demand for such services. In July 2009, it was announced that Windermere Lake Cruises would be operating additional stops around the lake. In January 2012, the Park Authority launched a consultation on further expansion of the water bus service.

Popular culture

The children’s book Swallows and Amazons, and sequels Swallowdale and Winter Holiday, are based loosely on life before World War II around a fictional lake derived from a combination of Windermere and Coniston Water. The BBC made a series of Swallows and Amazons in 1962; parts of this were filmed at the boathouse of Huyton Hill Preparatory School (now Pullwood House)  on the North-West shore.

In the horror novel The Pike (1982) by Cliff Twemlow, a 12-foot (3.7 m) long pike in Windermere goes on a killing spree, and the consequence is a boom in the lake’s tourist trade. Two attempts have been made to film the novel.

Windermere and the surrounding countryside is the setting for mystery novelist Elizabeth George‘s 2012 book Believing the Lie, the 17th in the Inspector Lynley series.

The area is also featured as an arena in the popular arcade videogame Tekken.

In November 2009, several scenes were shot on Windermere for the soap opera Coronation Street. The filming centred around Pull Wyke Bay and Pull Wood House on the North-West shoreline. The scenes, featuring the newlyweds Gail and Joe on their honeymoon, were aired in January/February 2010.

Belle Isle features in The Wardstone Chronicles: The Spooks Mistake. Rather than the large house, though, Belle Isle plays host to a folly which is used by the Water Witches in the area.

Some people believe that there may be a lake monster, similar to the one alleged to live in Loch Ness, and anomalous photos have been taken of the supposed creature; it has been affectionately nicknamed “Bownessie.” The novel Giant Killer Eels by Stuart Neild is set in the Lake District and features Bownessie-like monsters in Windermere and Lake Unsworth.

Great North Swim

On Saturday 13 September 2008, Windermere hosted the inaugural Great North Swim, a one mile (1.6 km) open water swim involving 2,200 swimmers. The second annual swim took place on 12 and 13 September 2009, with 6000 swimmers, making this the largest open water swim in the UK. The 2010 swim was postponed due to the presence of blue-green algae in the lake. The 2011 swim is scheduled for 17 to 19 June 2011.

Source: Wikipedia. Windemere is one of  my favorite places during my stay in UK.