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Brighton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Brighton Palace Pier at dusk

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  • Sovereign state: United Kingdom
  • Constituent country: England
  • Region: South East England
  • Ceremonial county: East Sussex
  • Unitary authority: Brighton and Hove
  • Admin HQ: Hove Town Hall
  • Town charter: 1313
  • Incorporated 1854
  • Unitary authority: 1997
  • City status: 2000
  • Government
    • Type: Unitary authority
    • Governing body: Brighton and Hove City Council
    • Leader: Warren Morgan (Lab)
    • Mayor: Mo Marsh (Lab)
    • MPs: Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Lab, Brighton Kemptown), Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion)
  • Area
    • Total 31.97 sq mi (82.79 km2)
  • Population (mid-2016 est.)
    • Total 289,200 (Ranked 42nd)
    • Density 9,050/sq mi (3,493/km2)
  • Demonym(s): Brightonian
  • Time zone: GMT (UTC0)
    • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
  • Postcode area: BN
  • Area code(s): 01273
  • ISO: 3166-2 GB-BNH
  • ONS code: 00ML (ONS), E06000043 (GSS)
  • OS grid reference: TQ315065
  • NUTS: 3 UKJ21
  • Website: brighton-hove gov uk

Brighton /ˈbraɪtən/ (About this sound listen) is a seaside resort on the south coast of England.It is part of the city of Brighton and Hove and the ceremonial county of East Sussex, within the historic county of Sussex.

Archaeological evidence of settlement in the area dates back to the Bronze Age, Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods. The ancient settlement of “Brighthelmstone” was documented in the Domesday Book (1086). The town’s importance grew in the Middle Ages as the Old Town developed, but it languished in the early modern period, affected by foreign attacks, storms, a suffering economy and a declining population. Brighton began to attract more visitors following improved road transport to London and becoming a boarding point for boats travelling to France. The town also developed in popularity as a health resort for sea bathing as a purported cure for illnesses.

In the Georgian era, Brighton developed as a fashionable seaside resort, encouraged by the patronage of the Prince Regent, later King George IV, who spent much time in the town and constructed the Royal Pavilion in the Regency era. Brighton continued to grow as a major centre of tourism following the arrival of the railways in 1841, becoming a popular destination for day-trippers from London. Many of the major attractions were built in the Victorian era, including the Grand Hotel, the West Pier, and the Brighton Palace Pier. The town continued to grow into the 20th century, expanding to incorporate more areas into the town’s boundaries before joining the town of Hove to form the unitary authority of Brighton and Hove in 1997, which was granted city status in 2000.

Brighton’s location has made it a popular destination for tourists, renowned for its diverse communities, quirky shopping areas, large cultural, music and arts scene and its large LGBT population, leading to its recognition as the “unofficial gay capital of the UK”. Brighton attracted 7.5 million day visitors in 2015/16 and 4.9 million overnight visitors, and is the most popular seaside destination in the UK for overseas tourists. Brighton has also been called the UK’s “hippest city”, and “the happiest place to live in the UK”.

Contents
1 Etymology
2 History
3 Homelessness in Brighton
4 Geography and topography
4.1 Climate
4.2 Boundaries and areas
5 Governance and politics
6 Economy
6.1 Commerce and industry
6.2 Retail
7 Landmarks
7.1 Churches and places of worship
7.2 Beaches
8 Culture
8.1 Cinema
8.2 Festivals and rallies
8.3 Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community
8.4 Museums
8.5 Night-life and popular music
8.6 Notable residents
8.7 Restaurants
8.8 Theatre
9 Education
10 Sport
11 Transport

Etymology


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Queens Road, one of the oldest streets in Brighton

Brighton’s earliest name was Bristelmestune, recorded in the Domesday Book. Although more than 40 variations have been documented, Brighthelmstone (or Brighthelmston) was the standard rendering between the 14th and 18th centuries.

Brighton was originally an informal shortened form, first seen in 1660; it gradually supplanted the longer name, and was in general use from the late 18th century. Brighthelmstone was the town’s official name until 1810, though. The name is of Anglo-Saxon origin. Most scholars believe that it derives from Beorthelm + tūn—the homestead of Beorthelm, a common Old English name associated with villages elsewhere in England. The tūn element is common in Sussex, especially on the coast, although it occurs infrequently in combination with a personal name. An alternative etymology taken from the Old English words for “stony valley” is sometimes given but has less acceptance. Brighthelm gives its name to, among other things, a church and a pub in Brighton and some halls of residence at the University of Sussex. Writing in 1950, historian Antony Dale noted that unnamed antiquaries had suggested an Old English word “brist” or “briz”, meaning “divided”, could have contributed the first part of the historic name Brighthelmstone. The town was originally split in half by the Wellesbourne, a winterbourne which was culverted and buried in the 18th century.

Brighton has several nicknames. Poet Horace Smith called it “The Queen of Watering Places”, which is still widely used, and “Old Ocean’s Bauble”. Novelist William Makepeace Thackeray referred to “Doctor Brighton”, calling the town “one of the best of Physicians”. “London-by-Sea” is well-known, reflecting Brighton’s popularity with Londoners as a day-trip resort, a commuter dormitory and a desirable destination for those wanting to move out of the metropolis. “The Queen of Slaughtering Places”, a pun on Smith’s description, became popular when the Brighton trunk murders came to the public’s attention in the 1930s. The mid 19th-century nickname “School Town” referred to the remarkable number of boarding, charity and church schools in the town at the time.

History


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Brighton, The Front and the Chain Pier Seen in the Distance, Frederick William Woledge, 1840.

The first settlement in the Brighton area was Whitehawk Camp, a Neolithic encampment on Whitehawk Hill which has been dated to between 3500 BC and 2700 BC. It is one of six causewayed enclosures in Sussex. Archaeologists have only partially explored it, but have found numerous burial mounds, tools and bones, suggesting it was a place of some importance. There was also a Bronze Age settlement at Coldean. Brythonic Celts arrived in Britain in the 7th century BC, and an important Brythonic settlement existed at Hollingbury Camp on Hollingbury Hill. This Celtic Iron Age encampment dates from the 3rd or 2nd century BC and is circumscribed by substantial earthwork outer walls with a diameter of c. 1,000 feet (300 m). Cissbury Ring, roughly 10 miles (16 km) from Hollingbury, is suggested to have been the tribal “capital”.

Later, there was a Roman villa at Preston Village, a Roman road from London ran nearby, and much physical evidence of Roman occupation has been discovered locally. From the 1st century AD, the Romans built a number of villas in Brighton and Romano-British Brythonic Celts formed farming settlements in the area. After the Romans left in the early 4th century AD, the Brighton area returned to the control of the native Celts. Anglo-Saxons then invaded in the late 5th century AD, and the region became part of the Kingdom of Sussex, founded in 477 AD by king Ælle.

Anthony Seldon identified five phases of development in pre-20th century Brighton. The village of Bristelmestune was founded by these Anglo-Saxon invaders, probably in the early Saxon period. They were attracted by the easy access for boats, sheltered areas of raised land for building, and better conditions compared to the damp, cold and misty Weald to the north. By the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 it was a fishing and agricultural settlement, a rent of 4,000 herring was established, and its population was about 400. Its importance grew from the Norman era onwards. By the 14th century there was a parish church, a market and rudimentary law enforcement (the first town constable was elected in 1285). Sacked and burnt by French invaders in the early 16th century—the earliest depiction of Brighton, a painting of c. 1520, shows Admiral Pregent de Bidoux’s attack of June 1514—the town recovered strongly based on a thriving mackerel-fishing industry. The grid of streets in the Old Town (the present Lanes area) were well developed and the town grew quickly: the population rose from c. 1,500 in 1600 to c. 4,000 in the 1640s. By that time Brighton was Sussex’s most populous and important town. Having lost the Battle of Worcester, King Charles II, after hiding for 42 days in various places, fled on the evening of the 15th October 1651 in the “Surprise” from Brighthelmstone to his exile in Fécamp, France.

Over the next few decades, though, events severely affected its local and national standing, such that by 1730 “it was a forlorn town decidedly down on its luck”. More foreign attacks, storms (especially the devastating Great Storm of 1703), a declining fishing industry, and the emergence of nearby Shoreham as a significant port caused its economy to suffer. By 1708 other parishes in Sussex were charged rates to alleviate poverty in Brighton, and Daniel Defoe wrote that the expected £8,000 cost of providing sea defences was “more than the whole town was worth”. The population declined to 2,000 in the early 18th century.

From the 1730s, Brighton entered its second phase of development—one which brought a rapid improvement in its fortunes. The contemporary fad for drinking and bathing in seawater as a purported cure for illnesses was enthusiastically encouraged by Dr Richard Russell from nearby Lewes. He sent many patients to “take the cure” in the sea at Brighton, published a popular treatise[note 1] on the subject, and moved to the town soon afterwards (the Royal Albion, one of Brighton’s early hotels, occupies the site of his house). Others were already visiting the town for recreational purposes before Russell became famous, and his actions coincided with other developments which made Brighton more attractive to visitors. From the 1760s it was a boarding point for boats travelling to France; road transport to London was improved when the main road via Crawley was turnpiked in 1770; and spas and indoor baths were opened by other entrepreneurial physicians such as Sake Dean Mahomed and Anthony Relhan (who also wrote the town’s first guidebook).

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Photochrom of Brighton aquarium, 1890–1900

From 1780, development of the Georgian terraces had started, and the fishing village developed as the fashionable resort of Brighton. Growth of the town was further encouraged by the patronage of the Prince Regent (later King George IV) after his first visit in 1783. He spent much of his leisure time in the town and constructed the Royal Pavilion during the early part of his Regency. In this period the modern form of the name Brighton came into common use.

A permanent military presence was established in the city with the completion of Preston Barracks in 1793.

The arrival of the London and Brighton Railway in 1841 brought Brighton within the reach of day-trippers from London. The population grew from around 7,000 in 1801 to more than 120,000 by 1901. Many of the major attractions were built during the Victorian era, such as the Grand Hotel (1864), the West Pier (1866), and the Palace Pier (1899). Prior to either of these structures, the famous Chain Pier was built, to the designs of Captain Samuel Brown. It lasted from 1823 to 1896, and is featured in paintings by both Turner and Constable.

Because of boundary changes, the land area of Brighton expanded from 1,640 acres (7 km2) in 1854 to 14,347 acres (58 km2) in 1952. New housing estates were established in the acquired areas, including Moulsecoomb, Bevendean, Coldean and Whitehawk. The major expansion of 1928 also incorporated the villages of Patcham, Ovingdean and Rottingdean, and much council housing was built in parts of Woodingdean after the Second World War. In 1997, Brighton and Hove were joined to form the unitary authority of Brighton and Hove, which was granted city status by Queen Elizabeth II as part of the millennium celebrations in 2000.

Homelessness in Brighton


In 2016, Government figures analysed by the charity Shelter revealed that Brighton and Hove had the worst rate for homelessness outside London and is worse than some boroughs in the capital. Based on the Freedom of Information data there are 4,095 people sleeping rough or in emergency or temporary accommodation in the city, suggesting that one in 69 people in Brighton and Hove was homeless. In a charity report issued in November 2016, three areas in Brighton & Hove, East Brighton, Queen’s Park, and Moulsecoomb & Bevendean ranked in the top ten per cent nationally for deprivation.

Although deprivation in Brighton is distributed across the whole of the city it is more concentrated in some areas than others. The highest concentration of deprivation is in the Whitehawk, Moulsecoomb, and Hollingbury areas of the city but is also found around the St. James’s Street and Eastern Road areas. A 2015 government statistic showed that the area around Brighton’s Palace Pier roundabout and to the east towards St James’s Street in Kemptown is the seventh worst ‘living environment’ in England. On 19 January 2017, Brighton council announced they were looking at certain initiatives to try and alleviate some of the increasing homelessness seen on Brighton’s streets and were hoping to open the first in-house temporary housing for homeless people in the city.

Geography and Topography


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To the east of Brighton, chalk cliffs protected by a sea-wall rise from the beach.

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The underground Wellesbourne can rise to the surface during heavy rain, as in November 2000 when it flooded the London Road in Preston village.

Brighton lies between the South Downs and the English Channel to the north and south, respectively. The Sussex coast forms a wide, shallow bay between the headlands of Selsey Bill and Beachy Head; Brighton developed near the centre of this bay around a seasonal river, the Wellesbourne (or Whalesbone), which flowed from the South Downs above Patcham. This emptied into the English Channel at the beach near the East Cliff, forming “the natural drainage point for Brighton”.

Behind the estuary was a stagnant pond called the Pool or Poole, so named since the medieval era.[note 2] This was built over with houses and shops from 1793, when the Wellesbourne was culverted to prevent flooding, and only the name of the road (Pool Valley, originally Pool Lane) marks its site. One original house survives from the time of the pool’s enclosure. Behind Pool Valley is Old Steine (historically The Steyne), originally a flat and marshy area where fishermen dried their nets. The Wellesbourne occasionally reappears during times of prolonged heavy rain; author Mark Antony Lower referred to an early 19th-century drawing of the Royal Pavilion showing “quite a pool of water across the Steyne”.

Despite 16th-century writer Andrew Boorde’s claim that “Bryght-Hempston [is] among the noble ports and havens of the realm”, Brighton never developed as a significant port: rather, it was considered as part of Shoreham. Nevertheless, the descriptions “Port of Brighthelmston” or “Port of Brighton” were sometimes used between the 14th and 19th centuries, as for example in 1766 when its notional limits were defined for customs purposes.

The East Cliff runs for several miles from Pool Valley towards Rottingdean and Saltdean, reaching 24 metres (80 ft) above sea level. The soil beneath it, a mixture of alluvium and clay with some flint and chalk rubble, has experienced erosion for many years. The cliff itself, like the rest of Brighton’s soil, is chalk. Below this are thin layers of Upper and Lower Greensand separated by a thicker band of Gault clay. The land slopes upwards gradually from south to north towards the top of the Downs.

Main transport links developed along the floor of the Wellesbourne valley, from which the land climbs steeply—particularly on the east side. The earliest settlement was by the beach at the bottom of the valley, which was partly protected from erosion by an underwater shale-bar. Changes in sea level affected the foreshore several times: 40 acres (16 ha) disappeared in the first half of the 14th century, and the Great Storm of 1703 caused widespread destruction. The first sea defences were erected in 1723, and a century later a long sea-wall was built.

Climate

Brighton has a temperate climate: its Köppen climate classification is Cfb. It is characterised by mild, calm weather with high levels of sunshine, sea breezes and a “healthy, bracing air” attributed to the low level of tree cover. Average rainfall levels increase as the land rises: the 1958–1990 mean was 740 millimetres (29 in) on the seafront and about 1,000 millimetres (39 in) at the top of the South Downs above Brighton. Storms caused serious damage in 1703, 1806, 1824, 1836, 1848, 1850, 1896, 1910 and 1987. Snow is rare, but particularly severe falls were recorded in 1881 and 1967.

Climate data for Brighton

Climate data for Brighton

Average Sea Temperature

Average sea temperature

Boundaries and Areas

Boundaries and areas

At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, Brighton was in the Rape of Lewes and the Hundred of Welesmere. The new Hundred of Whalesbone, which covered the parishes of Brighton, West Blatchington, Preston and Hove, was formed in 1296. Parishes moved in and out several times, and by 1801 only Brighton and West Blatchington were included in the Hundred.

Brighton’s ecclesiastical and civil parish boundaries were coterminous until 1873. Since then, the latter have changed several times as the urban area has expanded. In its original form, Brighton covered about 1,640 acres (660 ha) between the English Channel, Hove, Preston, Ovingdean and Rottingdean. The civil parish was first extended from 31 October 1873, when 905 acres (366 ha) was annexed from Preston. Its ecclesiastical parish was not affected.

On 1 October 1923, 94 acres (38 ha) were added to Brighton from Patcham parish: Brighton Corporation was developing the Moulsecoomb council estate there at the time. On 1 April 1928, Brighton became a county borough and grew by nearly five times by adding Ovingdean and Rottingdean parishes in their entirety and parts of Falmer, Patcham and West Blatchington. From 1 April 1952, more of Falmer and part of the adjacent Stanmer parish were added; 20 years later, land and marine territory associated with the new Brighton Marina development also became part of Brighton. Except for a small addition of rural land in 1993 (from Pyecombe parish), Brighton Borough’s boundaries remained the same until it was joined to Hove Borough in 1997 to form the unitary authority of Brighton and Hove.

The old boundary between Brighton and Hove is most clearly seen on the seafront, where the King Edward Peace Statue (1912) straddles the border, and in a twitten called Boundary Passage which runs northwards from Western Road to Montpelier Road. There is a Grade II-listed parish boundary marker stone in this passageway. Between Western Road and the seafront, the boundary runs up Little Western Street (pavement on eastern side, in Brighton), but it is not visible. Northwards from Western Road, it runs to the west of Norfolk Road, Norfolk Terrace, Windlesham Road and Windlesham Gardens in the Montpelier area, then along the south side of Davigdor Road to Seven Dials. From there it runs along the west side of Dyke Road as far as Withdean Road in Withdean, at which point it crosses Dyke Road so that the section north of that is part of Hove parish. The boundary continues to follow Dyke Road towards Devil’s Dyke on the South Downs.

Panorama of Brighton seen from Tenantry Down to the east

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December 2013 panorama of Brighton seen from Tenantry Down (to the east).

Governance and Politics


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Brighton Town Hall dates from 1830.

Brighton is covered by two constituencies in the Parliament of the United Kingdom: Brighton Kemptown and Brighton Pavilion. Both are marginal constituencies which were held by Labour from 1997 to 2010. At the 2017 general election, Brighton Kemptown elected the Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, while Brighton Pavilion re-elected Caroline Lucas, the first Green Party MP elected to Westminster. In European elections, Brighton is part of the European Parliament constituency of South-East England.

As of 2017, there are 21 wards in the city of Brighton and Hove, of which 12 are in Brighton. Regency, St Peter’s & North Laine, Preston Park, Withdean, Patcham, Hollingdean & Stanmer and Hanover & Elm Grove are part of the Brighton Pavilion constituency; Moulsecoomb & Bevendean, Queen’s Park, East Brighton, Woodingdean and Rottingdean Coastal are covered by the Brighton Kemptown constituency.

The newly created Borough of Brighton consisted of six wards in 1854: St Nicholas, St Peter, Pier, Park, Pavilion and West. When the territory was extended to include part of Preston parish in 1873, the new area became a seventh ward named Preston. The seven were split into 14 in 1894: Hanover, Kemp Town (renamed King’s Cliff in 1908), Lewes Road, Montpelier, Pavilion, Pier, Preston, Preston Park, Queen’s Park, Regency, St John, St Nicholas, St Peter, and West. Preston ward was extended in 1923 to incorporate the area taken into the borough from Patcham parish in 1923 for the construction of the Moulsecoomb estate, and in 1928 the ward was divided into four: Hollingbury, Moulsecoomb, Preston and Preston Park. Elm Grove and Patcham wards were created at the same time, bringing the total to 19. There were further changes in 1952, 1955 and 1983, at which time there were 16 wards. This situation continued until 1 April 1997, when Hove and its wards became part of the new unitary authority of Brighton and Hove.

Brighton Town Hall occupies a large site in The Lanes. Medieval Brighthelmston had a town hall, although it was called the Townhouse and functioned more like a market hall. A later building (1727) known as the Town Hall was principally used as a workhouse. Work on the first purpose-built town hall began in 1830; Thomas Read Kemp laid the first stone, and Thomas Cooper designed it on behalf of the Brighton Town Commissioners (of which he was a member). Brighton Corporation spent £40,000 to extend it in 1897–99 to the Classical design of Brighton Borough Surveyor Francis May. Despite this, the building was too small for municipal requirements by the mid-20th century, and extra council buildings were built in various locations throughout Brighton Borough Council’s existence: the most recent, Bartholomew House and Priory House next to the town hall, were finished in 1987. The town hall ceased to be responsible solely for Brighton’s affairs when Brighton and Hove were united in 1997, but it is still used by Brighton & Hove City Council—particularly for weddings and civil ceremonies.

The presence of a British subsidiary of the United States arms company EDO Corporation on the Home Farm Industrial Estate in Moulsecoomb has been the cause of protests since 2004. The premises were significantly damaged in January 2009 when protesters broke in.

Economy


In 1985, the Borough Council described three “myths” about Brighton’s economy. Common beliefs were that most of the working population commuted to London every day; that tourism provided most of Brighton’s jobs and income; or that the borough’s residents were “composed entirely of wealthy theatricals and retired businesspeople” rather than workers. Brighton has been an important centre for commerce and employment since the 18th century. It is home to several major companies, some of which employ thousands of people locally; as a retail centre it is of regional importance; creative, digital and new media businesses are increasingly significant; and, although Brighton was never a major industrial centre, its railway works contributed to Britain’s rail industry in the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly in the manufacture of steam locomotives.

Since the amalgamation of Brighton and Hove, economic and retail data has been produced at a citywide level only. Examples of statistics include: Brighton and Hove’s tourism industry contributes £380m to the economy and employs 20,000 people directly or indirectly; the city has 9,600 registered companies; and a 2001 report identified it as one of five “supercities for the future”. In the past couple of years tourists to Brighton and Hove have fallen in numbers. Over 2016, day visitors to Brighton and Hove dropped by an average of 2,400 per day. In August 2017, new figures for the year showed Brighton’s tourism had fallen by a further 1% on the previous year.

Commerce and Industry

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Events at the Brighton Centre are important to Brighton’s economy.

Brighton’s largest private sector employer is American Express, whose European headquarters are at John Street. As of 2012, about 3,000 people work there. Planning permission to demolish the old Amex offices and build a replacement was granted in 2009, and work started in March 2010. Other major employers include Lloyds Bank, Asda (which has hypermarkets at Hollingbury and Brighton Marina), Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company and call-centre operator Inkfish. In 2012, it was reported that about 1,500 of Gatwick Airport’s 21,000 workers lived in the city of Brighton and Hove.

Brighton is a popular destination for conferences, exhibitions and trade fairs, and has had a purpose-built conference centre—the Brighton Centre—since 1977. Direct income from the Brighton Centre’s 160 events per year is £8 million,[note 4] and a further £50 million is generated indirectly by visitors spending money during their stay. Events range from political party conferences to concerts.

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The Hollingbury Industrial Estate has large industrial, commercial and retail buildings such as Sussex House (left) and Exion 27 (right).

The Hollingbury Industrial Estate is one of the largest such facilities in Brighton; in its early days about 6,000 people were employed, principally in industrial jobs, but in the late 20th and early 21st centuries its focus has switched to commercial and retail development, limiting Brighton’s potential for industrial growth. Brighton Corporation laid out the estate on 18 acres (7.3 ha) of land around Crowhurst Road in 1950. By 1956, large-scale employment was provided at a bakery, a typewriter factory and a machine tools manufacturer among others. Most of the large factories closed during the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s, employment fell to 1,000, and structural changes started in the mid-1980s with a move towards small-scale industrial units (the Enterprise Estate was finished in October 1985) and then retail warehouses. Asda’s superstore opened in November 1987, MFI followed two years later, and other retail units were built in the 1990s. Two large headquarters buildings were vacated in quick succession when British Bookshops left in March 2011 and The Argus newspaper moved out of its headquarters in 2012—although the Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company signed a contract to move its 1,250 employees into the latter building.

Brighton has a high density of businesses involved in the media sector, particularly digital or “new media”, and since the 1990s has been referred to as “Silicon Beach”. By 2007, over 250 new media business had been founded in Brighton. Brandwatch is a social media monitoring company based in offices near Brighton station. Computer game design company Black Rock Studio was founded in 1998 and was taken over by Disney Interactive Studios, who closed it down in 2011. The Gamer Network, whose portfolio of websites relating to computer gaming (including Eurogamer) and creative industries was founded in 1999, is based in Brighton.

By the early 21st century, the market for office accommodation in the city was characterised by fluctuating demand and a lack of supply of high-quality buildings. As an example, the Trafalgar Place development (c. 1990), “now considered a prime office location”, stood partly empty for a decade. Exion 27 (built in 2001), a high-tech, energy-efficient office development at Hollingbury, remained empty for several years and is still not in commercial use: it houses some administrative departments of the University of Brighton. It was Brighton’s first ultramodern commercial property and was intended for mixed commercial and industrial use, but its completion coincided with a slump in demand for high-tech premises.

Retail

The Lanes form a retail, leisure and residential area near the seafront, characterised by narrow alleyways following the street pattern of the original fishing village. The Lanes contain predominantly clothing stores, jewellers, antique shops, restaurants and pubs. The North Laine area is a retail, leisure and residential area immediately north of the Lanes. Its name derives from the Anglo-Saxon “Laine” meaning “fields”, although the misnomer “North Lanes” is often used to describe the area. The North Laine contains a mix of businesses dominated by cafés, independent and avant-garde shops, bars and theatres.

Churchill Square is a shopping centre with a floor space of 470,000 sq ft (44,000 m2) and over 80 shops, several restaurants and 1,600 car-parking spaces. It was built in the 1960s as an open-air, multi-level pedestrianised shopping centre, but was rebuilt and enlarged in 1998 and is no longer open-air. Further retail areas include Western Road and London Road, the latter of which is currently undergoing extensive regeneration in the form of new housing and commercial properties.

Landmarks


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Royal Pavilion

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Brighton Pier

The Royal Pavilion is a former royal palace built as a home for the Prince Regent during the early 19th century, under the direction of the architect John Nash, and is notable for its Indo-Saracenic architecture and Oriental interior. Other Indo-Saracenic buildings in Brighton include the Sassoon Mausoleum, now, with the bodies reburied elsewhere, in use as a chic supper club.

Brighton Marine Palace and Pier (long known as the Palace Pier) opened in 1899. It features a funfair, restaurants and arcade halls. The West Pier was built in 1866 and is one of only two Grade I listed piers in the United Kingdom. It has been closed since 1975. For some time it was under consideration for restoration, but two fires in 2003, and other setbacks, led to these plans being abandoned. The Brighton i360 observation tower opened on 4 August 2016. At 162 metres (531.49 feet) high, and with an observation pod rising to 138 metres (452.75 feet), the i360 is Britain’s highest observation tower outside London – taller even than the London Eye.

Brighton clocktower, built in 1888 for Queen Victoria’s jubilee, stands at the intersection of Brighton’s busiest thoroughfares.

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Clock Tower, Brighton

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i360

Volk’s Electric Railway runs along the inland edge of the beach from Brighton Pier to Black Rock and Brighton Marina. It was created in 1883 and is the world’s oldest operating electric railway.

The Grand Hotel was built in 1864. The Brighton hotel bombing occurred there. Its nighttime blue lighting is particularly prominent along the foreshore.

Churches and Places of Worship

The 11th century (1086) St Nicholas Church is the oldest building in Brighton, commonly known as “The Mother Church”. Other notable churches include the very tall brick-built St Bartholomew’s (1874) designed by the architect Edmund Scott, St Peter’s (1828), and St. Martin’s, noted for its decorated interior. Brighton’s Quakers run the Friends’ Meeting House in the Lanes. There is an active Unitarian community based in a Grade 2 listed building in New Road, and a Spiritualist church in Norfolk Square. There are also a number of New Age outlets and groups.

Brighton-Hove has five synagogues: New Church Road Synagogue, Hove; Holland Road Synagogue, Hove; Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue, Hove; Brighton & Hove Reform Synagogue, Hove; Middle Street Synagogue; Brighton. The Middle Street Synagogue is a Grade II-listed building built in 1874–75. It is being gradually restored by English Heritage. There are also several mosques and Buddhist centres.

Brighton has become known as one of the least religious places in the UK, based upon analysis of the 2011 census which revealed that 42 per cent of the population profess no religion, far higher than the national average of 25%. As part of the Jedi census phenomenon, 2.6 per cent claimed their religion was Jedi Knight, the largest percentage in the country.

Beaches

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Cliff Beach: Britain’s first naturist beach

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Boats on Brighton Beach

Brighton has a 5.4-mile (8.7 km) expanse of shingle beach, part of the unbroken 8-mile (13 km) section within the city limits.[note 5] Neighbouring Hove is known for its hundreds of painted timber beach huts, but brick-walled chalets are also available on Brighton seafront, especially towards Rottingdean and Saltdean. Especially east of the Palace Pier, a flat sandy foreshore is exposed at low tide. The Palace Pier section of the beach has been awarded blue flag status. Part of the beach adjoining Madeira Drive, to the east of the city centre, has been redeveloped into a sports complex and opened to the public in March 2007, with courts for pursuits such as beach volleyball and ultimate Frisbee among others.

The city council owns all the beaches, which are divided into named sections by groynes—the first of which were completed in 1724. Eastwards from the Hove boundary, the names are Boundary, Norfolk, Bedford, Metropole, Grand (referring to the four hotels with those names), Centre, King’s, Old Ship, Volk’s, Albion, Palace Pier, Aquarium, Athina (where the MS Athina B ran aground), Paston, Banjo, Duke’s, Cliff, Crescent and Black Rock. Cliff Beach is a nudist beach. Beyond Black Rock, the cliffs (part of the Brighton to Newhaven Cliffs Site of Special Scientific Interest) rise to more than 100 feet (30 m) and there are three small beaches at Ovingdean Gap, Rottingdean Gap and Saltdean Gap. All are connected by the Undercliff Walk, which has been affected by several cliff falls since 2000.

Since the demolition in 1978 of the Black Rock open-air lido at the eastern end of Brighton’s seafront, the area has been developed and now features one of Europe’s largest marinas. However, the site of the pool itself remains empty except for a skate park and graffiti wall. Since 2003 a series of developments have been proposed but have come to nothing, including housing, a five-star hotel with a winter garden, and an 11,000-seat sports arena.

The seafront is also home to many restaurants, sports facilities, amusement arcades, nightclubs and bars.

Culture


Cinema

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Odeon Kingswest on Brighton seafront opened in 1973

Brighton featured in a number of popular movies including Quadrophenia (1979), The End of the Affair (1999), Wimbledon (2004), MirrorMask (2005), Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging (2008), The Young Victoria (2009), Brighton Rock (2010 and 1947) and The Boat that Rocked (2009).

The Duke of York’s Picturehouse, dating from 1910, was opened by Mrs Violet Melnotte-Wyatt. It is the country’s oldest purpose-built cinema and was Brightons first Electric Bioscope, which still operates as an arthouse cinema. The Duke of York’s Picturehouse expanded in 2012, adding two additional screens in a different location. The company is now occupying the upstairs of Komedia, situated on Gardner Street, central Brighton. There are two multiplex cinemas, the Odeon on North Street and Cineworld in the Marina.

Festivals and Rallies

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“The Big Beach Boutique II”: over 250,000 watched Fatboy Slim (July 2002)

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Seafront display of Minis after a London to Brighton drive

Each May the city hosts the Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe, the second largest arts festival in the UK (after Edinburgh). This includes processions such as the Children’s Parade, outdoor spectaculars often involving pyrotechnics, and theatre, music and visual arts in venues throughout the city, some brought into this use exclusively for the festival. The earliest feature of the festival, the Artists’ Open Houses, are homes of artists and craftspeople opened to the public as galleries, and usually selling the work of the occupants. Since 2002, these have been organised independently of the official Festival and Fringe.

Brighton Fringe runs alongside Brighton Festival, and has grown to be one of the largest fringe festivals in the world. Together with the street performers from Brighton Festival’s “Streets of Brighton” events, and the Royal Mile-esque outdoor performances that make up “Fringe City”, outdoor spectacles and events more than double during May.

Other festivals include The Great Escape, featuring three nights of live music in venues across the city; the Soundwaves Festival in June, which shows classical music composed in the 21st Century, and involves both amateur and professional performers; Paddle Round the Pier; Brighton Live which each September stages a week of free gigs in pubs to show local bands; Burning the Clocks, a winter solstice celebration; and Brighton Pride (see lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, below). For a number of years, Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World extravaganza was held in the city.

The Kemptown area has its own small annual street festival, the Kemptown Carnival, and the Hanover area similarly has a “Hanover Day”. Local resident Fatboy Slim puts on a “Big Beach Boutique” show most years. An inaugural White Nights (Nuit Blanche) all-night arts festival took place in October 2008 and continued for 4 years until it was postponed in 2012 due to a lack of European funding. 2009 saw the first Brighton Zine Fest celebrating zine and DIY culture within the city.

Brighton is the terminus of a number of London-to-Brighton rides, and runs, such as the veteran car run and bike ride. Transport rallies are also hosted on the seafront. Groups of mods and Rockers still bring their scooters and motorbikes to the town, but their gatherings are now much more sedate than the violent 1960s confrontations depicted in Quadrophenia.

Food and drink related festivals include the traditional Blessing of the Fisheries, where barbecued mackerel are eaten on the beach and the more recent Fiery Foods Chilli Festival. There is also a twice-yearly general food festival. The main Sussex beer festival is held in nearby Hove, and there is a smaller beer festival in the Hanover area.

Brighton is the home of the UK’s first Walk of Fame which celebrates the many rich and famous people associated with the city.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community

Even amid all of this Gaiety the Southdown livery looks colourful and cheerful

Brighton Pride 2014 bus

Brighton records LGBT history in the city since the 19th century. Many LGBT pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants, cafés and shops are located around Brighton and in particular around St James’s Street in Kemptown. Several LGBT charities, publishers, social and support groups are also based in the city. Brighton Pride is usually celebrated at the start of August. Brighton also hosts an annual trans pride event, which is the first of its kind in the UK. In a 2014 estimate, 11–15% of the city’s population aged 16 or over is thought to be lesbian, gay or bisexual. The city also had the highest percentage of same-sex households in the UK in 2004 and the largest number of civil partnership registrations outside London in 2013.

Museums

Brighton museums include Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Preston Manor, Booth Museum of Natural History, Brighton Toy and Model Museum, and Brighton Fishing Museum, the long established social epicentre of the seafront, which includes artefacts from the West Pier. The Royal Pavilion is also open to the public, serving as a museum to the British Regency.

Night-life and Popular Music

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Theatre Royal, city centre

Brighton has many night-life hotspots and is associated with popular musicians including Fatboy Slim, Kirk Brandon, Tim Booth, Nick Cave, David Van Day from Dollar, and Robert Smith. Live music venues include the Concorde2, Brighton Centre and the Brighton Dome, where ABBA received a substantial boost to their career when they won the Eurovision Song Contest 1974. Many events and performance companies operate in the city. Brighton’s has produced several successful bands & music artists including Royal Blood, the Kooks, Fatboy Slim, the Freemasons, the Levellers and the Maccabees, British Sea Power, the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and the Rizzle Kicks. Brighton is also home to several independent record labels.

Notable residents

Restaurants

Brighton has about 400 restaurants.

Theatre

Theatres include the Brighton Dome and associated Pavilion Theatre, the expanded Komedia (primarily a comedy and music venue but also a theatre), the Old Market which was renovated and re-opened in 2010 and the Theatre Royal which celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2007. There are also smaller theatres such as the Marlborough Theatre, the New Venture, and the Brighton Little Theatre. The city has the new purpose built Brighton Open Air Theatre, or B•O•A•T, which is due to open for the Brighton Festival in May 2015. It is unique in that its programme will be chosen by lottery to ensure that it remains accessible and open to all comers.

Education


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University of Sussex campus from above

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Roedean School.

Brighton & Hove City Council is responsible for 80 schools, of which 54 are in Brighton.
The University of Sussex established in 1961 is a campus university between Stanmer Park and Falmer, four miles (6 km) from the city centre. Served by frequent trains (to Falmer railway station) and 24-hour buses, it has a student population of 12,500 of which 70% are undergraduates. The university is currently ranked 18th in the UK and 110th in the world by the World University Rankings.

The University of Brighton, the former Brighton Polytechnic, has a student population of 20,017 of which 80% are undergraduates. The university is on several sites with additional buildings in Falmer, Moulsecoomb, Eastbourne and Hastings.

In 2003, the universities of Sussex and Brighton formed a medical school, known as Brighton and Sussex Medical School. The school was one of four new medical schools to be created as part of a government programme to increase the number of qualified NHS doctors. The school is based in Falmer and works closely with the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.

A range of non-university courses for students over 16, mainly in vocational education subjects, is provided at the further education college, City College Brighton and Hove. More academic subjects can be studied by 16–18-year-olds at Brighton Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) in the Seven Dials area. Varndean College in North Brighton occupies a commanding position. The 1920s building is celebrated for its façade and internal quads. The college offers academic A levels, The International Baccalaureate and vocational courses.

There are state schools and some faith schools. Notable state schools include Longhill High School, Varndean School, Patcham High School, Dorothy Stringer High School, Blatchington Mill School and Sixth Form College and Brighton Aldridge Community Academy.

There are a number of independent schools, including Brighton College, Roedean School, Steiner School, BHHS and a Montessori School. As with the state schools, some independents are faith-based; Torah Academy, the last Jewish primary school, became a Pre-K/Nursery School at the end of the 2007. The Brighton Institute of Modern Music, a fully accredited music college, opened in 2001 and has since expanded to five locations throughout the UK.

In spring and summer, thousands of students from all over Europe gather to attend language courses at the many language schools.

Sport


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Falmer Stadium, home of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club

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Brighton Marina

Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club is the city’s professional football team. After playing at the Goldstone Ground for 95 years, the club spent two years ground-sharing at Gillingham before returning to the town as tenants of the Withdean Athletics Stadium. However, in 2011 the club permanently moved to Falmer Stadium in Falmer at the start of the 2011–12 season, with the first match being played there in July 2011. The club’s notable achievements including winning promotion to the Football League First Division for the first time in 1979, staying there for four seasons, during the last of which they reached the FA Cup Final and took Manchester United to a replay before losing 4-0. The 2017-18 Football season will see Brighton’s debut in the Premier League, after a win against Wigan Athletic guaranteed automatic promotion to the top flight. Notable former managers of the club include Brian Clough, Peter Taylor (born 1928), Peter Taylor (born 1953), Jimmy Melia, Liam Brady, Jimmy Case, Steve Gritt, Brian Horton, Steve Coppell and Mark McGhee. Notable former players include Gareth Barry, Dave Beasant, Justin Fashanu, Dennis Mortimer, Gordon Smith, Frank Stapleton, Howard Wilkinson and Bobby Zamora.

Whitehawk Football Club is a semi-professional football club based in the Whitehawk suburb of Brighton. Currently, they play in the Conference South having won promotion three times in the space four years between 2009–13. Whitehawk play their games at The Enclosed Ground, beautifully set into the South Downs, close to Brighton Marina. Notable former/current players include Sergio Torres, Jake Robinson, Matthew Lawrence and Darren Freeman.

Brighton and Hove is home to the Sussex County Cricket Club at Eaton Road in Hove.
Brighton Football Club (RFU) is one of the oldest Rugby Clubs in England.

Brighton & Hove Hockey Club is a large hockey club, with a homeground based in Hove. The men’s 1XI gained promotion to the England Hockey League system, Conference East, in 2013.

Throughout the year many events take place on Madeira Drive (a piece of roadway on Brighton’s seafront), which was constructed to host what is commonly held to be the world’s oldest motor race, the Brighton Speed Trials, which has been running since 1905. The event is organised by the Brighton and Hove Motor Club and normally takes place on the second Saturday in September each year.

There is also an from time to time a beach soccer competition in a temporary stadium on imported sand on the beach. The inaugural contest in June 2002 featured football stars such as Eric Cantona and Matt Le Tissier.

Brighton has a horse-racing course, Brighton Racecourse, with the unusual feature that when the full length of the course is to be used, some of the grass turf of the track has to be laid over the tar at the top of Wilson Avenue, a public road, which therefore has to be closed for the races.

There is a greyhound racing circuit – the Brighton & Hove Greyhound Stadium – in Hove, run by Coral, at which Motorcycle speedway racing was staged in 1928.

Brighton Sailing Club has been operating since the 1870s.

The Brighton and Hove Pétanque Club runs an annual triples, doubles and singles competition, informal KOs, winter and summer league, plus Open competitions with other clubs. The club is affiliated to Sussex Pétanque, the local region of the English Pétanque Association, so they can also play at a Regional and National level. The Peace Statue terrain is the official pétanque terrain situated on the seafront near the West Pier.

Brighton has two competitive swimming clubs. Brighton SC formed in 1860 claims to be the oldest swimming club in England. Brighton Dolphin SC was formed in 1891 as Brighton Ladies Swimming.

Brighton was chosen as one of the one of the 13 Rugby World Cup 2015 host cities, with two games being played at the 30,750 capacity American Express Community Stadium (Although it was named the “Brighton Community Stadium” throughout the tournament for sponsorship reasons.) One of the two games played was one of the biggest shocks in the history of Rugby Union, with Japan defeating South Africa 34 points to 32, with a try in the dying minutes of the game. The other game was between Samoa and the United States.

Transport


Northward_view_of_A23_and_Brighton_Main_Line_from_footbridge_near_Braypool_Lane,_Patcham_(December_2012)

The Brighton Main Line railway (left) and A23 road link Brighton to London.

Brighton has several railway stations, many bus routes, coach services and taxis. A Rapid Transport System has been under consideration for some years. Trolleybuses, trams, ferries and hydrofoil services have operated in the past.

Brighton is connected to the national road network by the A23 (London Road) northwards, and by two east–west routes: the A259 along the coast and the A27 trunk route inland. The A23 joins the M23 motorway at Pease Pottage near Gatwick Airport. The A27 originally ran through the urban area along Old Shoreham Road and Lewes Road, but it now follows the route of the Brighton Bypass (opened in 1990) and the old alignment has become the A270.

A bypass was first proposed in 1932, six routes were submitted for approval in 1973, and the Department of the Environment published its recommended route in 1980. Public enquiries took place in 1983 and 1987, construction started in 1989 and the first section—between London Road at Patcham and the road to Devil’s Dyke—opened in summer 1991. By 1985 there were about 5,000 parking spaces in central Brighton. The largest car parks are at London Road, King Street, and the Churchill Square/Regency Road/Russell Road complex. In 1969, a 520-space multi-storey car park was built beneath the central gardens of Regency Square.

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Brighton Station Concourse

Frequent trains operate from Brighton railway station. Many Brighton residents commute to work in London and destinations include London Victoria, London Bridge and St Pancras International. Most trains serve Gatwick Airport, and those operated by Thameslink continue to St Albans, Luton, Luton Airport Parkway and Bedford. The fastest service from London Victoria takes 51 minutes. The West Coastway Line serves stations to Hove, Worthing, Portsmouth and Southampton; and the East Coastway Line runs via Lewes to Newhaven, Eastbourne, Hastings and Ashford, Kent, crossing the landmark London Road viaduct en route and providing “a dramatic high-level view” of Brighton. A wider range of long-distance destinations was served until 2007–08 when rationalisation caused the ending of InterCity services via Kensington (Olympia) and Reading to Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh. Twice-daily long-distance services to Bristol and Great Malvern are operated by Great Western Railway via the West Coastway Line.

Until deregulation in 1986, bus services in Brighton were provided by Southdown Motor Services and Brighton Borough Transport under a joint arrangement called “Brighton Area Transport Services”. Southdown were part of the nationalised NBC group and were based at Freshfield Road in the Kemptown area; Brighton Borough Transport were owned by the council and used the former tram depot at Lewes Road as their headquarters. Joint tickets were available and revenue was shared. The Brighton & Hove Bus Company, owned by the Go-Ahead Group since 1993, now runs most bus services in Brighton. Its fleet has about 280 buses. Compass Travel, The Big Lemon, Metrobus, Stagecoach South and The Sussex Bus also operate some services to central Brighton. The city had 1,184 bus stops in 2012, 456 of which had a shelter. Real-time travel information displays are provided at many stops.

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A Brighton & Hove bus service to East Moulsecoomb

The only park and ride facility in Brighton is based at the Withdean Stadium. It does not offer a dedicated shuttle bus service: intending passengers must join the Brighton & Hove Bus Company’s route 27 service to Saltdean—which travels via Brighton railway station, the Clock Tower and Old Steine—and pay standard fares. The 20-year City Plan released in January 2013 ruled out an official park-and-ride facility, stating it would be an “inefficient use of public money, particularly in an era of declining car use”. Councillors and residents in Woodingdean and Rottingdean have claimed that streets and car parks in those areas have become unofficial park-and-ride sites: drivers park for free and take buses into the city centre.

Shoreham Airport is 9 miles (14 km) west of Brighton near the town of Shoreham-by-Sea. The airport has since rebranded Brighton (Shoreham) Airport.

Gatwick Airport is 22 miles (35 km) north on the A23; and regular coach and rail services operate from Brighton to the Airport.

Gallery


Maps of Brighton

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county

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Tower Bridge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

TOWER BRIDGE DATA

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Tower Bridge from Shad Thames

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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

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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.)

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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


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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


The Beatles

The Beatles . Biography


Wikipedia

The Beatles 001-02

The Beginning

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How do you begin a biography of the Beatles? I mean honestly, what can you say that can summarize such a spectacular revolution, not only in music but in world consciousness? Their scope of influence stretches from music to film and even dabbles in politics and the art of friendship. Their story is inspiring, sparking many to get up out of their chairs and try something new. The Beatles pioneered so much in their short time together, changing the world for generations to come.

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It all began in 1957, Liverpool England, the second most unlikely place in the world to give birth to stardom (the first being Demorest, Georgia). John Lennon had learned the banjo at a young age, moving quickly to the guitar and then starting his own band. Dubbed “The Quarry Men”, this high school skiffle group played around Liverpool, changing members more frequently than they changed socks. Soon, a young Mr. Paul McCartney sauntered up to John in between concerts. After hearing him play the guitar, John said “Hey. Join me band, we?ll become the most popular group in the world.” Not wanting to appear anxious, Paul waited a day before saying “Alright, sure.” The famous Lennon-McCartney duo was born.

09 The-Beatles

Eight months later Paul had a suggestion for a new recruit. Three years their junior, George Harrison was nonetheless a wizard on the guitar. John was hesitant to allow such a young person into the band, but George won him over. Two weeks before his 15th birthday, George officially became a member of the band. I don’t know about you, but my fifteenth birthday wasn’t nearly as productive as his…

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The Quarry Men continued to play in and around Liverpool. Their name went through several changes over the coming months. After using and discarding the Quarry Men label, Johnny and the Moondogs enjoyed a brief stint, followed by The Nerk Twins. Finally, John hit upon something when he conjured “The Beatals” as their new official title, wanting an insect reference similar to Buddy Holly’s “The Crickets”, the whole beetle theme continued through their next five names: The Silver Beetles, The Silver Beats, The Beatles, The Silver Beatles. At last, after going through more metamorphoses than a caterpillar, the ‘silver’ was dropped (again), leaving the short and sweet, ultra catchy and very rememberable, The Beatles.

Their logo was based on an impromptu sketch by instrument retailer and designer Ivor Arbiter. The Beatles 001-02
Their logo was based on an impromptu sketch by instrument retailer and designer Ivor Arbiter.
The Beatles 001-02

The Beatles 016Some phenomenal changes were in the air as the universe began to stitch together the group that would spark so much change throughout the world. Though they didn’t know it at the time, but this group of young men were setting their foundation for their climb to the top of the world. All they needed was a big break.

Abbey Road Studios main entrance
Abbey Road Studios main entrance.

Abbey Road Studios has been home to countless landmark recordings and pioneering advances in recording technology. We excel in recording, mixing, editing, mastering and audio restoration.

Our facilities are some of the best in the world with award-winning engineers, wonderful acoustic rooms, an unrivalled microphone collection and a highly sought-after mixture of unique, historic audio equipment and cutting-edge recording technology.

The studios are also a unique venue and we host a limited number of exclusive events per annum.

 Top Ten most Technically Innovative Beatles Songs 28 April 2014 Brian Kehew and Kevin Ryan, co-authors of 'Recording the Beatles', have compiled a list of the top ten most technically innovative Beatles songs for Mojo magazine. As they explain,

Top Ten most Technically Innovative Beatles Songs
28 April 2014
Brian Kehew and Kevin Ryan, co-authors of ‘Recording the Beatles’, have compiled a list of the top ten most technically innovative Beatles songs for Mojo magazine.
As they explain, “The group’s remarkable thirst for newness, allied with the ingenuity of their producers and engineers at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios, gave rise to cutting-edge sonics and daring studio exploration – now often taken for granted.”
Check out the top ten here.
Brian and Kevin will be speaking at ‘The Sound of Abbey Road Studios’ events this weekend, along with Beatles engineer Ken Scott. The last few tickets are available here.
Abbey Road Meets... Ken Scott 27 March 2014 We put your questions to renowned former Abbey Road engineer Ken Scott this week. Ken is one of the speakers at ‘The Sound of Abbey Road Studios’ events, where he will return to the very room where he worked on his first session nearly 50 years ago: The Beatles putting the finishing touches to their album ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ in Studio Two. An esteemed engineer, producer and pivotal figure in Abbey Road Studios’ history, Ken has also worked with Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Lou Reed, to name but a few. Thank you to everyone who participated and sent in questions; the standard was high and it was tough choosing which ones to put to him. Here is the interview in full.
Abbey Road Meets… Ken Scott
27 March 2014
We put your questions to renowned former Abbey Road engineer Ken Scott this week.
Ken is one of the speakers at ‘The Sound of Abbey Road Studios’ events, where he will return to the very room where he worked on his first session nearly 50 years ago: The Beatles putting the finishing touches to their album ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ in Studio Two.
An esteemed engineer, producer and pivotal figure in Abbey Road Studios’ history, Ken has also worked with Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Lou Reed, to name but a few.
Thank you to everyone who participated and sent in questions; the standard was high and it was tough choosing which ones to put to him. Here is the interview in full.
Visit Abbey Road's legendary Studio Two 11 March 2014 We are pleased to announce ‘The Sound of Abbey Road Studios’, unique talks taking place in April and May featuring special guest former Abbey Road Studios Engineer Ken Scott. The talks mark a new opportunity to visit Abbey Road Studios’ world famous Studio Two, where many iconic artists have recorded including The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Elton John, Oasis and Adele. Event hosts Brian Kehew and Kevin Ryan, authors of critically acclaimed book Recording the Beatles, return for the third instalment of this fascinating talks series with a brand new lecture exploring the evolution of recording techniques and equipment, many of which were pioneered at Abbey Road Studios. In addition to the informative and entertaining stories behind these techniques, the lectures will include demonstrations using both new and vintage equipment, some of which has been used on many landmark recordings over the studios’ 82 year history. For the first time in the series, Brian and Kevin welcome a special guest. Renowned former Abbey Road engineer Ken Scott will be returning to speak in the very room where he recorded tracks by legendary artists including Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck and the Beatles. An esteemed producer and pivotal figure in Abbey Road Studios’ history, Ken has also made records with The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Lou Reed, to name but a few. With Brian and Kevin’s incredible knowledge of Abbey Road Studios’ history and its role in the development of audio production plus Ken’s unique insight into life at the world’s first purpose built recording studios, these talks promise to be a captivating experience for all classical, rock, pop and film score fans.
Visit Abbey Road’s Legendary Studio Two
11 March 2014
We are pleased to announce ‘The Sound of Abbey Road Studios’, unique talks taking place in April and May featuring special guest former Abbey Road Studios Engineer Ken Scott.
The talks mark a new opportunity to visit Abbey Road Studios’ world famous Studio Two, where many iconic artists have recorded including The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Elton John, Oasis and Adele.
Event hosts Brian Kehew and Kevin Ryan, authors of critically acclaimed book Recording the Beatles, return for the third instalment of this fascinating talks series with a brand new lecture exploring the evolution of recording techniques and equipment, many of which were pioneered at Abbey Road Studios. In addition to the informative and entertaining stories behind these techniques, the lectures will include demonstrations using both new and vintage equipment, some of which has been used on many landmark recordings over the studios’ 82 year history.
For the first time in the series, Brian and Kevin welcome a special guest. Renowned former Abbey Road engineer Ken Scott will be returning to speak in the very room where he recorded tracks by legendary artists including Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck and the Beatles. An esteemed producer and pivotal figure in Abbey Road Studios’ history, Ken has also made records with The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Lou Reed, to name but a few.
With Brian and Kevin’s incredible knowledge of Abbey Road Studios’ history and its role in the development of audio production plus Ken’s unique insight into life at the world’s first purpose built recording studios, these talks promise to be a captivating experience for all classical, rock, pop and film score fans.

The Ride to the Top

The Beatles did not immediately jump out to stardom. In fact, their climb was somewhat like a roller coaster, a slow clanking to the top, the suspense building and waiting for that first plunge over the hill. For months they toured Liverpool and the surrounding towns trying to build a fan base. Eventually they made their way Hamburg, playing to a particularly rowdy crowd. The boys were forced to rev-up their performance for the demanding audience, teaching them how to become true showmen. Upon returning to Liverpool, they discovered some of their fame had preceded them.

Brian Epstein, a record store owner in Liverpool, got wind of the Beatles about this time. His interest was piqued, so he went to watch them perform one night. At first glance, they appeared like most young Liverpudlians at the time: uncouth hair, leather jackets and dark trousers. But when they played, their synthesis created something marvelous. Something about their energy when together inspired Brian to become their manager. He pulled some strings and got the boys a few auditions. Sadly, they were unfruitful. This didn’t dampen their resolve, however, and Epstein continued lobbying for the band until he finally secured an audition with George Martin at Parlophone records.

Martin, as it turns out, loved their sound. He, too, was an early victim of the Beatles’ undeniable charm and catchy beats, succumbing to their charismatic energy like Bugs Bunny to a carrot. He cleaned them up, put them in tailored suits and gave them a resounding thumbs-up (It was Brian Epstein who suggested they wear suits). The only part of the package he didn’t seem to like was their drummer, Pete Best. In a move that still raises eyebrows to this day, Epstein was asked to replace Pete before the deal would be complete. Richard Starkey, our beloved Ringo Starr, would take his place, completing the rock and roll quartet. The Beatles were complete.

Being the superstar producer like he was, Martin decided these lanky Liverpudlians should take over the world. After consulting history books and noting that marching over mountains with elephants was not successful, he decided to take the musical route. After several mildly-successful singles released in the UK, the album Please Please Me was recorded in a 12-hour studio session and released in March of 1963. It was a hit, topping the charts for over 6 months. Not too shabby for one day’s worth of work; much nicer than minimum wage.

I Want To Hold Your Hand hit the enterprising shores of America at the end of 1963, floating to number one like a rubber ducky. Their new look was also a big hit. Teens loved their off-kilter appearance, collarless suits, mop-top hair and quirky personalities. The Beatles quickly became known for their plucky sense of humor and constant silliness. In an interview conducted in February 1964, a reporter informed the Beatles that Detroit University had a ‘Stamp out the Beatles’ movement. The boys nodded, and Paul replied with his characteristic head bob “We’ve got a Stamp out Detroit movement!” After laughing, the interviewer continued. “They think your haircuts are un-American.” John retorted, “Well, it was very observant of them because we aren’t American, actually.” Such flippant and unrestrained joy in life was infectious, only increasing their charm and lovability.

The Beatles then hopped on a boat and sailed over to the U.S. (via jet plane) for their famous appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. In what was the highest rated program to that date, the famous words “Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles!” introduced the rag-tag bunch to the television world. They hopped, they sang, they played, they laughed. People loved it. The souls of the world were opening up to a new era of thought, instigated by the quartet of young clowns from Liverpool. Their songs were simple but touching, the tunes catchy and enjoyable. America fell for the Beatles’, and their success was only beginning.

I Can See My House from Here (or “being on the top)

A sure-sign of being “on the top” would be having a lunchbox with your image on the front. Or a pencil sharpener. Or a pair of socks. Or bubblegum. Or all of the above and much more. Beatlemania settled upon the world, nestling us in the warm winged comfort of the four boys from Liverpool. Their timing couldn’t have been better to start their ascent up the pedestal of stardom. The world was on the verge of an enormous change, and the Beatles, with their budding creativity, would foster the revolution.

As any comic book teaches us, good never comes without evil. Critics reared their ugly heads and had their say, proclaiming the Beatles were nothing but a fad that would die as soon as the next group of cute guys with guitars came along. Shortly after being proved embarrassingly wrong, the same critics tucked their tails and ran, beginning lives of insurance salesmen to retain a shred of their dignity.

The Beatles’ answer to the critics: make a movie. Nothing short of borrowing Santa’s magic sleigh could allow the group to tour every city on earth, so, A Hard Day’s Night was created, sending their images to even the smallest towns and earning them a world-wide reputation for being the happy-go-lucky fab-four they were. Accompanying the movie was an album of the same name, a soundtrack of sorts, launching their career even higher into orbit as thousands of teenage girls watched the movie and swooned.

On the personal side, the band members were molding together in an even tighter knit than before. They were growing up and growing together, stepping into their own personalities more deeply than before. A Hard Day’s Night was the first Beatles album written entirely by the band, showcasing their creativity and ingenuity even this early in their career. John and Paul flexed their lyric-writing muscles in preparation for the records to come.

Since becoming household names, John, Paul, George and Ringo had unwittingly become workaholics. Touring schedules were hectic, hopping the boys across cities, states and countries in a matter of months. And being stars comes with its fair share of responsibility; now they had fans to attend to, those loyal people who could never get enough Beatlemania. The first few years of their success gave them little time to relax and enjoy the fruits of their labors. Beatles for Sale was released in early December 1964, but contained only a handful of original songs. By the end of 1964, the consensus was clear–-slow down and concentrate on the music.

With a bigger budget and more explorative souls, the Beatles produced another movie/album combo six months later. Help! was released to glowing fans, featuring Ringo as the “Starr” of the show. (Yes, that was a bad joke, but I had to!) The album featured more original hits by the Lennon-McCartney duo, including the most-covered song in the history of music, Yesterday. This record also showed off John’s vocal abilities and range, his heart rising and falling with his voice to enchant everyone.

The Beatles were only getting better. They established a pattern of constantly pushing the limits of both society and themselves (and the music industry) and setting ever-higher standards for their work. Each successive album built upon the last as they continued to mesh as a group, their personalities growing more integrated by the day. The universe had stitched them together as if they were destined to be, now they just had to grow as a group to become a whole. Much like a ball of yarn becomes a sock, actually.

Rubber Soul has been called the first true Beatles album, symbolizing their break from traditional love songs and moving into a more eclectic form of songwriting. Every tune was an original, and a few were more original than others. In My Life has been called the greatest song ever written, giving haunting memories of that ruggedly familiar feeling of nostalgia explicated so poetically by John. Norwegian Wood featured an instrument unfamiliar to most western ears, the sitar, played by George Harrison. Such a blending of cultures and sounds was indicative of the group’s collective charm and charisma as well as the budding movement of non-violence and love growing throughout the world.

Never satisfied with milking old formulas, the experiments continued. After Rubber Soul came Revolver, a veritable fruit smoothie of melody, harmony, love, traditional style and something very new. If Rubber Soul was a single step into originality, Revolver was a full game of hopscotch. Songs such as Eleanor Rigby, Yellow Submarine and Tomorrow Never Knows showcased the talent waking up from a long winter’s nap within the group. Fully comfortable with themselves, with each other, and with their music, the Beatles had shoved their sticks in the ground and were preparing to pole vault across the lines of normality even farther.

The renaissance of culture and consciousness was in full-swing at this point. Hippies, those free-willed 15-25 year olds with a penchant for peace, were leaving their homes and striking out on their own, rejecting the old and forging into the new. The Beatles were doing similar things at this time, releasing the traditional styles of music and breaking into their own style. Were the Beatles a catalyst for this movement of change or did they just ride the universal waves? The answer is, undoubtedly, a little bit of both.

After turning up the creativity in exponential notches for their previous albums, the Beatles did their most creative work to date with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The brainchild of Paul, the name was a nom de plume of sorts for the Beatles, giving them an excuse to wear crazy outfits. The album features many musical firsts, as per the usual Beatles’ style. Each song blends smoothly into the next, creating the impression that the whole album is one grand concert, complete with applause and screaming fans.

Sgt. Pepper was also the “coming-out” album for the Beatles. Although they had been innovative on their previous recordings, Sgt. Pepper proved they were never out of fresh ideas to experiment with. Their voices can really be heard on this album; they sound more aware, more grown up and more settled in their roles as world musicians. At this time, psychedelic drugs were in full swing in many countries around the world, and the Beatles experimented with their effects as well. While many say this was the source of their creativity in the later years, at best it only contributed to their inherent innovation. Still, Sgt. Pepper was inventive and fresh, becoming an instant hit and long-term inspiration for many.

The Beatles’ were about to embark upon a gauntlet of changes beginning in 1967. Paul sketched out a plan for a new movie, this one completely unscripted. The idea was that a group of actors would be placed on a bus with the Beatles and taken for a ride through their imagination. A “magical mystery tour” of sorts. Work began on the album and movie in the spring of ’67, but was interrupted by several major events. Their manager since the beginning, the man who discovered the Beatles, Brian Epstein, passed away. This was not only an emotional blow to the group, having lost a trusted companion and friend, but a work-related strain as well. Without a manager to handle the business details of the band, the work fell onto the members. Paul had a very proactive attitude toward the process, immediately taking responsibility and encouraging the others to do so as well. John and George had very different opinions, and Ringo didn’t seem to mind either way. The first internal strain had begun to form, one that would, in combination with many other factors, lead to the eventual breakup of the Beatles.

The Beatles also visited Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the man becoming famous in America for bringing an ancient Indian technique of meditation to the world. Seeking spiritual knowledge just as we all were, the Beatles traveled to India with the hopes of gaining enlightenment. Each band member had a different experience there, creating a larger rift between them. They came back unfulfilled on one level but full of creativity on another. Magical Mystery Tour was finished shortly after, releasing both the movie and the album before the end of the year.

The tension created by the loss of their manager and by the varied experiences in India was taking its toll. This combined with John’s insistence on having his new love interest Yoko Ono present at the studio (despite his band-mate’s wishes) made the situation more harrowing. At one point, Ringo actually left the group. The Beatles were far from through with their creative streak, however, as their very next album would show.

In stark contrast to their previous two works, the The Beatles (The White Album) featured a simple white cover with “The Beatles” inconspicuously written on the front. Its simplicity was a foil to the complex music found within. Over two dozen songs filled the inside of this plain white wrapper, each more different than the last. From crazy psychedelic songs such as Wild Honey Pie to somber melodies in Julia, Blackbird and I Will, the White Album would become famous for containing more musical styles than many artists had dabbled with in their entire careers. Such was the nature of the Beatles’ free spirit and inventiveness, the four personalities melding together to allow the freedom and ingenuity for the various styles to come forward.

The band owed United Artists another movie (thanks to those fun things called ‘contracts’), so it was decided to make an animated movie based on the song Yellow Submarine (Songtrack) previously released on Revolver. The soundtrack by the same name featured only four new songs by the Beatles, George Martin creating the orchestral pieces and arranging the other songs.

The Breakup

Unfortunately, the band felt they were running out of steam. Tensions had grown and the overall feeling was that the Beatles were near their end. A final album was planned, but even the details of it could not be agreed upon. The producer favored Paul’s ideas, causing John to withdraw from many sessions in resentment. George and Ringo felt unneeded and refused to show up at many rehearsals. Though the band’s problems were increasing, their music did not seem to suffer the same fate. Abbey Road, planned as a farewell album, featured tight vocals, haunting harmonies and the famous You Never Give Me Your Money medley, pulling many songs together in one long enjoyable ride. Abbey Road was released in the fall of 1969, but the Beatles still were not done with the world, or so it seemed.

Lennon McCartney Harrison Starr

Paul tried to convince the others to do a handful of concerts to re-establish their core group of fans. John and George were against the idea. What resulted was the famous rooftop concert staged in London. At its conclusion, John said the famous line “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!”. They still had their magic. Songs recorded here were combined with other Beatles material and mixed by Phil Spector. Let It Be (recorded before Abbet Rd) was pieced together and released to the world, an unintended finale to the Beatles’ tromp through the world.

Their end officially came on December 29, 1970. The Beatles, the world’s most influential group of musicians, had been through it all. From rising from obscurity to a serendipitous beginning, they floated on the waves of fame and rode them all the way to America. There they delighted fans and critics alike, awing them with their playful sense of life and harmonious music. They had merchandise, millions of fans, and even a mass album burning in the mid 60’s when John stated they were “more popular than Jesus”. Up and down, side to side, the Beatles traversed it all. It was the symbolic end of an era the Beatles had helped create. The world was changed because of them, and it would never be the same. As John said at the conclusion of the rooftop concert, “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!”

Post-Beatles:

The four men went their separate directions. John became known for his political activism and his own music career, often combining efforts with wife Yoko Ono. His most famous post-Beatles song, Imagine (from the album of the same name), encouraged unity and peace between nations. It was a ballad for world harmony, encouraging everyone to imagine a world free from war, united as one.

Though his career after the Beatles was successful, it did not reach the height of what he had accomplished in the band. His final album was released in late 1980, rising straight to number one almost everywhere in the world. In December of the same year, John Lennon was tragically murdered by a gunman outside his Manhattan apartment. The world cried collectively when they heard the news, as one of the greatest revolutionary songwriters had moved on from this world and to the next. His work would live on, affecting the lives of billions of people throughout time.

George Harrison, often referred to as the “quiet Beatle”, slowly came into his own after the breakup of the band. He released several albums and singles sporadically, including rock’s first triple album, All Things Must Pass. He had a growing interest in Hinduism and eastern meditation techniques spurred by his meetings with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Throughout the 90’s he fought a battle with lung cancer, one that would eventually take his life in November of 2001. This gentle soul, one who was forever advocating love and spirituality, was cremated, his ashes rumored having been spread on the holy river Ganges in India.

Paul enjoyed a successful solo career after the splitting of the Beatles, continuing to produce albums to this day. Ringo released an album that topped the charts in the late 80’s but was otherwise not very active in the music industry. In the mid 1990’s, coming together for the closest thing to a Beatles’ reunion possible, Paul, George and Ringo agreed to allow a three volume six CD Beatles’ Anthology 1, Anthology 2, Anthology 3 (with accompanying television shows) to be produced, containing unreleased recordings, demos, and two new songs. Free as a Bird and Real Love, originally written by John but re-recorded from his demo tapes. It was both a tribute and a retrospection for the Beatles, reminding the world and a new generation that they were the most influential band ever to grace our globe.

John Lennon once said in reference to the Beatles’ popularity, “We were just a band that made it very very big, that’s all.” In some ways he’s correct. The Beatles was a band, four men from Liverpool, that rose to fame as any band would. When they made it to the top, the world was ready for change. The combined energies of these four created something spectacular, something undeniably unique. This allowed for unmatched creativity and ingenuity, the pinnacle of human potential expressed in their group. Their message is timeless, their songs unique and dear to everyone’s heart. They are sure to delight and inspire listeners for the rest of time.

~by John Bardinelli © 2004 Beatlesnumber9

A SHORT BEATLES HISTORY

Founded in Liverpool during the late ’50s by guitarists John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, with drummer Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe on bass,the Beatles were initially a skiffle band, playing a British variation of American folk music. The band — which went under several names before arriving at the Beatles — incorporated numerous American rock & roll, rhythm & blues, and pop music influences in their playing and songwriting, most notably the sounds of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Arthur Alexander. By the early ’60s, they had developed significant popularity in Hamburg, Germany, where dozens of Liverpool bands were booked into local clubs, and this soon translated into success in their hometown, where the band’s mixture of solid American rock & roll and careful music articulation made them stand out from the rest of the city’s music scene. Sutcliffe left the band in 1961 and McCartney took over on bass. After finding their manager Brian Epstein — who got them an audition with George Martin, the head of EMI Records’ tiny Parlophone label — the band was signed to a recording contract in 1962. Ringo Starr replaced Best on drums soon thereafter, and the group’s lineup was set.

By the spring of 1963, the Beatles’ singles and albums were breaking sales records in England, and they were officially introduced to America in February 1964 with an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show followed by a whirlwind tour. The group had been signed the year before to do a movie, and, through a stroke of good luck, they were turned over to producer Walter Shenson, director Richard Lester, and screenwriter Alun Owen, who together created A Hard Day’s Night, probably the best rock & roll movie ever made. This film, a black-and-white, documentary-style, fictionalized account of the fishbowl lives that the Beatles were leading during the first wave of Beatlemania, was popular with parents as well as their teenage children, and critics loved it, too. (Andrew Sarris called it “the Citizen Kane of jukebox movies.”) The mix of the four personalities — Starr’s honest, earthy, clownish presence; Harrison’s cutting, funny personality; McCartney’s pleasant, engaging presence; and Lennon’s snide, sarcastic wit — won over audiences around the world.

…You’ve landed at Beatlesnumber9 A burning HOT Beatles Fan Site Where Beatlemaniacs Pay their respects To John, Paul, George and Ringo…

The band’s follow-up movie, Help! was made on a much bigger budget and in color, but it failed to repeat A Hard Day’s Night’s success, suffering from an unfocused script and a good, but not great, selection of songs. The group was generally as unhappy with the results as everyone else, although the film did make money and have some entertaining moments. The Beatles tried directing and producing their own television film, 1967’s Magical Mystery Tour, but the result — outside of a couple of scenes and a handful of good songs — were amateurish. In 1968, they provided the songs for the psychedelic animated feature Yellow Submarine, and made a brief onscreen appearance at the movie’s conclusion. The divisions that would eventually lead to the group’s break-up were chronicled in the 1969 documentary Let It Be, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, with impressive results.

The Beatles’ exposure to movie-making whetted their appetites for filmmaking on a variety of levels. Lennon had an acting role in Richard Lester’s anti-war satire How I Won the War, while McCartney wrote the score for the John and Roy Boulting comedy The Family Way. Meanwhile, Starr acted in the film Candy, while Harrison produced the soundtrack to the Indian movie Wonderwall. During the late ’60s and early ’70s, the Beatles’ corporate entity, Apple, acquired the distribution rights to various movies, including El Topo and La Grande Bouffe, and made a number of films, most notably Born to Boogie, directed and produced by Starr, and The Concert for Bangladesh, co-produced by Harrison. Starr also took an occasional acting role, most notably in the David Puttnam-produced period drama That’ll Be the Day. McCartney also composed and performed the title song for the 1973 James Bond movie Live and Let Die, but it was ultimately Harrison who became the most active of the Beatles in filmmaking. Through his company Handmade Films, he helped produce such hit pictures as Monty Python’s Life of Brian – Criterion Collection and the fantasy Time Bandits (Special Edition). The end of the ’70s also saw the lingering mystique of the Beatles parodied by Monty Python alumnus Eric Idle and Bonzo Dog Band-founder Neil Innes in the film The Rutles – All You Need Is Cash, in which Harrison made a cameo. ~ Bruce Eder.

Discography

Original UK LPs

  1. Please Please Me (1963)
  2. With the Beatles (1963)
  3. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
  4. Beatles for Sale (1964)
  5. Help! (1965)
  6. Rubber Soul (1965)
  7. Revolver (1966)
  8. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
  9. The Beatles (White Album) (1968)
  10. Yellow Submarine (1969)
  11. Abbey Road (1969)
  12. Let It Be (1970)

Compiled from many sources

London

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.