Only 24 hours to spend in London; what should I see...? London Advice: British English
Get acquainted with the English you'll hear in London... History: A century of London on film
Video clips starring London, from the 1890s to the 1980s... Music: Reggae & Ska in London
Imported from Jamaica, Reggae and Ska took root in London... Buildings: London's tallest buildings
After years of stasis, London is building upwards. Main ones here... Blog Highlights: Great London Eccentrics
The human mole, Stanley Green & the Flying Pieman of Holborn Hill... Who Are Londoners?: Second World War
1940-42, London suffered sustained bombing during the Blitz... Art & Culture: The British Museum
A trip to London minus the British Museum, is a partial trip... Hidden London: Brockwell Lido
For several weeks a year, London temperatures are smoking. Cool in the pool...
Selfridges & Co. is a London institution. The store opened in 1909 and helped to establish Oxford Street as the main shopping district in London. Bleriot's cross-channel monoplane was displayed here, and the first public demonstration of television by John Logie Baird in 1925 occurred on the first floor. These marketing campaigns were highly successful in establishing the store as a groundbreaking market leader.
Responsible for numerous marketing campaigns and ploys that have become standard practice, Selfridges & Co. was the first department store to open a perfume department built around the main entrance. At the time London was besieged by Omnibuses and other horse drawn traffic, (there's some early film of London's street traffic) so the air was heavy with the ripe aroma of manure. Shoppers flooded into the fragrant entrance and as Gordon Selfridge had hoped, made their way further into the store.
In the 1960s Selfridges launched the young fashion brand 'Miss Selfridge', with its own entrance on Duke Street, coffee bar and for the first time music. So the hip, swinging cats of London would feel at home within the Grand Dame of British retail.
There are two stops on Regent Street. Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. (Piccadilly, Bakerloo, Central and Victoria Lines)
Lamb's Conduit Street in Bloomsbury, is a street you're unlikely to drift through by accident and belongs to no established tourist trail. Understanding what a conduit is and what it's for, is a useful starting point - before tackling the specifics of who Lamb might be.
History of London Conduits
London's unabated growth throughout the middle-ages created a practical problem, which required one of London's mightiest engineering projects to solve. The water supply failed to meet the daily needs of the population. To address this a 'Great Conduit' was built. Conduits are still used today, though mainly as small plastic coverings for cables and wires. You might imagine that a 'Great Conduit' was the kind of pipe you could manoeuvre three Minis through, but conduits actually referred to the 'cisterns' or tanks holding the water. These conduits were served by lead or wooden piping and connected the springs for the River Tyburne, Walbrook and many other [now subterranean] rivers in London. The spring filled the conduit, creating a 'head' of water, that could course for up to a mile down a gentle slope. It was dispensed using cocks or taps.
Since the use of water by some trades was regarded as excessive (baking, brewing & tanning were especially demanding), the conduit houses surrounding the cisterns were managed and access to the supply was strictly controlled. Conduit houses also served as 'moral billboards' since everyone in the city would need to visit them regularly. Nothing was likely to raise Londoners' scorn quite like having their viewpoint steered or massaged. Then, or now. The conduit houses were consequently covered with graffiti & slogans. The accession parade of James I passed a conduit house where the following verse was daubed for His Majesty's consideration.
Life is a dross, a sparkle, a span
A bubble: yet how proud is man!
Harrods department store was founded in 1834 by Charles Henry Harrod and moved to its current site in 1851 after capitalising on brisk trade at a stall set up for the Great Exhibition of that year. The company expanded rapidly, but the initial buildings were destroyed by fire in 1883. A new temporary building was quickly built and in 1898 the store installed the first escalator (more of a leather conveyor belt), where brandy was offered to customers to revive them after their 'ordeal'. Harrods' present building was finished in 1905 after 11 years in construction.