This is the fourth post in our series about the Olympic mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, that have been placed around London as part of the new Discovery Trails that have been unveiled to guide locals and tourists around London for the Olympics.
Here are some fun facts and information about the most interesting mascots on the Pink Trail. The Pink Trail takes you through the hustle and bustle of London’s West End.
Nearly 400 buskers entertain the travelling public in tube stations throughout the city every week. A hit with the listeners and performers, the London Underground busking scheme started in 2003 to manage what was once an illegal activity. London Underground now runs up to 3,000 weekly time slots which buskers, licensed through their office.
If you use the tube, it means there is a pretty good chance you’ll get to hear some of the city’s best folk music and liven up what can otherwise be a dreary experience. For buskers, it’s the chance to earn a living doing the thing they love.
Buskers can also be found above ground all around London. The City of London itself, though, isn’t a good place to start. Busking within these boundaries is not permitted, but plenty of boroughs on its outskirts – including Camden and the Covent Garden market – allow it.
Cleopatra’s Needle Wenlock:
Cleopatra’s Needle is the popular name for the Ancient Egyptian obelisk re-erected in London during the nineteenth century. The obelisk is part of a pair and its partner resides in New York. Although the needles are genuine Ancient Egyptian obelisks, they are somewhat misnamed as they have no particular connection with Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt, and were already over a thousand years old in her lifetime. The London “needle” is one such example, as it was originally made during the reign of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Thutmose III but was falsely named “Cleopatra’s needle”. The obelisk was presented to the United Kingdom in 1819 by the ruler of Egypt and Sudan Muhammad Ali, in commemoration of the victories of Lord Nelson at the Battle of the Nile and Sir Ralph Abercromby at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801. One of the most interesting facts about the “needle” is that when it was erected in 1878 a time capsule was concealed in the front part of the pedestal, it contained : A set of 12 photographs of the best looking English women of the day, a box of hairpins, a box of cigars, several tobacco pipes, a set of imperial weights, a baby’s bottle, some children’s toys, a shilling razor, a hydraulic jack and some samples of the cable used in erection, a 3′ bronze model of the monument, a complete set of British coins, a rupee, a portrait of Queen Victoria, a written history of the strange tale of the transport of the monument, plans on vellum, a translation of the inscriptions, copies of the bible in several languages, a copy of Whitaker’s Almanack, a Bradshaw Railway Guide, a map of London and copies of 10 daily newspapers
Trafalgar Square is a public space and tourist attraction in central London, England, United Kingdom built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. At its centre is Nelson’s Column, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. There are a number of statues and sculptures in the square, with one plinth displaying changing pieces of contemporary art. The square is also used for political demonstrations and community gatherings, such as the celebration of New Year’s Eve. The name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), a British naval victory of the Napoleonic Wars over France.
Fun fact: The square was once famous for its feral pigeons, and feeding them was a popular activity. The desirability of the birds’ presence was contentious: their droppings disfigured stonework, and the flock, estimated at its peak to be 35,000, was considered a health hazard. In 2005, the sale of bird seed in the square was stopped and other measures introduced to discourage the pigeons, including the use of trained birds of prey. Groups of supporters continued to feed the birds, but in 2003 the then-Mayor, Ken Livingstone, enacted bylaws to ban the feeding of pigeons in the square. In September 2007 Westminster City Council passed further bylaws banning the feeding of birds on the square’s pedestrianised North Terrace and other pavements in the area. There are now few birds in Trafalgar Square and it is used for festivals and hired out to film companies in a way that was not feasible in the 1990s.
China Town Mandeville:
The name Chinatown has been used at different times to describe different places in London. The present Chinatown is part of the Soho area of the City of Westminster, occupying the area in and around Gerrard Street. It contains a number of Chinese restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, souvenir shops, and other Chinese-run businesses. The first area in London known as Chinatown was located in the Limehouse area of the East End of London. At the start of the 20th century, the Chinese population of London was concentrated in that area, setting up businesses which catered to the Chinese sailors who frequented in Docklands. The area began to become known through exaggerated reports and tales of (legal) opium dens and slum housing, rather than the Chinese restaurants and supermarkets in the current Chinatown. However, much of the area was damaged by aerial bombing during the Blitz in the Second World War, although a number of elderly Chinese still choose to live in this area. After the Second World War, however, the growing popularity of Chinese cuisine and an influx of immigrants from Hong Kong led to an increasing number of Chinese restaurants being opened elsewhere.
The present Chinatown did not start to be established until the 1970s. Up until then, it was a regular Soho area, run-down, with Gerrard Street the main thoroughfare.