Abbey Road connections

Want to hear a great story?  One Sunday lunchtime I was visiting my in-laws with my family and we started a game called ‘what’s your claim to fame?’  The response from my father-in-law, Len, made me almost fall off my chair when he announced that his ‘claim to fame’ was being on the front cover of The Beatles Abbey Road album!  My reply was a very loud ‘WHAT!’  My raised voice brought my wife and mother-in-law running into the garden where we were sitting.  Even my wife, Len’s daughter was unaware of his ‘claim to fame’.  My father-in-law was so matter of fact about his revelation, he couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about which remains in my mind to this day. 

If you have this album or poster I am sure you are rushing to find it.  When we returned home we got our copy of Abbey Road down from the loft to inspect it and sure enough, there was Len on the front cover.  If you look at the top left hand side of the album there are some men standing in white overalls looking towards the zebra crossing.  Len told us that he and some other workmen had been painting a block of flats when they saw something ‘going on’ up the road so went out to investigate and saw the photographers.  After a while they realised The Beatles were being photographed and it took several ‘crossings’ by The Beatles until the photographers were satisfied they had captured the iconic image for the album cover.

Many of my clients request a trip to Abbey Road so they can be photographed in the style of The Beatles on the zebra crossing which I am happy to do.  I always tell clients about my father-in-law and I’m able to point out exactly where he was standing.  It is an amazing story, one which I will never tire of re-telling.

Capers in Crouch End

Hello again!  Want to hear something spooky?  Some clients recently booked an all day tour with me, Ann, her grandson Bailey and best friend Jackie, from the USA.  It was a pleasure for me to be able to show them the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of London, and I never cease to have a great time myself!  After we had got to know each other Bailey commented that he was a fan of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and requested a drive round Crouch End where it was filmed.  As I always encourage my clients to ask for specific things they would like to see in London, I was only too pleased to oblige.  We had a stop for lunch at The Grenadier Pub so I could check out some details of locations we could visit.  By the way, The Grenadier is another story – this is a pub which is haunted by an officer of the First Guards, every September, who was caught cheating at cards and was flogged to death.  While we were in the pub I had a chat to the landlord and asked if he had ever seen the ghost.  He replied that he hadn’t, but whilst cleaning the bar area early one morning he popped upstairs for something and on his return found the hoover had switched itself on!  Whooooooooo!  But that’s not the only spooky part of the blog.

After a great lunch off to Crouch End we went.  We found the location where ‘Shaun’ lived as well as the street where he trips up the kerb going to the shop every morning in the film.  I decided to add another location to the tour known as ‘Suicide Bridge’ which is high up above Highgate with a great view of London.  We parked the cow cab and walked a few meters when we noticed some filming taking place.  The group of actors were dressed in big ears and duck feet so we decided to investigate further.  We approached them and they told us they were filming a film due out next year called ‘Absolutely Anything’, directed by Terry Jones and Simon Pegg!  We all froze!  What a coincidence to be there on the very day of filming - the only time I have ever taken clients to Crouch End on a tour!  We saw Terry Jones, but unfortunately Simon Pegg had just left.  We were all amazed but Bailey especially loved it, and I was happy he had experienced more than just seeing film locations

Nothing is too much trouble to incorporate into your London Cabbie Tour, just leave it all to me, I relish a challenge!

Accessibility is fundamental to London Cabbie Tours

Hi everyone! Steve here from London Cabbie Tours, sharing my thoughts here on my very own blog.

One of the things I pride myself on is providing a service to those people with accessibility requirements. Why should the elderly or very young; or those with mobility problems miss out on seeing the best of London’s sites?

A quick perusal of my 53 reviews on TripAdvisor (each one given ‘5 stars out of 5’) shows that I have lots of experience in providing London tours to people with accessibility requirements, and each time have designed a unique experience for them to enjoy.

In addition to my personal passion for assisting customers with special accessibility requirements, my licensed London taxi is specially designed to cater to these needs. My taxi has wheelchair ramps and safety belts to ensure a safe, comfortable journey. In addition, I am able to get extremely close to the fantastic historical sites of London, with no risk of potentially getting lost on the trek from tube station or bus stop.

For our younger ‘Londoners’ my taxi is equipped with a safety certificated child seat, providing an elevated and secure spot for them to view the sites of London. For elderly customers, my taxi provides a secure, warm environment; with a pick-up/drop-off service as standard. A recent customer left these kind comments on my TripAdvisor page:

“Just visited my daughter in London this Bank Holiday weekend accompanied by my mother (age 90) and booked the London Taxi Tour with Steve for 2 hours. The whole experience worked very well for us all. Steve arrived exactly on time and was incredibly personable making it very comfortable to be in his company. He was most helpful and accommodating towards Grandma and her needs which was key for the trip”

I try not to be critical of the various London bus tours that clatter around London, but accessibility is a personal passion of mine, and something I consider fundamental to London Cabbie Tours. Please don’t avoid London because you are worried about having to catch lots of tube trains, or wait in the cold for a London bus tour. Book a tour with me and I can guarantee it will be built around your specific needs and requirements – whatever they may be.

Bye for now! Steve.

Jack the Ripper

Hello again and Happy New Year!

Thank you everyone for your great support especially the last ten months since I have been on Trip Advisor.  If you haven’t already noticed I have hit the ‘bullseye’ and reached 50 reviews – this puts me up to the giddy heights of 23 out of 525 activities in London.

I’d like to let you know what I’ve been up to lately apart from my tours.  Well I’m not able to give up my day job yet (as the saying goes).  I entertained myself recently with an evening tour around Whitechapel – the home of the infamous Jack the Ripper.

The evening being cold and dark gave an eerie atmosphere to the Ripper tour – well as much as it could walking around with 35 other people!  The guide was excellent and I enjoyed the tour very much.  We were transported back to the time of 1888 between the months of August and November, the events of which are still talked about even to this day. 

There were six murders of ‘ladies of the night’ who surely were guilty of only one thing and that was being poor.  Their ghastly ends are not for the feint-hearted.  Five of the victims having their throats cut from ‘ear to ear’.  The last victim could have had her throat cut too, but Mary Jane Kelly, the Ripper’s last victim’s body had been so badly mutilated it was hard to tell.  During the tour we heard about body parts being stolen and even of letters received wrapped around body parts, truly horrific tales. 

As I walked along the narrow street after the tour on my way back to my ‘cow’ cab, I jumped at every noise and footstep behind me!

Until next time.


Ironmonger Lane

Hello again!  Just a few lines to let you know how things have been going at London Cabbie Tours.  Thank you very much for all your kind reviews, your interest and your confidence in my tours.  Little did I know, when one of my customers told me about Trip Advisor, that I would be climbing the ratings to the dizzy height of number 47 out of 480 activities in London.  There have been 26 reviews giving the tours a 5 out of 5 rating.  Your enthusiasm feeds my enthusiasm, and I will continue to offer bespoke tours to your requirements, which not only keeps the tours fresh but also my interest is fuelled researching the sites you want to see!

I would like to tell you about an application that I made recently for a place on a course to study a City Guides Course of London at the Guildhall.  In my application I was required to explain why I wanted to participate in the course.  It also involved an interview in front of 2 examiners and 3 fellow students where I had to talk, after prior research, for 5 minutes on a given subject which was Ironmonger Lane in the City of London.  My presentation on Ironmonger Lane follows:

If you are standing in front of the Guildhall entrance, I would ask you to cross the Guildhall Yard to Gresham Street.  Facing you is King Street, this road was built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666, to relieve the only 2 narrow streets which led to the Guildhall – Lawrence Lane and Ironmonger Lane.  It was said that wealthier people’s carriages were unable to pass each other as the lanes were too narrow. 

As we take a walk down Ironmonger Lane towards Cheapside (as the name suggests a lane inhabited largely by ironmongers until they moved to Fenchurch Street in the 15th century).  We pass number 11, which contains one of the few in situ remnants of Roman London, a section of mosaic pavement with a series of floral motifs, which was part of a Roman house of the 2nd century.

If we follow the road further we have St. Olave’s House (now a solicitor’s office) which was the church of St. Olaves, which lies between Ironmonger Lane and Old Jewry.  It was also destroyed in the Great Fire of London and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren in 1679.  It cost £5,580 - £10 of that money was paid to the then still ruined St. Paul’s Cathedral for rubble.  It was demolished in 1887, except for the tower and the West wall. 

Mercers HallFurther down the lane is Mercer’s Hall (latin for merchant) the number one Livery Company of the City of London’s 12 great City Livery Companies, given Royal Charter in 1394, but believed to be of older origin.  The Company’s aim was to act as a trade association for general merchants and especially for exporters of wool and importers of velvet, silk and other luxurious fabrics.  Today the Mercer’s Company is more of a charitable organisation.  The Company’s motto is ‘Honor Deo’, Latin for Honour to God.  The first Mercer’s hall on this site was lost to the Great Fire of London in 1666, second to the Blitz in 1941 and the third which stands today was built in May 1958.  The hall incorporates fittings from the old hall, 17th century woodwork and Victorian stained glass.  The Mercer’s Company is the only Livery company to have its own private chapel.  There are three ways to become a member:

  • Membership of parents
  • Freedom of Redemption (by interview and if approved, pay a small sum of money called ‘a fine’.
  • Honour the individual (e.g. Winston Churchill)

As we approach the end of Ironmonger Lane at the junction with Cheapside, on our left is the site where Thomas Beckett was born in 1120.  Beckett was made Archdeacon of Canterbury in 1154.  He gained a position in the household of Theobald of Bec, the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Under his guidance, Beckett was sent on important missions to Rome and studied Canon Law in France.  Beckett was named Lord Chancellor in 1155.  An interesting fact is that some Royal children were fostered out to noble households.  Henry II sent his son, Henry, to live in Beckett’s household, in which Henry said he received more fatherly love from Beckett in one day, than his father showed in his entire life.  Beckett was made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162.  Henry II hoped Beckett would put the Royal Government first rather than that of the church which was not to be, and conflict ensued over the rights and privileges of the church.  Beckett fled to exile in France in 1164 until 1170, and on his return was murdered by four knights of the King in Canterbury Cathedral.  He was martyred in 1173.

Interaction is the Essence of a Good Tour

Hello everybody!

Just a few lines to give you all an update – the tours are going very well and the reviews are fantastic!  I cannot thank you all enough for taking the time to write about your tour experience.

The tours you have requested have been wide and varied. From London’s haunted pubs to famous musical landmarks; from historical Roman tours to a tour of the famous Royal Palaces.  When I first started my tours I stated that I would only pick up from London addresses, but as your needs have demanded, I have adapted my tours to suit you.  As anyone who has been on one of my tours would tell you, I endeavour to give people their perfectly-tailored, personalised tour - whether it is a two hour, four hour or all day tour.

I cater for everyone – from the very young, to elderly visitors to London. My taxi has a booster seat conforming to British Safety Standards allowing the younger tourist a perfect view of London’s sites. My taxi is also completely wheelchair accessible and I have experience of providing tours for people with specific accessibility requirements.

My T.V.P. (top visual priority) must be spot on – my combination of history, humour and stories just so.  When you come on one of my tours, you don’t just sit and listen to a recorded commentary, you listen to me!  Steve.  One cabbie.  One cab.  Interaction is the essence of my tour – mostly I tell you things, but sometimes it’s the other way round and you tell me things!  When people tell me facts and stories it increases my knowledge too. I give you questions and quizzes – do we just sit and look at London?  No! We are in and out of the cab.  We are not just in London, we are part of London – living the London experience!  Let me take photos of you with the famous and not so famous sites of London or take photos yourselves.  Freedom is the name of the game – go where you want and when you want.  Don’t just sit on the buses – get out there, see it all if you think you can.  Let’s do it together, we can give it a try.

This great capital city London, founded by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago deserves more than a London tour bus – give me a try.  Contact me with your requirements and I will tailor a tour just for you!

Quick update

Hello Everyone,

I’ve lots to tell you about since my last blog.  The tours are going well – check out the reviews on Trip Advisor.  Thanks to the reviews coming in from all around the world including the USA, Malaysia, Canada and Malta as well as closer to home, London Cabbie Tours is rated 93 out of 431 activities in London!  This means I have achieved my first aim which was to be in the top 100.

My tours appeal to all ages – from my youngest passenger of 4 years old, right up to the grand age of 90 years old (can anyone beat that)!  I am able to cater for any age and any disability as the cab has a ramp for wheelchair access with plenty of room inside.

I excel at being one man, one cab.  Being able to tailor the tour to any requests is a unique element of my business.

Leave the tour bus behind and enjoy YOUR tour, viewing the sites YOU want to see, in the comfort of a London Taxi with London Cabbie Tours.

Frosts, freezes & fairs

Hello again! It’s Steve from London Cabbie Tours here, I’ve been giving lots of taxi tours around London lately, of course with the heating in my taxi set to ‘lovely & warm’! I’m not sure the London Tour Bus Company can make the same claim – it looks pretty chilly up on that top deck at the moment!

Given the recent icy weather, I thought I would tell you a bit about previous icy winters, as well as some insight into frosts, freezes & fairs.

The winter of 1947 was particularly bad, when snow fell heavily in England, and somewhere in the country saw snow every day for 55 days straight. We had snow drifts of seven metres deep, frozen rivers & icy temperatures. February 1947 was the coldest February on record in many places, however this was trumped by 1963, which was the coldest for more than 200 years. The sea even froze in several places! On Boxing day 30cm of snow arrived, along with blizzards and snowdrifts. The snow stayed for two more months, before finally thawing in early March. These two winters made living here feel more like the Arctic, than the UK. Brrrrrr I feel cold even writing about it!

If you book one of my private taxi tours, I actually take you to Southwark, where we discuss frosts, freezes & fairs in more detail. The earliest recorded ‘frost fair’ was in 1608. At these fairs there were horse & coach races, Ox roasting, and groups of musicians playing. Stalls were pitched along each embankment, selling everything from novelties to fresh mutton pies. There was also a fuddling tent, which sold alcohol. There was a story of a lady who drunk too much & ended up crashing through the ice. Whilst sinking into the icy depths the ice closed shut, severing her head & reports of the time told of her head bouncing along the ice. Ouch! The watermen who usually earned a living by ferrying people across the River Thames had to find other work, so they would clear pathways across the ice for rich people. The last frost fair was in 1814, although I did hear a rumour that Boris had one planned for last week!

Hope you like that little snippet of info. Bye for now, Steve.

A tour of Westminster Hall

Hello again! Steve from London Cabbie Tours here.

I have been out and about in my London taxi, this time being invited by my local MP to visit the Houses of Parliament. Obviously given the sheer size of this historic site I can’t go into detail on all aspects of the building, however I wanted to tell you about Westminster Hall, my favourite part of the Houses of Parliament – with its history of nearly 1000 years.

Westminster Hall

After encountering tough security to enter (I’m sure Guy Fawkes had just as much trouble), our small group were met by a tour guide. The Westminster Hall was built in 1097 by William Rufus, the son of William the Conqueror, and finished in two years. It is the only remaining part of the old Palace of Westminster, and was the largest hall in England, covering about 17,000 square feet with a length of almost four cricket pitches end to end.

I couldn’t but stare in amazement at the two-metre thick walls, and then was physically stunned by the splendor and beauty of the hammer-beam room commissioned in 1393 by King Richard III – truly a masterpiece of design! It is the largest medieval timber roof in Northern Europe, designed by the mason Henry Yevele and Hugh Herland. Giant oak beams provided horizontal support and the walls were strengthened with massive buttresses. Other additions included angels carved on beams and sculptures of England’s Kings. It is amazing to think that the King didn’t believe the hall to be big, but said “it was a mere bedchamber” when compared to what he had in mind! The hall has played host to lots of Royal events from feasts to jousts in front of hundreds of guests.

In 1812 Westminster Hall was flooded by the Thames, it was said “the tide soon rose to the door, flowed in, and three or four boats full of men went into the hall’. For a few years the hall was the venue for coronation banquets for newly-crowned monarachs. At Richard III’s coronation banquet, the King’s champion rode through the hall on horseback, challenging anyone to deny the Kings right to succeed. In 1834, there was a great fire which destroyed most of the buildings of the Houses of Parliament, however a decision was made to save the hall.

Before the Royal courts of justice were in the strand many high profile legal trials were held in the hall, including Sir William Wallace, the Scottish patriot. He was found guilty and hung, drawn and quartered at Smithfield on 23rd August 1305. His head was put on a spike on the gate of London bridge, and his limbs displayed in four parts of the United Kingdom. Other trials included Sir Thomas More (1535), advisor to Henry VIII; Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder plot (1606); and the most famous of them all the Trial of Charles I.

Why not book a London taxi tour, and hear more stories of the famous figures above? London is packed full of history, let me show you around some of the fantastic sites the capital has to offer!

Bye for now, Steve.

A Trip to Aldwych Station

Hello everybody!

For my first ever blog entry I would like to tell you about a trip I made just before Christmas on 30th November 2012 to visit Aldwych – the secret station, which is a grade II listed building.

How pleased was I to receive a ticket to visit this station, knowing my visit would be a rare treat because owing to health and safety reasons (the lifts not working) opening the station platforms for frequent public tours was not possible.  The station stands on the site of The Royal Strand Theatre and was constructed in 1905.  It opened as The Strand Station on 30th November 1907, later renamed Aldwych in 1915.

The Piccadilly line was one of three new tube railways under central London completed in 1906/7 by the Underground Electric Railways Company of London.  Aldwych was a southern spur from these railway lines (Holborn to Aldwych).  There was a mystery about this spur but it is thought it was a plan to send the tube line south to Waterloo, although after several plans were submitted, none were accepted.  The station has a double track, as has Holborn Station, but only one track was ever used.  Platform A was used for trains and film-making.  Platform B was lost and forgotten.  Some films that were filmed there included ‘Superman 4’, ‘The Krays’, ‘Patriot Games’, ‘Atonement’, and ’28 Weeks Later’.  Also, the music video for Prodigy’s song ‘Firestarter’.

Steve at Aldwych underground station

I think the Aldwych Station will always remain famous for its Second World War days, as from 1940 – 1946 it was used as an air raid shelter for almost 1,500 civilians protecting them from falling bombs.  Fortunately there was never a direct hit on the station, unlike some others.

I cannot sign off without telling you about the ghost of an actress who is believed to have worked at the original theatre, she has frightened some line engineers down at track level at night!  Sadly the station closed in 1994.

Bye for now. Steve.