Sunday, 28 February 2010

Victory Assured!

Following on from David's Twitter post this morning, here's his full report on the events of 28th February 1943…



All the axial lines lead to London. Well, just about all of them. You step back far enough you're going to be getting the Chinese inventing gunpowder and the agricultural revolution and, for heaven's sakes, an ape-like creature coming down out of a tree. And none of those happened in London, it goes without saying.

But this side of "the hinge century" - as we call that walk in the London History course (it's scheduled for October 16th at 2.30 pm in the Summer 2010 programme) - it feels, and deservedly so, as if this little acre was the centre of the universe.

Indeed, I've been known to speak of London's being the mise en scene for "the two most important moments in the 20th century". (Brian's Literary Bloomsbury Pub Walk on Wednesday night takes us to one of those two spots; the other one gets tackled from time to time on our Old Westminster Walk).

But I think the time has come to speak of "the three most important moments in the 20th century". It was conceived in London. And it bore fruit on February 28th, 1943. So, yup, today's the anniversary of one of the three most important moments of the 20th century! (How's that for a "did you know London factoid" to impress your pals with?)

Any of you who are London Walks Twitterees will by now have had an "alert". It was the Twitter that was headlined: "Hitler's Atomic Bomb Kaput!"

Here's the full story. Which is by way of saying, hats off to Operation Gunnerside! Conceived in London and brought to fruition at Vemork, near Rjukan, in Norway on the night of 27-28 February 1943. What Operation Gunnerside did was blast into smithereens the heavy water (deuterium oxide) plant in the Norsk Hydro complex.

The counter factual history hardly bears thinking about. Had that operation not been carried out the Nazis would have had all the heavy water they needed for the manufacture of atomic weapons.

And it didn't just break that vital link in the chain. It led to the "chain reaction" that the allies wanted more than anything - it led to Hitler losing confidence in his scientists' research into splitting the atom. It led, in short, to the effective abandonment of the Nazis' atomic bomb programme.

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Saturday, 27 February 2010

From the LW Blog Postbag



In the run-up to St Valentine’s Day we came over all lovey-dovey and asked of you: Why Do You You Lovelondon?

We were, of course, making the assumption that you loved London in the first place. Turns out we were right to be so presumptuous. Here are a few of your responses:


“I love London because of the ambiance the city gives off. I remember my last trip there in October 2009 and as we flew over the city I said ‘I'm home again’. I was so sad about leaving I cried all the way to the airport. I love the walking, the rain, the tiny little cars that I call your version of the US SUV ☺ There is not one thing I don't love about it!!!”

Barbara G Lovejoy via Facebook.

Thanks Barbara. We’ve laid on some extra rain just especially for you ☺ and we look forward to “welcoming you home” soon.


“I love the theatre… and London Walks a very close 2nd”

Sande Newton via Facebook

Thanks Sande. A privilege to take silver medal in your estimation. The London Theatre is the world’s finest.


“I love the pubs in the Mews – Dover Castle, The Grenadier, Wilton Arms.”

Kathy Softley via Facebook

Cheers Kathy! And on the subject of substances not to tell your doctor about, we had this from Susan, commenting on Ann’s recent Chocolate Blog post:


“For me the sweet, milky British chocolate is the best. I had always wanted to try Hershey's chocolate but when I finally went to America and bought some it was absolutely disgusting! They don't do chocolate like we do here. The chocolate walk sounds like a good idea!”

Susan, we’re of a mind to agree with you there – but we should probably just add, Dear Mr Hershey, that we at the London Walks Blog quite like your stuff too! ☺ Keep in touch Susan, see you out there.


We already posted this next one on Valentine’s Day, but we think it stands up to a re-run (call us Romantic old fools, we don’t care!)…

“What do I love about London? All the parks, especially Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. I love that a city like London has so much green space scattered about… you'd be walking along and out of nowhere would pop up a green space or three.

There is a reason why I'll always have a special place in my heart for Kensington Gardens though: this past May, that is where my fiancé got down on his knee and asked me to marry him! I was completely floored, and couldn't believe he had come up with such a perfect spot. As if there wasn't reason enough before, we will definitely be back to enjoy these parks.

Angela (and Jeremy) via Facebook

PS- Celebrating the engagement with all those London Walks (with Richard, Fiona, and several with David – thank you for all those stories and tips!) sure didn't hurt either; they helped make the entire trip special.”

Thanks Angela and Jeremy – and congratulations once more!


And finally… we picked up this last one on Twitter. It was posted a few days after Valentine’s Day, by Gratyork, commenting on the Twitter trending Topic #Lovelondon:

“Watching the rain fall on a London street is the best mood-lifting drug ever!”

We agree! Well, we would, wouldn’t we! As soon as we saw it we Re-Tweeted it immediately. Thanks for looking on the bright side Gratyork. We’d like to dedicate your Tweet to all the hardy, jolly, indomitable London Walkers who have joined us regardless of the weather this winter. Thanks for walking with us: spring is just around the corner. And we all love that.

Keep in touch.

LW Blog
X

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Wednesday, 24 February 2010

South London Double Bill!

Sunday 28th February is South London Day at London Walks. In the morning we’ll be here…



… at Crystal Palace chasing the F.A Cup, the Great Exhibition and the ghost of the very Empire itself.


In the afternoon, we’re along the railway line a little at…



… Forest Hill. That’s what she looked like 100 years ago in 1910.


The Crystal Palace Walk meets at Crystal Palace Station at 10.45a.m on Sunday 28th February. The Forest Hill Walk meets later that same day at 2.30p.m at Forest Hill Station.

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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Plaque of the Week No.23

The Pokey. The Jug. Stir. Banged Up.



Commemorating: Newgate
Street: Newgate Street
Borough: The City of London

Newgate. The word always sounds so inspiring, redolent of fresh starts and portals to paths never before taken. Portals which are sure to lead to a better world. A new world through Newgate. It could be the name and slogan for a chichi new property development.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The rather grand City of London plaque commemorates the site of Newgate which, in turn, gave its name top London’s most notorious. Cutpurses, murderers, blackmailers, torturers, extortionists… and those were just the guards.

Famous inmates include the writer Daniel Defoe, William Penn and the infamous Captain Kidd. In its later years it provided a final earthly home to such miscreants as Thomas Neill Cream, the Lambeth Poisoner.

It’s only natural that a place of such wickedness and suffering should have left a few spiritual marks behind. Find them on the Ghosts of the Old City walk every Tuesday and Saturday.

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Monday, 22 February 2010

In and Around… The Old University Quarter

Some shots taken on and around the route of a most deliciously “secret” walk, The Old University Quarter (Fridays at 2.00p.m). (With thanks to the wonderful Grant Museum of Zoology for the first shot, see London Links on the right.)













The Old University Quarter walk meets at Russell Square station at 2.00p.m every Friday


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