http://www.cabbieblog.com Taxi talk without tips Thu, 22 Jun 2017 00:13:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 110381589 Parliamentary peculiars http://www.cabbieblog.com/parliamentary-peculiars/ http://www.cabbieblog.com/parliamentary-peculiars/#respond Tue, 20 Jun 2017 13:50:00 +0000 http://www.cabbieblog.com/?p=19743 Anomalies are to be found in the Palace of Westminster

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Tomorrow will see The State Opening of Parliament, and although our political masters have promised it to be the last for two years, the political commentators are predicting it won’t even be the last one this year, as we could have another election in the near future.

The State Opening has many traditions, Black Rod knocking on the door to gain admittance, the speech which is referred to as ‘A Humble Address’ or the ‘Loyal Address’.

Many other anomalies are to be found in the Palace of Westminster. A snuff box is situated by the door of the Commons. Smoking has been banned since the 17th century, so a full box if snuff is provided should Members require.

Hooks are provided in the cloakroom so one may hang one’s sword, they were barred from the Chamber.

The mace, which once was a weapon is carried before Black Rod. The last time the ‘weapon’ was used in anger was by Michael Heseltine. On the 27th May 1976, the government was attempting to steer the hotly contested Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill through the Commons. The vote on an amendment had been tied and was lost on the Speaker’s vote, Heseltine had to be restrained from using the mace presumably upon the Speaker’s head.

The colours of green (Commons) and red (Lords) are denoted on the carpets, benches and Westminster and Lambeth bridges, although no-one quite knows why those colours were chosen.

The expression ‘in the bag’ comes from a rather worn velvet bag, called the Petition Bag, which hangs on the back of the Speaker’s chair. Where, if you believe, shy Members could leave petitions to be considered.

Emily Wilding Davidson (who would subsequently die under the King’s horse at Ascot) hid in a cupboard on census night, so she could give her address as ‘The House of Commons’. The late Tony Benn would show his guests the stationery cupboard.

In a kind of quasi-religious icon worshiping, Members touch the statues of their favourite dead politicians when passing, they say Margaret Thatcher is particularly favoured.

The Commons Chamber can only accommodate 427 for the 650 members, Churchill was reputedly in favour of keeping the seating to a minimum after bomb damage necessitated rebuilding, so he wouldn’t have too much opposition to his speeches.

Two red line along its floor of the Commons Chamber, which are 8-foot apart, just over two sword lengths, just in case Members flout the rule of ‘no swords’ and don’t hang them in the cloakroom.

There is the talk of moving the whole of Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre while 5-years of maintenance takes place.

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London Trivia: Fig-uring it out http://www.cabbieblog.com/london-trivia-fig-uring-it-out/ http://www.cabbieblog.com/london-trivia-fig-uring-it-out/#respond Sun, 18 Jun 2017 13:50:20 +0000 http://www.cabbieblog.com/?p=15597 Weekly nuggets of triviality posted every Sunday each with a short essay relating to the day in question along with 10 other pieces of useless information, read weekly or dip in and out

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On 18 June 1822 the ’countrywomen of England’ had an embarrassing surprise having contributed to a 18ft tall figure of Achilles as a way of honouring the Duke of Wellington living close by in Apsley House. Said to be in the Duke’s likeness, it was the first nude public statue in London. Standing an impressive 36ft on its plinth his manhood was equally notable. The women had a touch of the vapours and a fig leaf was attached. The organic codpiece has twice had attempts at removal.

On 18 June 1583 Richard Martin, an Alderman arranged an insurance policy for William Gibbons, a salter. At 8 per cent over 8 months it was the world’s first known insurance policy

The Old Bailey’s Blind Justice roof statue is unusual in not having a blindfold. Her impartiality is said to be shown by her ‘maidenly form’

In Gough Square off Fleet Street is a statue of Hodge, the pet cat of Dr Samuel Johnson, writer and lexicographer who lived nearby

A macabre statistic is that the most popular suicide time on London’s Underground is around eleven in the morning

Greek Street is named after mass of Greek Christians who arrived in London around 1670 after being persecuted under Ottoman rule

The nude cover shot for John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1968 album ‘Two Virgins’ was taken at their flat at 38 Montagu Square

The Prospect of Whitby pub dates from 1520 and is named after ‘The Prospect’ a Whitby registered coal boat moored there in the 18th century

Tim Berners-Lee appeared in the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony – a US TV commentator had no idea who he was so suggested viewers Google him

The station with the most platforms is Baker Street with 10 (Moorgate also has 10 platforms but only six are used by Tube trains – others are used by overground trains)

Harry Beck produced the well known Tube map diagram while working as an engineering draughtsman at the London Underground Signals Office. He was reportedly paid 10 guineas (£10.50) for his efforts

Colehearne Court in Brompton Road was Princess Diana’s home in the early 1980’s when she charged two flatmates £18 a week rent

CabbieBlog-cab.gifTrivial Matter: London in 140 characters is taken from the daily Twitter feed @cabbieblog.
A guide to the symbols used here and source material can be found on the Trivial Matter page.

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The London Grill: Kimberley Chambers http://www.cabbieblog.com/london-grill-kimberley-chambers/ http://www.cabbieblog.com/london-grill-kimberley-chambers/#respond Fri, 16 Jun 2017 13:50:00 +0000 http://www.cabbieblog.com/?p=19649 We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way […]

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We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.

Kimberley-ChambersSunday Times #1 bestselling author Kimberley Chambers lives in Hornchurch and has been, at various times, a disc jockey, a cab driver and a street trader. She is now a full-time writer. Join Kimberley’s legion of legendary fans on facebook.com/kimberleychambersofficial and @kimbochambers on Twitter

What’s your secret London tip?
Always haggle. You can find yourself a great bargain in London’s markets – and even negotiate on price in some shops.

What’s your secret London place?
It’s not exactly secret but, given it’s the only surviving track, I’d recommend a night at the dogs in Romford.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
I’m a terrible commuter, and I always seem to get stuck on the Tube at rush hour. I should probably get more black cabs!

Backstabber

What’s your favourite building?
It would have been White Hart Lane, had it not just been knocked down

What’s your most hated building?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the Emirates!

What’s the best view in London?
I love sitting and having a drink by Butler’s Wharf, and looking out at the river and the old docks, imagining what it was like in its heyday

What’s your personal London landmark?
It would be Roman Road Market – I used to work down there in the 80s, and it really was the place to be

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
I adored Julien Temple’s London: the Modern Babylon – it’s an amazing portrait of London in the good old days

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
I used to drink regularly in the Horn of Plenty in Stepney, it was one of London’s great traditional boozers.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
Shopping, of course – so it would be a mooch around Harrods, followed by a decent meal in Chinatown and a few drinks with friends in an old East End pub.

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Orange Cab http://www.cabbieblog.com/orange-cab/ http://www.cabbieblog.com/orange-cab/#respond Tue, 13 Jun 2017 13:50:00 +0000 http://www.cabbieblog.com/?p=19698 old cabs never die

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Another in the occasional series ‘old cabs never die’ Here I found this dazzler in Essex (where else?). Bizarrely it’s advertising a skip company and is to be found on the A127 near Upminster. It still looks in pristine condition, soon it will be covered with dirt being so close to a 4-lane dual carriageway. The company is called Skip It Essex is that what one should do? Skip Essex

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London Trivia: Amorous intrigue http://www.cabbieblog.com/london-trivia-amorous-intrigue/ http://www.cabbieblog.com/london-trivia-amorous-intrigue/#respond Sun, 11 Jun 2017 13:50:19 +0000 http://www.cabbieblog.com/?p=15595 Weekly nuggets of triviality posted every Sunday each with a short essay relating to the day in question along with 10 other pieces of useless information, read weekly or dip in and out

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On 11 June 1763 the world’s most famous lover arrived in London. Thirty-eight year-old Giacomo Girolamo Casanova from Venice came to rekindle his friendship with Mrs. Cornelys. Unfortunately an assignation with a Livonian Baron’s mistress 9 months later caused him to leave abruptly on 11 March 1764. His subsequent autobiography Story of My Life is regarded as one of the most authentic sources of the customs and norms of European social life during the 18th century.

On 11 June 1819 a Mr. Mortimer sent a girl to collect two of his other children from school popping into a grocer’s in Rathbone Place she returned to find this children gone along with the woman caring for them

Marc Isambard Brunel came up with his idea on how to dig the Thames Tunnel whilst in debtors’ prison watching a shipworm bore through wood

18th century writer Samuel Johnson’s cat Hodge has a statue in Gough Square. Next to Hodge are oysters, his favourite food

Nell Gywnn, orange seller and mistress to Charles II was born in the Coal Yard, now Stukeley Street off Drury Lane in 1650

In June 1815 Major Henry Percy interrupted a ball at 16 St James Sq. to announce that 3 days earlier we had defeated the French at Waterloo

Starring Hugh Jackman, Ian McShane and Scarlett Johansson Woody Allen’s romantic comedy Scoop wasn’t given a London cinema release

In Regency times Bond Street was more popular with male shoppers such as royal fashion adviser Beau Brummell

The colour scheme at Boston Manor Tube station was inspired by local team Brentford FC’s nickname – ‘The Bees’

The longest journey without change is on the Central line from West Ruislip to Epping, and is a total of 34.1 miles

Hoare’s Bank, Fleet Street first operated from the Golden Bottle in Cheapside in 1672. Customers have included Samuel Pepys and John Dryden

Byward Street near the Tower of London takes its name from the word ‘byword’, meaning password, which was used at the Tower each evening

CabbieBlog-cab.gifTrivial Matter: London in 140 characters is taken from the daily Twitter feed @cabbieblog.
A guide to the symbols used here and source material can be found on the Trivial Matter page.

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Mummified Londoners http://www.cabbieblog.com/mummified-londoners/ http://www.cabbieblog.com/mummified-londoners/#respond Fri, 09 Jun 2017 13:50:00 +0000 http://www.cabbieblog.com/?p=19635 The real head was displayed in the same case for many years, but became the target of repeated student pranks including being stolen on more than one occasion

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The most famous mummies to be found in London are in the British Museum, but these are Egyptians, not Londoners who have been embalmed.

So in an effort to redress the balance here a four of London’s finest desiccated deceased once living in the capital.

All these four have rather curious histories after having shuffled off this mortal coil.

An object of desire
Catherine-of-Valois tomb

Catherine of Volas tomb effigy

We wouldn’t know of Catherine of Volas but for an entry in a famous diary. Dying in 1437 Henry V’s Queen was embalmed and buried at Westminster Abbey. Half a century later alterations to the Abbey necessitated placing her coffin above ground. There she stayed, and for more than 200 years she remained an object of curiosity, with the public paying 1/- (5p) to view her corpse lying in an open coffin.

That old reprobate, Samuel Pepys in his diary wrote of treating himself on his 36 birthday

. . . and I had the upper part of her body in my hands, and I did kiss her mouth, reflecting upon it that I did kiss a Queen and that this was my birth-day, thirty-six years old, that I did first kiss a Queen.

A Skeleton in the Closet
Jeremy-Bentham
Jeremy Bentham was an English jurist, philosopher, legal and social reformer and was best known for the concept of animal rights. In his will, he requested that his body was preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet, termed his ‘Auto-icon’. Originally kept by Dr Southwood Smith, it was acquired by University College London in 1850. The Auto-icon is kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the College. For the 100th and 150th anniversaries of the college, the Auto-icon was brought to the meeting of the College Council, where he was listed as ‘present but not voting’. According to the university, it is a myth that the Auto-icon casts the deciding vote in meetings in the event of a tie. The Auto-icon has always had a wax head, as Bentham’s head was badly damaged in the preservation process. The real head was displayed in the same case for many years, but became the target of repeated student pranks including being stolen on more than one occasion. It is now locked away securely.

Air dried
London’s only mediaeval true mummy is in the church of St. James Garlickhythe. ‘Jimmy Garlick’ was discovered by workmen in 1839 while excavating under the chancel. Thoroughly desiccated by time the corpse of a young man had been dried by natural mummification – a rare event in London’s climate.

An excellent account with images of Jimmy Garlick when he was exhumed can be found at Revisiting old Jimmy Garlick.

Where there’s a will . . .
Martin-van-Butchell
Martin van Butchell had an unusual marriage contract with his wife. The wife had an unusual clause written into the 18th-century contract. It stated certain articles could only be retained while [his wife] remained ‘above ground ‘.

Upon her demise, Martin had her body embalmed, dressed in her wedding clothes and placed in a glass-topped case positioned in his drawing room.

In so doing he drew large crowds to view, what he described as “dear departed”.

His new wife begged to differ and the body was presented to the Royal College of Surgeons, remaining there (above ground) until 1941 when a German finally laid her to rest.

Images: Jeremy Bentham by Matt Brown (CC BY 3.0)
Martin van Butchell: The Crazy Dentist and the Display of his Embalmed Wife by All That is Odd

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A potted history of cabs http://www.cabbieblog.com/potted-history-cabs/ http://www.cabbieblog.com/potted-history-cabs/#comments Tue, 06 Jun 2017 13:50:52 +0000 http://www.cabbieblog.com/?p=19581 By granting an extension to Uber’s licence to operate in London Sadiq Khan appears to have given up supporting the London Taxi Trade unlike Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Alaska, Iceland, China, Taiwan. As the world’s oldest cab trade starts its […]

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By granting an extension to Uber’s licence to operate in London Sadiq Khan appears to have given up supporting the London Taxi Trade unlike Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Alaska, Iceland, China, Taiwan. As the world’s oldest cab trade starts its slow slide into oblivion here is a short post on its long history.

In the early 1600 Hackney carriages, or ‘Hackney Hell-Carts, appeared on London’s streets.

1635
The first recognised cab rank established by Captain Bailey at the Maypole in the Strand (where St Mary-le-Strand church is today).

1636
King Charles I issued a proclamation restricting the number of Hackney coaches to just 50, and they were only allowed to pick up passengers who were travelling more than 3 miles.

1654
Oliver Cromwell orders the Court of Aldermen of the City of London to grant licences to 200 hackney coachmen. A 6-mile limit was imposed as London’s chain of defences, that had been erected during the Civil War in 1642, only extended to that perimeter and beyond it was considered unsafe.

1657
These licences are revoked, some say for drunkenness, others that the aldermen favoured Cavaliers to Roundheads.

1660
Restoration of the Monarchy leads to restoration of licences.

1662
The Hackney Coach Office is set up to regulate the trade.

1679
Introduction of ‘Conditions of Fitness’ for hackney carriages.

1768
The number of hackney licences increases to one thousand.

1784
An Act of Parliament gave the Hackney carriage trade the sole right to use their coaches as ‘hearses and mourning coaches at funerals’.

1833
Duties of the Hackney Coach Office transferred to the Stamp Office.

1834
Joseph Hansom patents his two-wheel cabriolet (the Hansom cab).

1836
A four-wheel version follows – the ‘Clarence’, aka the ‘Growler’.

1843
Control of the cab trade passes from the Stamp Office to the Commissioner of Police and the Public Carriage Office is formed soon after.

1851
Introduction of ‘The Knowledge’ by Police Commissioner, Sir Richard Mayne.

1869
An Act of Parliament gave the Commissioner of Police authority to regulate the manner in which the carriages were to be fitted and furnished, and importantly the number of persons allowed to be carried.

1873
The most famous cab the Hansom by Henry Forder of Wolverhampton was introduced as an improvement on the previous model.

1875
London’s first cab shelter is built, thanks to Captain Armstrong.

1885
The Public Carriage Office moves to premises in Scotland Yard.

1891
Wilhelm Bruhn invents the taximeter.

1891
Walter Bersey launches a fleet of battery-operated cabs.

1897
The first internal-combustion engine cabs are introduced by Prunel, a Frenchman.

1907
Regulations were introduced requiring all cabs to be fitted with a taximeter.

1911
Publication of the first ‘Blue Book’.

1913
The great cab drivers’ strike when cab fleet owners increased fuel charges by 60 per cent.

1927
The Public Carriage Office moves to 109 Lambeth Road and the first taxi school opens, run by the British Legion.

1936
The last licence for a horse-drawn cab is issued (and rescinded the following year).

1939
At the outbreak of the war 2,500 taxis were converted into auxiliary fire fighting engines, ambulances and Army personnel carriers.

1966
The Public Carriage Office moves to 15 Penton Street.

1996
CabbieBlog gets his green badge.

2000
Administration of the Public Carriage Office passes from the Metropolitan Police to Transport for London.

2010
The Public Carriage Office is re-named ‘London Taxi and Private Hire Licensing’ and re-locates to 197 Blackfriars Road.

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London Trivia: We shall never surrender http://www.cabbieblog.com/london-trivia-shall-never-surrender/ http://www.cabbieblog.com/london-trivia-shall-never-surrender/#comments Sun, 04 Jun 2017 13:50:22 +0000 http://www.cabbieblog.com/?p=15593 Weekly nuggets of triviality posted every Sunday each with a short essay relating to the day in question along with 10 other pieces of useless information, read weekly or dip in and out

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On 4 June 1940 Winston Churchill made his most famous speech. Not original, it was based on President Georges Clemenceau’s speech a half century earlier. But was nevertheless a defining moment . . . we shall never surrender. This was the second of three major speeches given around the period of the Battle of France, with the others designated as the Blood, toil, tears, and sweat speech of 13 May, and the This was their finest hour speech of 18 June.

Quite probably on 4 June 1456 a comet appeared in the sky, just after the anti-alien riots. It was subsequently identified as Halley’s Comet

Between 1196 and 1783 more than 50,000 people were hanged at Tyburn, the original was expanded in 1511 into the Tyburn Tree capable of hanging 24 at a time

The 2nd Duke of Westminster fell in love with Coco Chanel and allegedly put the linked Cs of Chanel on the lampposts of his Grosvenor Estates

John Thompson was Royal Foodtaster to four Monarchs: Charles II, James II, William III and Anne. He is buried at Morden College, Blackheath

The last private resident of 10 Downing Street was a Mr Chicken, nobody knows anything about him other than his name, he moved out in 1732

Between 1891-1894 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle lived at 12 Tennison Road, South Norwood his first work featuring Sherlock Holmes A Study in Scarlet was taken by Ward Lock & Co on 20 November 1886

In 1841 the Metropolitan Police reported there were 9,409 prostitutes and 3,325 brothels known to the police across the 17 police districts

Fulham’s first football ground, in 1879, was located on a patch of land known locally as Mud Pond, its location is not known, but the place was described as being in Lillie Road

Aldgate tube station is built on the site of a plague pit mentioned by Daniel Defoe in Journal of a Plague Year in which 1,000+ were buried

The 19th century classic writer Anthony Trollope who also worked for the Post Office helped create the red letter box

The City’s Square Mile is now an imperfect 1.16 square miles following 1990s boundary changes incorporating an area north of London Wall

CabbieBlog-cab.gifTrivial Matter: London in 140 characters is taken from the daily Twitter feed @cabbieblog.
A guide to the symbols used here and source material can be found on the Trivial Matter page.

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Site Unseen: WH & H LeMay http://www.cabbieblog.com/site-unseen-wh-h-lemay/ http://www.cabbieblog.com/site-unseen-wh-h-lemay/#respond Fri, 02 Jun 2017 13:50:00 +0000 http://www.cabbieblog.com/?p=19437 Are not so much a gem of a building, but just an ornate frontage on a very prosaic building

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Every month CabbieBlog hopes to show you a little gem of a building that you might have passed without noticing, in the past, they have ranged from a modernist car park; a penguin pool; to a Hanoverian gatehouse.

The old offices of W. H. & H. LeMay at 63 Borough High Street are not so much a gem of a building, but just an ornate (if deceptive) frontage of a bygone age on a very prosaic building.

The market for hop trading was originally centred around Little East Cheap in the City, gradually the traders moved to the Borough as queues to cross London Bridge with their waggons of hops became prohibitively tedious.

In 1868 a hop exchange was built along the newly constructed Southwark Street, laid out by Sir Joseph Bazalgette and which was the first street in London with water and gas pipes laid down the middle of the road.

It was reasoned traders could lay out their crop for inspection alongside other dealers. The scheme was not a success. Mr LeMay, giving evidence before a Select Committee told of the objection the brewers had of buying in an open market, preferring to purchase through merchants in private.

The report of the Select Committee in 1890 concluded:

The Hop Exchange was started with the idea of having an open market for hops, that the brewers should come and buy off merchants in the open market. The reason why it failed was because the brewers objected to buying off the merchants in the open market: they preferred to buy through the ordinary channels through the merchant. All the stands were let: the small merchants took their samples and exhibited them but no customers came to buy them. The market lasted for something like 18 months . . . the thing simply collapsed.

Individual traders set up shop within the locality boycotting the exchange of which the LeMay’s is still in evidence.

LeMay

An extra incentive for trading within the Southwark region was that before the STD codes arrived their telephone numbers were prefixed with HOP (0207 467). But in World War II 25 out of the 35 warehouses were destroyed by German bombing. The surviving businesses moved to Paddock Wood in Kent which is now the centre for England’s hop trade.

In conclusion, Messrs LeMay’s premises are not constructed, as one may reason, in red sandstone. The highly decorated Grade II listed frontage is just coloured stucco.

An excellent article of the exchange can be found at London Details.

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Barbican’s wildflowers http://www.cabbieblog.com/barbican-wildflowers/ http://www.cabbieblog.com/barbican-wildflowers/#respond Tue, 30 May 2017 13:50:00 +0000 http://www.cabbieblog.com/?p=19429 The whole complex is listed, so re-construction or removing the existing flower beds was a non-starter

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With the Chelsea Flower Show just ending in the bucolic surrounding area of Wren’s Chelsea Hospital, contrast to this the Barbican’s Brutalist housing complex.

Built in the late 1960s it is now weathering to look more dominant and living up to its aggressive military nomenclature. When first constructed, to contrast with the stark concrete, the flower beds were laid out with lawns, bedding plants, trees and shrubs.

Over time these plantings have become both expensive to maintain, necessitating regular watering, and the trees are now causing structural issues. The whole complex is listed, so re-construction or removing the existing flower beds was a non-starter.

Landscape designer Nigel Dunnett was brought in with a brief to provide a low maintenance scheme which looked good all year, obviated the need for regular watering, was resistant to the high winds experienced at some levels and importantly left the concrete flower beds intact.

He has broken thus down to three distinctive areas:
Steppe areas in sun with shallow planting depths adapted to dry exposed sites.
Shrub-steppe had increased soil depth allowed for shrubs and small trees in low densities to promote wildlife.
Light woodland in areas of shade which had better structural support for trees providing shade for perennial ground cover.

Now as the planting matures self-seeding will subtly change this urban landscape giving all year-round contrast.

A full account of this landscaping can be found on Nigel Dunnett’s site.

Featured image: Nicola at A Ranson Note

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