On 5 May 1980 Britain realised it had an elite force when the SAS successfully stormed the terrorist-held Iranian Embassy in Princes Gate after one of the hostages was killed and his body thrown out of the embassy. The soldiers later faced accusations of unnecessarily killing two of the five, but an inquest into the deaths eventually cleared the SAS of any blame. The sole remaining gunman was prosecuted and served 27 years in British prisons.
On 5 May 1760 for murdering a servant serving bad oysters Earl Ferrers got the hangman’s drop breaking the neck as opposed to a slow throttle
Forty Elephants were a gang of prolific female shoplifters from the 1920s who stashed stolen goods in specially adapted bloomers
London’s railings used to be brightly coloured. On the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria decreed that they all be painted black
In his will Dickens stipulated that no monuments be erected to his memory, that’s why London has no statues of one of its greatest writers
The American Declaration of Independence was printed in Caslon typeface designed in Chiswell Street by William Caslon, it’s now a Tesco
In 17th century London antics in St. James’s Park were put to verse: ‘Nightly now beneath their shade/Are buggeries, rapes and incests made’
Opening in 1910 with 2,286 seats the London Palladium had its own telephone system, so patrons could talk to each other
A white strip near BBC White City marks the finish of the world’s first modern marathon in 1908 originally 25 miles extended to 26 miles 385 yards
Traffic congestion in 18th century led to a law being passed to make all traffic on London Bridge keep to the left in order to reduce collisions, it was incorporated into the Highway Act of 1835
On 5 May French couturier Coco Chanel choose today to launch her first perfume No 5, for obvious reasons
On 5 May 1930 Amy Johnson took off from Croydon, in her Gypsy Moth plane ‘Jason’. She became the first woman to fly solo to Australia, arriving on 24th May
Trivial 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.