London: a brand with an excellent promotion campaign
Well, let’s start from the beginning. Since my childhood when my class mates went to summer language schools on Malta, Cyprus and in UK and then went back full of impressions and new expressions, UK in general and London in particular were added to my top list of destinations to visit. However, each time when I had a choice I went to Paris or Barcelona or any other mainland European places. Because of visa issues, because of cost, because of other little things. At the time when my colleagues were crazy about Covent Garden and Camden Market I was in a discovery mood for Parisian “les puces” and L’Opera. The scandals and gossips around rich Russians living, dying, killing in London passed by and left no feeling in my heart.
The first time, when I told to myself that I was already a big girl and it had become indecent to ignore one of the modern centres of the world, I was 29. That time I even got the visa, booked a hotel and bought for the first time in my life a non-refundable ticket. And of course, due to some circumstances, I had to cancel the trip. After that London became once again, a destination of my dream for the next couple years.
To make the long story short, I finally did it. This May I went to UK. As foreseen, the weather was very English. Although who cares when you have finally arrived at the place of your dream and have a long list to do.
I am not going to repeat the tourist cliché about “look left-look right” and incidents happened because of it; I will not tell you how many tourists crowd at the fence of the Buckingham Palace. Instead of it I will show you streets which I walked along, people, whom I caught with my camera and as a special edition – a walking tour along the Regent channel to Camden Lock.
We stayed in Regent Hotel in the South Kensington, which has just a perfect location. As we decided not to take a tube, the rent a bike was a great solution as we were able to cross the city in minutes, we saw all the attractions just by passing them by and we were not as tired as we would have been if we had walked.
In this post I gathered pictures of the most famous, well known and recognizable attributes of London which all together create London brand. In the following days I will show you the city in details, from the bird’s view and give a hint for a relaxing walking along the Regent channel.
London taxi – the cab
Not every vehicle can be authorized to be an official taxi in London. Since a long time ago only TX4, a purpose-built taxicab manufactured by The London Taxi Company, has permission to call itself “a cab”. The TX4 is the latest in a long line of purpose-built taxis produced by The London Taxi Company and various predecessor entities. The design has evolved via several mutations from the Austin FX3 of the 1950s. The TX4 takes virtually all of its body styling from its predecessor, the TXII.
Ironically enough, but since 2013 the production of the London cabs are in Chinese hands: The London Taxi Company now is wholly owned by Geely Automobile, a Chinese car producer.
London Cabs Fares and Tips
Fares are metered, and there is a minimum charge of £2.40. Additional charges apply when you take a black cab from Heathrow, book by telephone and on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Many black cabs accept payment by credit or debit card but check with the driver before the trip starts. Card payments attract additional charges.
These buses are commonplace in British commuter transport but open-top models are often used as sight-seeing buses in cities across the world due the top deck’s vantage point. Double-decker buses are in common use throughout the United Kingdom, and have been favoured over articulated buses by many operators because of the shorter length of double-deckers, and less need to have standing capacity. The majority of double-decker buses in the UK are between 9.5 metres and 11.1 metres long, the latter being more common since the mid-1990s, though there are three-axle 12-metre models in service with some operators.
The red double-decker buses in London have become a national symbol of England and United Kingdom. The majority of buses in London are double-deckers. Right after the Second World War the first double-decker buses were the AEC Regent II and AEC Regent III models. A particularly iconic example was the Routemaster bus, which had been a staple of the public transport network in London for nearly half a century following its introduction in 1956. This model was replaced in 2012, in time for the 2012 Summer Olympics, by a new modern and friendly to passengers with disabilities.
The London Underground (the Tube or the Underground) is a public transport network which serves 270 stations. The length of the system is 402 kilometres, 55% of which is above ground. The network incorporates the world’s first underground railway, the Metropolitan Railway, which opened in 1863 and the first line to operate underground electric traction trains, the City & South London Railway in 1890. The network has expanded to 11 lines, and in 2012/13 carried 1.23 billion passengers.
The system’s first tunnels were built just below the surface using the cut and cover method. Later, circular tunnels – which give rise to its nickname the Tube – were dug through the London Clay at a deeper level. The early lines were marketed as the UNDERGROUND in the early 20th century on maps and signs at central London stations. The private companies that owned and ran the railways were merged in 1933 to form the London Passenger Transport Board. The current operator, London Underground Limited (LUL), is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London, the statutory corporation responsible for most elements of the transport network in Greater London.
As of 2012, 91 per cent of operational expenditure is covered by passenger fares. The Travelcard ticket was introduced in 1983 and Oyster, an electronic ticketing system, in 2003.
Today in official publicity and in general, the term ‘Tube’ embraces the whole Underground system, not just the lines that run in deep-level tunnels. The schematic Tube map, designed by Harry Beck in 1931, was voted a national design icon in 2006. London Underground celebrated 150 years of operations in 2013.
to visit: London Transport Museum
The red telephone box, a telephone kiosk designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, was a familiar sight on the streets of the United Kingdom, Malta, Bermuda and Gibraltar. Despite a reduction in their numbers in recent years, the traditional British red telephone box can still be seen in many places throughout the UK, and in current or former British colonies around the world. The colour red was chosen to make them easy to spot.
From 1926 onwards, the fascias of the kiosks were emblazoned with a prominent crown, representing the British government. The red phone box is often seen as an iconic British symbol throughout the world. The paint colour used is known as “cherry red” and is defined by a British Standard, BS 381C-539.
Surprisingly enough but the telephone booth which we see each time we travel to London is the sixth version of the design, which is official code is K6. Here is a short story of each version of the booth:
K1: The first standard public telephone kiosk introduced by the United Kingdom Post Office was produced in concrete in 1920 and was designated K1 (Kiosk No.1). This design was not of the same family as the familiar red telephone boxes. One example is located in Trinity market in Kingston-upon-Hull where it is still in use.
K2: The red telephone box was the result of a competition in 1924 to design a kiosk that would be acceptable to the London Metropolitan Boroughs which had hitherto resisted the Post Office’s effort to erect K1 kiosks on their streets.
The design contest was organised by Royal Academy in order to choose the best new booth. The organisers invited entries from three respected architects. The judges chose the design submitted by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.
The Post Office chose to make Scott’s winning design in cast iron (Scott had suggested mild steel) and to paint it red (Scott had suggested silver, with a “greeny-blue” interior) and, with other minor changes of detail, it was brought into service as the Kiosk No.2 or K2. From 1926 K2 was deployed in and around London and the K1 continued to be erected elsewhere.
K3, introduced in 1929, again by Gilbert Scott was similar to K2 but was constructed from concrete and intended for nationwide use. Cheaper than the K2, it was still significantly more costly than the K1 and so that remained the choice for low-revenue sites. The standard colour scheme for both the K1 and the K3 was cream, with red glazing bars. A rare surviving K3 kiosk can be seen beside the Penguin Beach exhibit at ZSL London Zoo, where it has been protected from the weather by the projecting eaves and recently restored to its original colour scheme.
K4 (designed by the Post Office Engineering Department in 1927) incorporated a post box and machines for buying postage stamps on the exterior. Only 50 kiosks of this design were built.
K5 was a plywood construction introduced in 1934 and designed to be assembled and dismantled and used at exhibitions.
The K6 kiosk is identified as Britain’s red Telephone Box; in fact eight kiosk types were introduced by the General Post Office between 1926 and 1983. The K6 was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the coronation of King George V in 1935. Some 60,000 examples were installed across Britain, which is why the K6 has come to represent the red Telephone Box. The red colour caused particular local difficulties and there were many requests for less visible colours. The red that is now much loved was then anything but, and the Post Office was forced into allowing a less strident grey with red glazing bars scheme for areas of natural and architectural beauty. Ironically, some of these areas that have preserved their telephone boxes have now painted them red.