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Disused Police Phone Box

Look out for this blue police phone box; it is hard to spot. The first UK boxes appeared in 1891 and went out of use after the introduction of the 999 system in the late 1930s. Their most common use was for the public to call for help with pregnancy or ‘sudden illness. Now, we use mobile phones but a few old boxes are still preserved.

Piccadilly Circus

Three sides of Piccadilly Circus are leased from the Crown, which bans advertising signs. The fourth had looser control and adverts made their first appearance here in the early 1900s. Gordon’s Gin was one of the first illuminated signs, in 1923. Coca-Cola is now the longest-running, having been here since 1954.

Piccadilly Circus Station

One of the few Underground stations to have no buildings above ground, this station first opened in 1906. It is now a Grade II LIsted building and serves some 40 million passengers a year on the Bakerloo and the Piccadilly lines. Standing at the end of the northbound Bakerloo platform gives an unusual view of both of its tracks.

World famous - and packed with visitors because of it - Piccadilly Circus is a spot few Londoners actually visit or, if they do, it’s to pass through it quickly on their way elsewhere. However, it has its interesting stories - like everywhere else in London.

Tube: Piccadilly Circus

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Piccadilly Circus

The Trocadero

This was London’s most fashionable dining rooms when J Lyons and Co. opened it at vast cost in 1896. The first public restaurant with a wine cellar, it was also the first to let women dine alone. This freize of King Arthur - now in a cinema foyer on the first floor - once graced the restaurant.
www.kzwp.com/lyons/troc.htm

The Three Graces

While many tourists have their photos taken with the Horses of Helios rearing out of the fountain at the corner of Haymarket, most miss the Daughters of Helios, “The Three Graces”, diving from the roof of 1 Jermyn Street above. By the same artist, sculptor and bar owner Rudy Weller, they are made of gold-leaf-covered aluminium.

Anteros

Often called ‘Eros’, this is actually his twin brother Anteros, ‘The God of Selfless Love’, by Sir Alfred Gilbert RA. A 1893 tribute to philanthropist Lord Shaftesbury, it is the world’s first public aluminium statue, the light weight allowing the one-legged pose. The model was 15-year-old Angelo Colarossi, whose Italian father modelled for Lord Leighton.

The Criterion

The art nouveau restaurant opened in 1874 and is where Dr Watson first heard of Sherlock Holmes: “I was standing at the Criterion Bar, when someone tapped me on the shoulder...” Now under head chef Artan Hasa, it has a very affordable set menu and live music every Friday and Saturday.

www.criterionrestaurant.com

Lillywhites

Lillywhites has been selling sports goods since 1863 in Haymarket, opening this store in 1925. William Lillywhite introduced overarm bowling to cricket and his son James was the first-ever captain of an England XI, funding the first test match in Australia in 1877. Look for the bronze plaques of James, playing in top hat, beside the doors.

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