The topic for this week’s publication onto the London Shoes website, Twitter feed and Facebook page, came about as a result of a conversation with my London cabbie mate Lee, whilst he was ferrying me through a very busy Kensington the other week – when Lee suddenly pointed out a particular landmark that London cabbies refer to as “Hot & Cold Corner”.
I had no knowledge of the so called “Hot & Cold Corner” and so decided to do a little bit of research on the topic and blog it.
So – the subject matter for this week’s blog is entitled “Hot & Cold Corner & the Kensington Gore” – and the topic turned out to be more interesting than I thought it would be.
“Hot & Cold Corner” is the nickname given by ‘cabbies’ to the corner where 2 busy Knightsbridge streets converge – ‘Exhibition Street’ & ‘Kensington Gore’.
The is a very logical reason as to why it is called “Hot & Cold Corner” which I will explain.
The magnificent early Victorian building that occupies the corner of Exhibition Road & Kensington Gore, is the HQ of the globally renowned ‘Royal Geographical Society’ – that was formed way back in 1830 as a professional body for the advancement of Geographical studies – and today has thousands of members throughout the world.
The ‘Royal Geographical Society’ purchased this 1874 built property at no.1 Kensington Gore, known as ‘Lowther Lodge’ back in 1913 at a cost of £100,000.
On either side of the corner of the RGS building, embedded into its external walls, are 2 large statues – one of the famous explorer and missionary “Dr.David Livingstone” and the other of the famous polar explorer “Sir Ernest Shackleton”.
‘Doctor David Livingstone’ (1813-1873) was a physician, an explorer, a Christian missionary and an anti-slavery campaigner, who devoted his life exploring the sources of the River Nile in deepest Africa. He founded many missionaries during his explorations, and is the man behind the famous quote when he bumped into fellow explorer ‘Henry Stanley’ in the middle of the jungle – when Henry Stanley uttered the now historic sentence “Dr Livingstone, I presume”.
Livingstone died in 1873 whilst out in Zambia, and was buried there.
So – the statue of ‘David Livingstone’ represents the “HOT” part of the corner.
‘Sir Ernest Shackleton’ (1874-1922) on the other hand, was one of Britain’s most famous polar explorers, who lead 3 major expeditions to the Antarctic in the early 1900’s – and died whilst exploring the Atlantic islands of South Georgia – and is buried there.
So – the statue of ‘Sir Ernest Shackleton’ represents the “COLD” part of the corner.
And that is exactly why this landmark is referred to by cabbies as ‘Hot & Cold Corner’.
“Kensington Gore” is the name of the street on which the Royal Geographical Society is situated.
Kensington Gore isn’t just a simple straight road – it is actually 2 streets whose layout is ‘wedge-shaped’ as it worms its way around the perimeter of the Royal Albert Hall.
It’s strange ‘Gore’ reference actually comes from an old Anglo Saxon description for a ‘wedge shaped’ piece of land.
The majority of the magnificent tall terracotta bricked buildings situated in Kensington Gore were constructed around the time of Britain’s ‘Great Exhibition’ in 1851 an event that was the brainchild of Queen Victoria’s husband ‘Prince Albert’ to promote and celebrate modern industrial technology and design, on the world stage.
Today, the buildings in Kensington Gore are made up of luxury and extremely expensive private residential flats and apartments.
Throughout the years there have been many impressive and iconic photo-shoots conducted in and around the Kensington Gore properties and their apartments – especially in connection to the music and entertainment industries.
One of the most famous photo-shoots conducted at Kensington Gore, was probably the inside cover sleeve of the Rolling Stones brilliant 1968 album “Beggars Banquet” (just one of the many vinyl albums I still have in my record collection).
There are other notable historic landmarks in Kensington Gore – such as the unusual ‘milestone’ fixture situated outside the Royal Geographical Society building that dates back to 1911, and points the direction to Hyde Park-1 mile – and in the other direction 9 miles to ‘Hounslow’ (why it should specify the direction to Hounslow, gawd only knows!!)
No.26 Kensington Gore is a remarkably unusual property bang outside the Royal Albert Hall and completely different in style and structure to all the other buildings in the street. It is the home to ‘The Royal College of Organists’ – an education centre that provides examinations in organ-playing, choral directing and organ-teaching. (quite handy it being opposite the Albert Hall I guess)
Obviously, the Royal Albert Hall and also the magnificent Albert Memorial can also be seen from Kensington Gore.
Another really unusual and lesser known fact about ‘Kensington Gore’, that I certainly never knew about and I suspect many others don’t know about either, is that it gives its name to the ‘fake’ blood used in films and theatre!!!
Developed by scientists in the 1960’s ‘Kensington Gore’ is the brand name of one of the most popular fake-blood make-ups accoutrements used in the film industry……who knew???
So – having spent a good few hours trekking around this small area of London, and before setting off back home – I popped into the oldest pub in South Kensington, the ‘Hoop & Toy’ in Thurloe Place for the mandatory couple of post-blog ‘cheeky’ beers.
The ‘Hoop & Toy’ is an old Victorian boozer and is notorious for the fact that it is supposed to be London’s most ‘haunted’ pub.
The pub was built in the late 1700’s, on top of a tomb where loads of priests were buried.
When the South Kensington tube station was being built in the early 1860’s they had to remove all the skeletons, and it is said that ‘ghosts’ are regularly seen moving up and down the pub’s stairs – trying to find their way out.
I know from feedback received, that a number of London cabbies follow London Shoes, particularly those that are in the process of studying for the ‘Knowledge’ exam, as they find that the ‘Shoes’ blogs sometimes help them pick-up little snippets of info about some of the “Smoke’s” lesser known historic landmarks and places – so – now I know all about ‘Hot & Cold Corner’ and the ‘Kensington Gore’, I feel that perhaps I can now look a London cabbie in the eye and talk ‘routes’.
Hope you enjoyed this little piece of historic info, and its accompanying photos.
Some more photographs from the ‘Hot & Cold Corner’ and ‘Kensington Gore’ blog