Londonâ€“ The Capital of theWorld
Why not join the Credit Union now! WE ARE NOW OVER HALF WAY THROUGH THE YEAR AND THINGS DO NOT get easier with all of the financial woes going on. It is the time of the year when those Tax demands start dropping through your letterboxes again, for some a time of dread. Our Credit Union has once again been inundated with applications for loans and savings withdrawals from members, not one has been disappointed and all have great peace of mind to get over this hurdle. The concern for many of you who do not belong to the Credit Union has again caused headaches for some of you; if you need a loan you will pay elsewhere, an exorbitant rate, that is if you can get one. If you join now you will be eligible, if needed, to take a loan to cover this expense for the next demand in January 2013, or just save as much or as little as you like. Once again I cannot emphasise enough how useful being a member is, you may apply for a loan for whatever reason you may have, no questions asked. Apart from the tax issue you may want to take a holiday or buy items for home, or you can just save for a rainy day, your choice. Ask any of your friends who are members just how easy it was to raise money for whatever reason they may have had. Join now, it is so much easier to have money deducted from your account work than having to come in to pay, alternatively if you wish, you may pay by Standing Order direct from your Bank/Building Society, you decide how much you wish to save each month. A TYPICAL LOAN FROM RADIO TAXICABS (LONDON) CREDIT UNION LTD IS AS FOLLOWS: £1,000 over 12 months will cost you £88.85 a month, total loan repayment is £1,066.20, interest payable is only £66.20, beat that if you can. In addition to this all loans and savings are insured and fully protected in the event of an untimely death, this normally costs a great deal more with other lenders. For an application form or other information, or you just want to discuss anything relating to the Credit Union just give us a call and we would be happy discussing this with you. Call Alan Woolf on 020 7561 5148 Tuesday or Wednesday before 13.00 hours, on other days speak to Selam Haile on 020 7561 5131. Email: email@example.com
CreditUnion Radio Taxicabs ( London) Credit Union Ltd No. 90C Mountview House, Lennox Road, London N4 3TX Tel: 020 7561 5148 Fax: 020 7561 5166
Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Services Authority FRN. 213232
INSIDE THIS ISSUE: 4 This Month’s Latest News Roger Sligo – The Roving Reporter – still roving! 7 Rain Rain Go Away? Alan Franks – what’s this wet weather cabbing then?
8 The Party’s Over! Geoffrey Riesel on what it has all meant to us 11 Rose Morris Penny Cuckston – reports on Rose’s 35 years at RTG 12 Surviving LOCOG Peter Gibson and a post Olympics analysis 14 Funny One-Liners Quick quotes and comments to make you smile 15 We’re Almost There Steve Cooper – the Zeus/Chip & Pin equipment upgrade 16 Curiosity Corner Roger Sligo – digging out delectable delights of London 18 Football Fever Geoffrey Riesel on following the footie on Twitter 19 The Olympics – Was It Worth It? Gordon Brown – good for London and taxi drivers? 20 The British Postal Museum and Archive Roger Sligo ‘posts’ a nostalgic report on what he found 23 Life In The Fast Lane! Roy Hughes a “tongue in cheek” look at John Griffin 24 Charlie Chaplin’s Early Life in London Roger Sligo looks at the famous Charlie’s early days 29 The Park Theatre and The Evolution of Finsbury Park Robert MacDonald Watson tells all 30 The Mayor’s Thames Festival 2012 Roger Sligo messing about near our famous river 32 Cyber Mirth Some light-hearted jolly jokes, mirth and merriment 33 The New Royal Oak Roger Sligo visits a re-located cabbies café 34 The Amusing Caption Competition Pen a funny caption and win a £25 M&S Voucher 35 The Mountview Puzzler Page Don’t wait in vain – train your brain
MOUNTVIEW NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM IS: Roger Sligo – Editor & photos / Penny Cuckston – Administration Doug Canning, DC-Graphics – Design, layout, artwork, print & distribution Geoffrey Riesel & Peter Gibson – Board production Design: © 2012 / DC-Graphics / Barnet / Herts / EN5 5TP T: 0208 440 1155 / W: www.dc-graphics.co.uk Content: © 2012 / Radio Taxis Group Ltd / Lennox Road / London / N4 3TX The information and images contained in this Newsletter are subject to copyright. Unauthorised use, disclosure or copying without prior written permission is strictly prohibited.
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W Falling Down... E N LONDON BRIDGE REALLY IS falling down, that is its falling down on the Disability and the Equality act of 2010; whereby a person with disabilities should not be discriminated against, which includes the use of public transport. The new concourse at London Bridge Station, which officially opened on Monday 16th April 2012, gave little thought to disabled wheelchair users when it came to repositioning the new taxi rank. As we all know taxis in London are fitted with a wheelchair facility, with most taxis having integral ramps fitted on the kerbside (nearside). The planners at London Bridge Station however decided, in their wisdom, to place the rank where most of our disabled passengers would have great difficulty gaining access, on the offside! This of course means that any wheelchair user or any person needing the taxi swivel seat at London Bridge Station, would need to be loaded from the roadside! On realising their mistake, they provided a special portion of the set down lay-bye as a disabled pick up point, reducing the three space drop off area for both taxis and phvâ€™s into just two spaces. At rush hour this is completely insufficient for demand, passengers are dropped wherever a space can be found, usually on the bus stands. Added to this we sometimes have delivery vehicles and police vans parked on the set down area in an already limited space. It would be impossible to expect cab drivers to wait for an available space to become vacant with passengers in a hurry to catch their trains! Another exasperating aspect of this taxi rank is that when the main portion is full, taxis wishing to rank, need to go all the way around the block from London Bridge Street to the feeder portion, which with all the traffic exiting the station by the same route, could
London Bridge Taxi Rank
easily take several minutes to complete the journey; during which time several taxis just entering the station could take up any newly available spaces on the main rank, thus causing drivers to squabble. I spoke to a number of taxi drivers who are not happy with the new rank, although some admitted that more spaces have been created with the redevelopment. One driver, Ron, told me that on the previous day there were two wheelchair passengers wanting cabs, both at the same time, possibly due to the Paralympics which were taking place at the time. Ron was the second cab on the rank, both taxis had to double park Cab driver Ron alongside the one space allotted for disabled passenger pick ups, as other vehicles were using the drop off bays. Another fault with the new layout is there are no spaces provided for pre-booked taxis to wait, which is bound to cause difficulties in finding passengers! Every other London station has the taxi ranks on the
left side and there is usually somewhere for pre-booked taxis to wait as well. I noticed however, that there are plenty of spaces allotted for buses to wait, while we are being pushed further out of the way! ILLEGAL CABS IN NEW YORK SOON “FINED OUT”
New York Yellow Cab
The New York Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC ) have come up with a great way of raising funds and at the same time dealing with illegal taxi-touts. They have now handed out fines to 28,009 unlicensed cabs, these are commonly known as “Gypsy cabs,” and the fines are for violations such as picking up street hails, something which only yellow cabs in New York can do. Fines for the year total nearly $2.8 million up from $1.07 million for the previous year. The TLC hired an additional 50 enforcement officers this year as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s taxi plan. Meanwhile the TLC says it will continue issuing fines and plans to put another 22 officers on the streets in October, with emphasis on the outer boroughs. As part of its blitz, the agency has seized 3,270 unlicensed cabs this year, compared with 998 in the same time period last year. “We’ve worked hard to be successful in enforcing against illegal poachers and we’ll keep the pressure on,” said TLC Commissioner David Yassky. “It protects public safety as well as the legitimate business people who provide quality taxi and livery services. But it’s also important to send a message to the riding public and urge them to not get into these vehicles that don’t have a TLC licence.” Mayor Boris Johnson and our own TPH should take note of how New York is dealing with the taxitouts problem by recruiting more compliance officers and making the touts pay! LORD WON’T YOU BUY ME A MERCEDES-BENZ? On a quiet August afternoon I was fortunate enough to find an empty space on the London Eye taxi rank. After doing very little time there, I was soon on the point. Before long I was approached by a group of Italian’s led by their spokesman who informed me that he had 26 people in his party and asked how many could I take in my taxi? Replying to his question I said five, holding up five fingers as confirmation. In broken English he informed me that he needed one of the cabs
to take six as this would equate to them taking five cabs altogether. I told him he would need to wait for a Vito which can carry six – he said he did not understand me – ok then I thought I would go into more detail using the full manufactures title, the Mercedes Benz Vito – still he didn’t understand me. By now the cabby behind was also trying to get in on the act, both of us attempting to explain to him about the Vito, the six seater cab they would need. Finding a younger man within their group who seemed to have a better grasp of English, we once again explained they would need a six seater Mercedes Vito. Again this younger man also failed to understand us! Ever heard of the car maker “Mercedes?” I said, his head shook from side to side – ah ok try again I thought, mentioning several other car manufacturers to see if he could connect with it; Alfa Romeo, Rolls Royce, Jaguar, Volkswagen and then slowly emphasising the name Mercedes-Benz. He still had no idea what on earth we were talking about, “no comprendo” is all he could say! Would he understand if I sang him a few bars of the Janis Joplin hit song; “Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?” (no I thought he would be too young to know that one) – Surely a Merc is a Merc in any language, isn’t it? By now the cabby behind and I had given enough English lessons for one day. We loaded up five Italian passengers each and headed off towards our Kensington destination, as the remaining sixteen Italians were left stranded and still trying to make sense of it all. Buona sera! SHOULD DRIVERS HAVE THE HUMP? Did anyone else notice the humps along Birdcage Walk were removed during the main Olympics, only to return at the start of the Paralympics? They are supposed to be there to calm the speed of traffic, along this straight stretch of road. Does this mean then that its OK for VIP passengers travelling in their 2012 logo BMW’s to exceed the 30mph speed limit? Why else should they payout for three large pedestrian ramps which must cost thousands of pounds to be flattened, only to reappear again days after the main Olympics ended? Surely they were needed all the more with the beach volleyball tournaments taking place at Horse Guards Parade, with hundreds of spectators crossing Birdcage Walk from St James’s Underground Station to get to the events? I also noticed along the Olympic Road Network (ORN) on each side of the Limehouse Link Tunnel the speed camera’s seemed to be turned off during the
Olympics. I go through these tunnels at least twice a day and as all regular drivers know, if you go just over 30mph you will get flashed. Yet dozens of buses and BMW’s passing by in the empty Olympic lanes were moving at well over 35mph without triggering off any of the camera’s – this should have qualified the drivers for at least a bronze medal, I would have thought! Yet again when the Paralympics began I detected few flashes in front of me on the first day. The vast sums of money it must have cost to remove all the Olympic Lanes, burning off the white road markings and removing all the signs, when only a couple of weeks later they were all back in place. I say this because since the Paralympics started all I could see everywhere were signs proclaiming “Games Lanes are opened to all traffic” we could even go through the “official Olympic traffic only” signs at Tower Hill, where
Games lane signage
we were supposed to have gone for a detour around the Minories; whatever was that all about? And why is there a no right turn at Tower Bridge and the narrowing into a single lane on the approach after detouring around Mansell Street just to cross over Tower Bridge? The amount of people that have said that hosting the Olympics is a “once in a lifetime” thing, although I was one month old during the previous one in 1948 – so in my case its twice in a lifetime; aren’t we all glad to know that? Paralympics action – Tower Hill
KATIE GETS HER BILL Some of you might recall the article ‘Katie on the Knowledge’ from the March 2011 issue of Mountview News? It told the story of my niece Katie Chennells, who after doing the blue book runs for Katie Chennells about a year previously was just about to start her first appearance. Coming from a family of cab drivers, including her father; Katie is the first female in the family to obtain a green badge! On Monday 13th August 2012 she completed her suburbs and the following day was awarded her badge and bill. Nowadays it is more like getting a degree as you can take family and friends along with you for the presentation ceremony. A far cry from the days when you handed over the cash at the licensing kiosk at Penton Street, where a member of staff would push through the slot at the window your badge and bill without any pomp or ceremony and that would be that – you were out! Katie, who had a good education at a private school, the same school as another cab driver’s daughter the late Amy Winehouse, (Amy’s father Mitch worked on both Radio Taxis and Xeta for a number of years). Katie also obtained a university degree in media studies and became interested in cabbing whilst making a short documentary film “Knowledge Point” which can be found on You Tube. Now Katie has some teaching herself to do, as her boyfriend Liam is on the Knowledge full time too. Congratulations Katie, as we say in the trade – be lucky! THE PARALYMPIC MARATHON On the final day of the 2012 London Paralympics thousands turned out on the streets of London to see David Weir produced a brilliant sprint finish to claim Great Britain’s final London 2012 gold medal and secure his fourth victory at the Paralympics in the wheelchair marathon. Battling against one of the warmest days of the year, David won by just one second pushing Marcel Hug of Switzerland into second place, with defending champion Kurt Fearnley of Australia taking bronze, also one second behind Weir. Shelly Woods followed him home in style, with silver, in the women’s marathon; Britain’s last medals of London 2012. This takes the final tally for the Games to 120 – 34 gold, 43 silver and 43 bronze. Although the London taxi trade along with many other businesses have suffered from the Olympics, it doesn’t take it away from how proud we all are of Team GB. Be Lucky!
Rain Rain GoAway? By Alan Franks, RTG’s Group Operations Director
THERE YOU ARE STRUGGLING THROUGH the traffic and it’s absolutely chucking it down, raining “Cats and Dogs!”And then how often has a passenger in the back of your cab said “I bet you are really busy today as it’s raining?” “This wet weather is good for you cabbies, isn’t it?” And they always seem to say it when you’re having an especially bad day; At that point lots of difficult choices race through your mind, you think “Should I grab them warmly by the throat or explain the realities of driving a taxi in London, particularly when it rains and then the traffic grinds to a halt.” Considering the options you choose the latter or mumble something so that they get the message! Well unless you’ve been away on permanent holiday for the last six months you will know that we’ve just had the rainiest summer season on record. So what effect, you might ask, does the weather have on Radio Taxis as a whole? Well it really depends on when it rains and even what type of rain. Yes really, although that sounds amazing. It also depends on what the time is when it rains and even whether or not the rain was expected. For example, some days it just rains all day and
because everyone is prepared for it we don’t really see any increase in volumes of work. On another day there might be a sudden downpour, especially in the rush hour and in the evening; in that case we experience a very steep and sudden surge in work. That’s when it starts to get a bit tricky, because when the volumes of work increase so suddenly, we are then in a position of having to try to explain to our customers that taxis might be delayed by heavier than normal traffic or just by sheer weight of demand, we always do our best in the circumstances and let the customers know; but then unfortunately some of you still “get it in the ear” if you arrive a few minutes late. Diplomacy from all of us is always the best way to deal with it, with a few key phrases like, “Can I apologise on behalf of the company?” “With the inclement weather the traffic is very bad!” “Sorry if we’ve kept you waiting!” Never ever use fob-off phrases like “I dunno – I only just got the job!” (The trip may have been in the system for a few minutes, because of the sudden high demand). Of course we all know that we are going through a very long and particularly painful recession, so anything that increases our work is appreciated but rain…? I don’t think so!
The Party’s Over! Now that the Olympics & Paralympics are finished Radio Taxis Group Chairman & CEO Geoffrey Riesel ponders what has it all meant to us? NOW THAT THE CLOSING ceremonies have finished and the dust is starting to settle, here are my thoughts, out loud as it were, about the Olympics and what they meant to London and also about how they affected the taxi industry and what next? Along with family members, we were lucky enough to go to a morning event (Saturday 4th August) in the Olympic Stadium; son, son in law and daughter in law too, (my daughter was already there working for Canadian TV) we all enjoyed the experience of a lifetime and watching Jessica Ennis and Usain Bolt, made us feel really privileged. We had applied for the tickets about a year ago – we didn’t get all of the ones we wanted but we were there for some of the heats in the athletics on one of the main days. And the seats we got were not too bad either. The Olympics themselves were wonderfully organised, the venues were amazing, and the volunteers were terrific embodying the Olympic spirit. Everything from the Opening Ceremony to the closing ceremony was marvellous and even our Monarch, HM the Queen played a good humoured part. And it was unquestionably a time when most of us rediscovered that we are very proud to be British. Well done Team GB! They were amazing with a haul of medals the like of which we haven’t seen for over a hundred years. But I agree with Mnsr Rogge, to be an Olympian is about taking part – winning is just the icing on the cake! And now it seems that the Paralympians are taking up that amazing mantle of British success. During the Olympics, members of the Board of the London Chamber of Commerce were encouraged to attend some of the meetings organised by business groups like the LCCI and the CBI; consequently I dutifully attended a couple of meetings, organised by the Mayor of London, one at City Hall on the final Olympic Friday evening and the other at Westfield on the concluding Saturday afternoon where the discussions were about London as a “World City” and “The legacy of the games”. It was encouraging to hear that leading academics still consider London to be the world’s top city closely followed by New York. There were opportunities to make some points at those meetings, which were attended by some very influential people.
TAXIS AND THE OLYMPIC GAMES The main theme that I raised was concerning the transport arrangements for the games and the taxi industry’s part. I have mixed feelings about this, indeed the picture varied. Overall the taxi industry and included in that was many of our drivers, were quieter than we were all led to believe. Some of our drivers did well, of course, especially if they were fortunate enough to have been used for shuttle services. Also for those who acted as Marshalls, as well as those from the rest of the fleet who have ended up doing quite a lot of work for the “Work Force” account. And yes we were aware that a few are a bit peeved about who was picked initially, but we only had about a week to select the drivers who were to be accredited. And in the first place, the Games were won as a low emission Games and consequently LOCOG were immovable, about their contractual condition that only “Euro Four” or newer vehicles would take part. And these drivers were selected strictly in order of their phone application and satisfying all of the criteria. And then we stopped. Of this there was no choice and the second criteria was for mainly six seater vehicles which meant that Vito taxis were very popular with LOCOG. A further criterion was that drivers had to guarantee to be available for the whole time during both the Olympics and the Paralympics. And those who would be entering “clean” areas (clean as in secure) would have to be Home office vetted. Security was an issue of the highest order for LOCOG and we needed to understand this. As far as we could, we strove to be as fair and as scrupulous as possible albeit we had to do things very quickly and despite our efforts at impartiality there were always going to be winners and losers. The rest of the fleet, especially those working very late or very early, got the opportunity to cover the “workforce account” and there has been quite a lot of that work and of course there has been the opportunity to cover the enhanced tariff jobs for London Underground, during the Games. So, my view overall about the trades part in the Olympics is that while some were fortunate to benefit from them, the trade as a whole did not do that well out of the Games. However, there is no doubt that, we were the only circuit whose drivers did get some benefit from the
Games. The rest of the trade and the other circuits had the quietest time ever. Although I concede that also applies to some of our own day drivers and who don’t work very early or very late. With the benefit of hindsight the Games Lanes seem, on the face of it to have been overkill, mainly because the numbers and volume of those needing to be transported was way below what had been anticipated. However we can all be clever after the fact. Every Games since Atlanta has had dedicated transport lanes. And I expect every future Games will have dedicated lanes too. QUIET It is not that surprising, because of the constant wide ranging publicity from the Mayor’s office, TfL, etc, advising firms to tell staff to work from home and not to come into London, the result was that all of our usual client base (both radio and street work) did just that. They stayed away and it was quiet. Being a bit “over picky,” about what was otherwise an excellent well organised Games, this was ever so slightly “dented” by the absence of “taxi pick up points,” (and for that matter the Private Hire ones too) or at least those points being an unduly long way away from any of the venues. And the main taxi rank at the “Island” in Stratford was also well tucked away out of sight. LEGACY MEETING ON FINAL SATURDAY, WESTFIELD As mentioned before, I dutifully attended the meeting at Westfield on the closing Saturday, which was about the Legacy of the Games. The event was “moderated” by BBC London News’ Kurt Baling; the panel included John Burton Director of Development Westfield, Daniel Moylan, who has been the Conservative Deputy Leader of Kensington and Chelsea and is now a board member of TfL and Sir Robin Wales the unconventional Mayor of the Borough of Newham. Daniel Moylan is often described as a “Johnsonian consigliore” he is chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation; also the man responsible for what happens to the Olympic Park after the Paralympics and he has also been described in the past as a “Conservative Peter Mandelson” – and someone with “a fierce intellect with a rather sinister demeanour.” Daniel Moylan, they say, must put sentiment aside to clinically oversee a major £300m construction project to convert the Olympic Park into its post-Games life, while at the same time making hard-headed business decisions about the future of key venues. Mr Moylan explained to the meeting that reluctantly, the Park would close immediately after the Paralympics until all the building work was done to convert it for its legacy until July 2013. Messrs Burton, Wales and Moylan, were reminded that the taxi rank inside the park had been closed for the duration of the Olympics, that 60% of all journeys in London undertaken are still undertaken by road and that the taxi industry is an important part of London’s transport infrastructure, that it should never again be
omitted from anything. They all agreed that the taxi industry was important to the future of Westfield Stratford City and to the Queen Elizabeth Park. Moylan responded “we are not anti-taxi.” WHAT FOR THE FUTURE? Being a serial networker the advice I received was to use my various positions as Chairman of Radio Taxis Group, as CBI London regional councillor and as a Board Member of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to lobby the Mayor and Government so as to invest in making the London economy stronger. That could certainly start by the Coalition approving a Heathrow expansion and the go-ahead for a third runway. Some weeks ago I was also invited to sit on a Commission which is a working group that has been set up primarily by the City of Westminster and Chaired by Sir Howard Bernstein. It has strong support from the Borough of Camden and also from the Mayor of London. Its objective is to take evidence and then to look at how the West End (in the wider sense) can improve and attract tourism, business and investment. And of course the commission’s role is also to try to enhance the quality of life for people who live and work in the West End. (Which of course must include taxi drivers?) Despite a “mixed” Games for drivers with both good and less good experiences, we still remain optimistic that the Olympics and Paralympics have show-cased Great Britain in general and London in particular in a great light – wasn’t it noticeable and encouraging to see how often the iconic London taxi was used in both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games; Hopefully the good publicity will drive tourism and motivate business people to invest in London in the coming years bringing much needed trade and sustainability to London’s economy and to the taxi industry. CHIP AND PIN UPDATE The feedback from drivers continues to be excellent and indeed it is consistent in that their reports are of “90% of all credit cards jobs are in receipt of a tip” and furthermore that the amount of street hailed jobs of a “better quality” are
becoming significantly more frequent for those drivers who have been fitted with the rear compartment EMV machine. THE VITO ISSUE AND “PIGGY IN THE MIDDLE” As you know Radio Taxis is committed to fitting the new Zeus terminal plus the VeriFone EMV chip and pin solution into every cab in our fleet, so as to gain a commercial advantage for the company and its drivers. (With Xeta we are fitting the Chip and Pin solution together with the Pidion/Mantle PDA devices). A month ago or so, we received notification that the Radio Taxis fitting for the VeriFone Chip and Pin solution in Mercedes Vito taxis had been approved by LTPH (formerly the PCO), which gave us the green light to start fitting Vito’s with the Radio Taxis/VeriFone solution. VeriFone then began to advertise that fact in the trade press. Within days of that advert, KPM (who are the London main dealer for Vito’s sent out a letter to all their drivers stating to the effect (and I am paraphrasing not quoting) that if a VeriFone Chip and Pin machine was fitted it may invalidate the warranty if not fitted properly. Moreover the letter also suggested that those Vito owners who used the Mercedes Benz Vito leasing package (Agility) and if they had the VeriFone solution fitted, they might also suffer a loss of residual value because of the holes drilled into the taxi’s panels. I subsequently received a personal assurance from KPM boss Peter DaCosta that this “had nothing to do with the fact that a company with close links to KPM, Cabvision, was also providing a Chip and Pin package. Indeed Peter, whom I have known for “donkeys years” and whom I like and trust, assured me that it was only because Mercedes Benz had not gone through their own rigorous approval process (which they say could take two years)! However it seems inconceivable that LTPH (who are ultra-cautious anyway) would approve anything without first speaking to the manufacturer to get some assurance that it did not interfere with or damage the taxis’ electrical systems. (Especially after the TX4 fires disaster some years ago). Our belief is that such a conversation probably did take place, but we have no way of knowing that for certain. We then sent our own letter out to the RTG Vito fleet, because we knew that they would obviously be unsettled by KPM/Mercedes’ letter, our objective was to re-assure our Vito drivers that, (in the unlikely event) the fitting did genuinely cause an electrical problem which might invalidate the warranty, VeriFone, backed by a guarantee from Radio Taxis, would be responsible for the ensuing consequential costs. Also that we would be purchasing panels and replacing/making good, when the vehicle was sold and the equipment stripped out to prevent the vehicle having holes in those panels and thus avoiding any loss of residual value.
Peter DaCosta also assured me personally that “NO RADIO TAXIS DRIVER SHOULD WORRY THEY WOULD NOT BE SUBJECT TO A LOSS OF WARRANTY UNLESS IT REALLY WAS A GENUINE CASE OF WRONGLY FITTED EQUIPMENT.” In other words he assured me that this was not about commercial rivalry or anti-competitive behaviour. However intriguingly, KPM Mercedes have now sent out their own letter offering a Cabvision Chip and Pin solution and saying that their USP (unique sell point) is that it won’t interfere with the warranty? And one assumes that holes drilled in panels made by Cabvision will also need to be made good or replaced as well for the Agility leasing package? The other thing that is both interesting and relevant is that LTPH have commented on more than one occasion that Radio Taxis in cab fittings are among the best and most professionally carried out in the industry. That is, the PCO or LTPH believe that our fitting bay is one of the leading benchmarks in the trade. Most of our Vito drivers have now had the equipment fitted however I really do understand and sympathise with the reticence of the others drivers, without having had a written assurance from KPM. I also know that for those drivers it has also cost you money, already you have lost out on the incentive bonus which was being paid out but only in the run up to the Olympics. My impression is that the majority of Vito drivers are very keen to have Radio Taxis/VeriFone Chip and Pin solution. WE NEED A RESOLUTION I have told Peter DaCosta that we would feel very compromised if we were forced into a position where we were obliged to discourage drivers from buying a specific brand of taxi and I strongly reiterate that I do believe Peter DaCosta to be a man of integrity and an all-round good guy. We shall, of course, see whether there are any instances of problems with the Vito electrics. Three months on and thus far I am not aware of any. Peter DaCosta insists it’s not his fault, that it’s Mercedes Benz who are pedantic about these things. I have no way of knowing if it is as a result of acrimony or commercial antipathy between VeriFone and KPM. I would however like to have a solution which works for us and for our drivers because we have a soft spot for the Mercedes Vito and so do many of our clients. As “Piggy in the middle” we will continue to search for a solution. We will not however allow any driver to lose out. And of course there will soon be three choices of taxis available when the new Nissan taxi hits the streets next year which can only be good for the trade as a whole. ■ Geoffrey Riesel, Chairman & CEO, Radio Taxis Group
Celebrating 35 Years at Radio Taxis
CHAIRMAN GEOFFREY RIESEL presents Rose with a gift and a bouquet to mark her 35 years with Radio Taxis. Rosemary Morris (Goode) joined Radio Taxis on 22 June 1977 and started work as a telephonist in the “Control Room” at 157 Stroud Green Road. Before joining Radio Taxis she’d had numerous previous jobs including being a dancer on cruise ships and even a driving instructor to name but just a few! After only a short time as a telephonist and in those days when we were still on voice with despatchers on radio, Rose was promoted to
supervisor and as an assistant to the late Sylvia Darling who ran the Control Room. When it was busy in the old call centre, there was a system of lights on the wall, and the more calls waiting, then the higher up the lights went and they changed colour from Green to Amber and then if it was mega busy they turned Red. It was one of Rose’s jobs, as supervisor, to call out to the telephonists, “My lines! My lines,” which meant hurry up and finish the calls you are on and answer some more. When the company moved to Mountview House in 1990 she became one of our receptionists for a few years, and then she progressed on to the finance department working in the Credit Control team, as she does today. Rose met, fell in love with and then married Radio Taxis driver Nat (the babe) Morris; after many years of marriage unfortunately Nat passed away a couple of years ago. Rose has a great love of cats, Bill and Ben being her latest pets, but in the past she had cats named after The Rolling Stones and family (the Stones were one of her favourite bands) Charlie, Jade, Keith, Brian and Ronnie. The Board and staff, old and new, joined Rose celebrating 35 years’ service, we hope Rose enjoys many more happy years with her Radio Taxis family. Penny Cuckston.
Claim was dealt with very smoothly. Good Customer Services. It’s a comfort knowing that they supply you with a Radio Taxi and I can still work, whilst work was carried on my own taxi. I would recommend using Chief Rentals. Steve Abrahams H021
Surviving LOCOG By Peter Gibson Strategic Director I AM WRITING THIS ARTICLE AFTER THE Olympic Games and before the Paralympics have started. The London 2012 Olympic Games are already being discussed as the best ever and they have been universally feted as extraordinarily successful. If a script had been written for the perfect Olympics it would not differ greatly from what actually happened – except if you were a taxi driver who works days. The Radio Taxis/One Transport link with LOCOG has also gone very well thus far – and as I have said at the time of writing we still have the Paralympics to go. Our link with LOCOG was born out of an arduous tender process over a four month period that culminated in us being awarded two contracts. That of Lead Operator of, what was eventually called, Games Shuttle and the second was for Taxis supply. The Lead Operator role was setting up a communications network with three other suppliers, two with specialist disability access vehicles and coaches up to 20 seats, and a small Private Hire company who had also been chosen by LOCOG. We set up the communications link on a “pod” on the mezzanine floor of the Mountview House Contact Centre. These pods are circular and have eight seats. We set up the remote access needed for all three companies to access their own systems and we agreed a set of rules around coverage of trips and we thought that we were ready to “rock and roll”. And then, a week before we were going live at Paddington (which was the main entry location from Heathrow) we received word that all the drivers to be
used by all four companies combined had to be “accredited” – which meant that all drivers had to be security checked by The Home Office. This check included a long form to be filled in and the individual themselves attending an establishment in east London for a photograph that would be attached to a large security badge to be worn by the driver at all times when carrying out LOCOG work. Logistically this was challenging – some 300 drivers from four companies processed and accredited within 5 days. Needless to say – it didn’t happen. We agreed that “dirty” or “unaccredited” vehicles could be used at Paddington to transfer the media to up to 135 hotels across London but all other pickups would necessitate accredited drivers. The other pickups were: ■ NOPOE’s = None Official Points of Entry – Heathrow was the only “official” point of entry where athletes, the Olympic family and VIP’s would be welcomed and catered for. All other points: Gatwick, Stansted, City Airport and St Pancras were dealt with by Games Shuttles – this was us and these vehicles needed to be “accredited” drivers. ■ Ad Hoc’s = Transfers from venue to venue of the Olympic family members where an official Olympic car wasn’t available – these also needed to be accredited drivers. ■ Workforce Work = This was picking up early or late shift Games Maker volunteers and taking them to a venue or taking them home after the events had finished – these were “none accredited” drivers. Everyone in the fleet who was working when those trips came out had an opportunity to do this work and did not need accreditation. So we had various types of work and various restrictions on who could do what type of work and this was entirely because only the “accredited” drivers could get inside of security cordons, that “none accredited” drivers could not. Confused? We had to get to understand all these constraints very quickly. A further piece of security for vehicles driven by an “accredited “driver was the “TRA” stickers that were placed on the vehicles. This was a white circular disc with “TRA” and some further security information that indicated what venues they were allowed to get close to. At Radio Taxis we had about 30 drivers from all of the volunteers that phoned in that were “accredited.” Some were used as marshals and the rest were used for
various types of “accredited” LOCOG work. We also had a further 20 drivers on a reserve list and these drivers were not called upon during the Games. Nevertheless for the rest of the fleet as previously mentioned we did use a lot of “dirty” or “unaccredited” cabs at Paddington when it was busy and then all of the “Workforce Work” went to the main Radio Taxis fleet dispatched as normal. I would like to personally thank all of the drivers that took the time to call in and leave details so as to be part of the Games Shuttle and I really do apologise sincerely to those of you who missed out. Over 200 drivers called in and we ended up using only 30 in total – so only 1 in 7 drivers were chosen and because of the very late notification of the “accreditation” conditions, we used the first 30 that were fully available for both Olympics and Paralympics and then we stopped the search. There was a lot of frantic activity by a lot of dedicated people within the Contact Centre to organise passports/addresses/personal information and then arranging drivers to attend for photographs and official accreditation and in the heat of that activity we really should have communicated to the many drivers that missed out that they had been unsuccessful. I take full responsibility for what took place and again I apologise if you wanted to be part of the Games but were not lucky enough to be one of the thirty. Overall the predictions that LOCOG made for the numbers of people that we were expecting to transfer were much higher than the actual numbers of people that we did transfer. LOCOG had a computer system called ADS (Arrivals and Departure System) and this information was notoriously sketchy and so various people within LOCOG took the numbers of people that did put information into the ADS and then used this to predict expected usage of the Games Shuttle services – but these numbers proved to be over estimations and the totals that used the Games Shuttles were significantly less than predicted as people found their own ways to get about town.
tions that ic d e r p e th ll a r e “Ov bers of m u n e th r fo e d LOCOG ma pecting to x e e r e w e w t a people th than the r e h ig h h c u m transfer were al numbers of people actu nsfer..” that we did tra As far as the Games Shuttle operations themselves – they were very successful and we have many emails congratulating us on the way we managed the service. I would like to thank Fiona Gavin and Alan Franks for the excellent job that they did in managing the whole operation. Some other personnel, who you may not be aware of, who became “stars” during the 33 days of the Games Shuttle (we started on 13th July and continued until 15 August) are: Mark Goodwin, Chris Hughes, Maxine Hemmings, Lorraine Hickey, Andrew Eleftheriou and Ian Campbell Gray among lots of others. Also let me give a very big thank you, to Roy Hughes, Head of Sales and Account Management, who ran the whole caboodle and was ably assisted by Kylie Wallace. One of the amusing parts of our association with LOCOG was the terms they used which had crept into their language and their copious use of acronyms, a few of which I can remember: • LOCOG – London Organising Committee of Olympic and Paralympic Games • ADS – Arrivals and Departures • TROC – Transport Organisation Committee • VAP – Vehicle Accreditation Pass • Sheep Dip – Games Makers’ Induction Process Finally I would like to thank all of the drivers; and there were lots more of you who ended up doing the work both accredited and none accredited, Workforce and shuttle, you really did do a splendid job during the Games for any LOCOG taxi journey (they ended up loving taxis); and the Marshalls, well you made LOCOG so very grateful for the splendid job that we did, you were super professional – thank you.
Get well soon Peter Gibson SINCE WRITING HIS article for Mountview News “Surviving LOCOG” – I’m sorry to report that Peter Gibson is in hospital recovering from surgery.
The news is that he is responding well to treatment. I would like to express to Peter a most sincere “get well soon” on behalf of all of the Staff, the Senior Team and the Directors of Radio Taxis Group. We look forward to you making a full and speedy recovery. Geoffrey Riesel
Funny One-Liners! ● My neighbour knocked on my door at
● A horse walks into a
● The Grim Reaper came for me last night,
● Statistically, 6 out of
● Paddy says “Mick, I’m thinking of buying a
● My daughter asked me
2:30am this morning, can you believe that 2:30am?! Luckily for him I was still up playing my Bagpipes! and I beat him off with a vacuum cleaner. Talk about Dyson with death.
Labrador. “Really?” says Mick “have you seen how many of their owners go blind.”
● Man calls 999 and says “I think my wife
is dead.” The operator says how do you know? He says “The sex is the same but the ironing is building up!”
● My girlfriend thinks that I’m a stalker.
Well, she’s not exactly my girlfriend yet.
● The wife has been missing a week now.
Police said to prepare for the worst. So I have been to the charity shop to get all her clothes back.
● A mate of
mine recently admitted to being addicted to brake fluid. When I quizzed him on it he reckoned he could stop any time…
● I went to the cemetery yesterday to lay
some flowers on a grave. As I was standing there I noticed 4 grave diggers walking about with a coffin, 3 hours later and they’re still walking about with it. I thought to myself, ‘they’ve lost the plot!’
bar and orders a beer; the barman says “Why the long face?” dwarves are not happy.
for a pet spider for her birthday, so I went to our local pet shop and they were £70!!! Blow this, I thought, I can get one cheaper off the web.
● Went around to a friend’s house today.
His wife was there with their new-born baby. She asked if I’d like to wind it. I thought that was a bit harsh so I gave it a dead leg instead.
● I start a new job in Seoul next week. I thought it was a good Korea move.
● I was driving this morning when I saw an AA service vehicle parked up. The driver was sobbing uncontrollably and looked very miserable. I thought to myself ‘that guy’s heading for a breakdown.’
● Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
● I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.
We’re almost there! By Steve Cooper, Driver Services DURING THE RUN UP TO THE start of the Olympics the team at Station Road stepped up the pace (no pun intended) to provide additional workshop slots for the roll-out of the Zeus/Chip and Pin equipment upgrade. We now have more than 95% of the RT fleet on the new system. Those of you that have yet to be fitted will be contacted in due course as it is our expectation that we will be fully operational on the cellular data network by the end of our financial year (November). I am more than pleased with the overall result and the fantastic response from the drivers, thank you for your support and patience. The road to success is often rocky and there were moments during the project that were no exception. A glitch in the software or a network issue can cause significant knock on effects and can damage the users’ perception of the system’s real characteristics and qualities. The drivers that have encountered the consequences of the “gremlins” have all contributed to the fact finding process that goes towards the fine tuning that ultimately provides us with a robust product and solution. An extra special thank you goes to those drivers, I’m sure you know who you are! The Zeus MDT is now updated with the freshly designed icons and screen layouts, incorporating a number of enhancements that are a direct result of driver’s feedback. Most of the changes have been well received although some others may take a little while to adjust to, but even the few drivers that were “not sure” at first, mostly, agree they now find the updated version more user friendly. Towards the tail end of the fitting program a new, improved smaller Chip and Pin card reader, with a colour screen, was approved, the VX20. We immediately secured this model for our standard installation. This leads me to inform you that there are a couple of upgrades that are imminent and these will require a visit to Station Road. The upgrades comprise of the Satellite Navigation software, which is very comprehensive, so much so that it is not practical to send such a large file across the network to upgrade it over the “air.” And while you are here we will also ensure that you have the latest VX20 Chip and Pin machine too, plus you will have the opportunity to ask any questions that you may have thought of since you undertook your training session. You can expect a call in the next couple of weeks to arrange a booking time for your visit. (Assuming you haven’t had one already!) If you were previously undecided about the Media screen option there is still an opportunity for you to have this
installed and receive the incentive of £100 payment on fitting and £100 subs credit annually for the next four years. The Media content is constantly changing and includes some very pro active Taxi promotional information. For example one of the campaigns promotes the cost saving and convenience of taking a Taxi to LHR, where two or more passengers take the Heathrow Express. You may have noticed that the new software version will not allow you to progress with a job if you have more than the permitted run-in amount on the meter. This is a sophisticated enhancement that has been championed by some of our long standing clients. If the warning is activated, most drivers reset the meter without hesitation but there are some that will blame the circumstances and consistently arrive with excess meter readings. It is a direct result of this type of behaviour and attitude towards the run-in charge that has brought about this change. The consequence for all drivers is that here is no leeway here and you either have a legitimate run-in or you re set the meter, which is what our clients asked for and expect from us. Parking ticket numbers are beginning to creep up again so it must be that time of year for me to remind you that if you have to wait more than five minutes at any pick up address you are putting yourself on offer for a PCN. However, we at RTG understand that this is an occupational hazard and we will deal with tickets that are issued to drivers whilst making contact with account passengers. But we expect every driver to be vigilant and to try to take steps to avoid receiving PCNs. For example, waiting in a Bus Stop or a loading bay will also usually result in a PCN. In each case the opinion of the adjudicators is that there is no defence unless you were “loading goods”. So in that case find somewhere appropriate to wait and inform the control room via data. Our appeal success rate is running at about 90% but it involves significant administration and avoidance in the first place is the best tactic. To clarify, it’s our policy to undertake to process any PCN’s that are issued to drivers while servicing a Radio Taxis account booking but we will not meet the cost of any PCN where the driver has committed a moving traffic offence or parked on “Zig-Zags” or across a footway. There are no grounds to challenge these tickets and if caught out you should expect to have to deal with them. All the best and from everyone at Station Road – be lucky and be busy.
Curiosity Corner Roger Sligo on the mysteries of hidden London
St Pancras Old Church
nes were o b e th t s g n o m “A ckets, o p k ic p , s p im p , desperados ostitutes, r p , n e m y a w h hig s, forgers cut-throats, spieduelists.” and
St Pancras Old Church is believed to be one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in England, and is dedicated to the Roman martyr Saint Pancras, although the building itself is largely Victorian.
Charles Dickens mentions it by name in his 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities, making it the location of body-snatching to provide corpses for dissection at medical schools, a common practice at the time. In 1866 the decision was made to run the main railway line through to St Pancras Station but construction proved difficult. The Grand Union Canal was in the way, and engineers decided it was easier to run the tracks through the churchyard, and the young Thomas Hardy was in charge of the excavation of part of the graveyard, in the course of the construction of the Midland Railway’s London terminus. Skulls and bones were scattered all over the place as Hardy decided to stash the headstones around a central ash tree. Amongst
the bones were desperados, pimps, pickpockets, highwaymen, prostitutes, cut-throats, spies, forgers and duelists. Their headstones so crammed together it is impossible to read any inscriptions. Hardy was so saddened by his work here he wrote a poem “The Levell’d Graveyard” which contains the lines:
O passenger, pray list and catch Our sighs and piteous groans Half stifled in this jumbled patch Of wretched memorial stones
Another poet Shelly, first met and fell in love with Mary Godwin. She was paying her respects at the grave of her mother. THE JOHN SOANE MAUSOLEUM In the graveyard of St Pancras Old Church stands this outstandingly interesting monument which on close inspection looks a little familiar regarding some of London’s street furniture. This grade 1 listed Mausoleum was designed by Sir
The John Soane Mausoleum
John Soane, the celebrated architect of the Bank of England (1788 – 1830), the Dulwich Picture Gallery (1811 – 14) and Holy Trinity Church Marylebone Road (1824 – 8) The Mausoleum was erected in 1816 following his wife’s death in 1815 and entombs his wife and son as well as himself. The central marble cube has four faces for dedicatory inscriptions, enclosed by a marble canopy supported by four Ionic columns. Enclosing this central structure is a stone balustrade with a flight of steps leading down to the vault itself. The understated classicism of the design is widely seen as one of Soane’s inventive creations and the central domed structure influencing Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s design of the K2 and all the subsequent telephone kiosks It is one of only two grade 1 listed monuments in London, the other being Karl Marx’s tomb in Highgate. Burials at the churchyard eventually ceased under the Extramural Interment Act in 1854, and St Pancras and Islington Cemetery was opened in East Finchley. On 28 July 1968, The Beatles were photographed in the churchyard grounds, in a famous series of pictures designed to promote the single “Hey Jude” and the album The Beatles, better known as The White Album.
PORTUGAL STREET PLAQUE The one time headquarters of newsagent retailer W. H. Smith & Son, where large vans would have been busy loading and unloading throughout the day and night. Today in contrast a much quieter back street, with people passing on foot from Kingsway into Carey Street. Not to be found on any tourists trail but worthy of a momentary glance are these two WH Smith plaque plaques. The top one, the original World War II shrapnel damaged sign, proclaiming that orders worldwide would be handled from here. The plate above informs of bomb damage during the blitz on the night of the 10th October 1940. Re-printed from E-View Magazine October 2009. WHITEFRIARS SANCTUARY – MAGPIE ALLEY’S HIDDEN CRYPT Magpie Alley is a hidden cut-through from Bouverie Street to Whitefriars Street, almost opposite where many of us wait when picking up from Freshfields at Northcliffe House. This recently built complex is an unlikely place to find the only remains of the Whitefriars Monastery, hidden for centuries beneath a house where it was used as a coal cellar. This medieval crypt offered sanctuary in the Middle Ages for thieves, murderers and prostitutes, as the law in those times forbid entry to the King’s Soldiers in this monastic crypt.
Magpie Alley’s hidden crypt
After demolishing the News of the World building which occupied the site previously, this hidden chamber was revealed and incorporated into the new development, which can now be seen through a glass window below a flight of steps. Re-printed from E-View Magazine January 2010.
by @radiotaxis_boss Follow the New Football Season on Twitter THE LONDON OLYMPICS ARE ALREADY BECOMING a distant memory but those of us who live in London and enjoy our sport find ourselves drawn in by the start of yet another football season. Last season saw perhaps one the most exciting Premier League seasons of all time with the Title, Champions League and relegation positions all decided in the closing moments of the final week of the season. Last year was also the year that football went mainstream on Twitter with footballers, pundits and supporters all using the forum to communicate with each other and at times conducting lively debates on controversial issues adding another dimension to how we follow the National Game. I have become a regular user of Twitter and it helps me to stay in touch with news about London (and I have to admit my favourite football team is Manchester United – I was born there before you ask, so last season was especially painful for me as it was the noisy neighbours who snatched the title!) But most of all I am a fan of good football. Twitter is convenient in order to
communicate directly with drivers and with customers. I know increasingly drivers are finding it a useful tool when they are out on the road. If you haven’t yet signed up to use Twitter then I would recommend you try it. Just go to www.twitter.com and set up an account. Don’t worry about tweeting if you don’t want to, many people use their account just to follow others. You can follow me at @RadioTaxis_boss I hope readers of Mountview News will find my Twitter account a good way of getting more information about what’s important for our industry, for London and London business and of course for the work of Radio Taxis. Below I have set out some of the more interesting, topical and controversial football accounts you might want to follow to keep up to date with all the developments and debates about our National Game. I hope you enjoy the 2012/2013 football season whatever the fortunes of your team. Geoffrey Riesel.
TOP FOOTBALL TWITTER ACCOUNTS Twitter Name
The official website for the England Football Team and The FA Cup – http://www.TheFA.com
Official Twitter account of the Premeir League http://www.premierleague.com
BBC Sport Football
The latest BBC football news delivered every 30 minutes (or when stories break)
Ex Leicester, Everton, Barcelona, Spurs and Japanese team with just 8 players striker! MOTD bloke and spud flogger extraordinaire
Official Twitter account of Rio Ferdinand http://www.rioferdinand.com
Yes, we may be hidden by rags but we have something they’ll never have… http://www.joeybarton.com
Daily Telegraph Football Corresondent. Columnist for the Sunday Telegraph. My views only. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football
The official Twitter page for Opta Sports’ football coverage. An official member of the Opta Twitter family. Illuminating. http://www.optasports.com
Tweeting from inside the game, read The Secret Footballer’s column online at http://www.thesecretfootballer.com
Attack The Day
The Olympics – Was It Worth It? By Gordon Brown,Chief Operating Officer WELL THE OLYMPICS IS OVER – it was very exciting if you were a spectator. I was lucky enough to get along to two events and the atmosphere was incredible. It gave the nation a great boost with most of us feeling very patriotic. In addition and more importantly for the future London and the UK was seen in a fantastic light by those watching from overseas. However will it translate into a brighter economy for London and of course taxi drivers?
orked very w s a h m a te s le “The Sa rk for you o w e r o m t e g hard to e” during this tim Most of you reading this will, by now, be spitting out your cornflakes at the first few sentences as I know the Olympics have been an incredibly difficult time for many of you with promises of extra street work not materialising. At Radio Taxis the Sales team has worked very hard to get more work for you during this time and I know that quite a number of you benefited from the LOCOG work we won and the additional fares negotiated with LUL, meaning overall we gained the most work of all the radio circuits during this time. So was it worth it? It’s a question that you need to ask again in the next 2 or 3 years but certainly the foundations have been laid: ● The area around Stratford has been transformed and over the next few years the addition of more housing together with shops, bars and restaurants will turn it into a really
vibrant area (it is a pity though that they cannot keep the Park open while they make some of the changes) ● A host of sporting World and European Championships will be coming to London ● Visitors from abroad will already be planning their summer vacations to London after what they saw on their television screens. ● Commerce will also be looking at the feel-good factor around London to see if more business can be attracted: the capital will have been seen in a positive light with happy and smiling people willing to push through any adversity, a transport system that worked and the Spice Girls dancing on top of the famous iconic not so black and slightly bespoke taxi. So the jury is out for now on London as a whole but for Radio Taxis we are more confident. The work we did for LOCOG has shown what we and you as drivers in particular are capable of – including even working with other transport providers when necessary – and we will use this as an opportunity to win new business. See you in Rio!
THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF MUSEUMS throughout London; some of them are world famous and full of tourists, whilst others are less known and need to be searched out to discover where they are and what they have to offer.
The British Postal Museum One such museum, The British Postal Museum and Archive, which before my research had begun was completely unknown to me and therefore I would guess, unknown to most cab drivers. I don’t think I even remember it as a point on the Knowledge.
There are two separate locations to the museum; the archive section which consists of a small exhibition hall and search room, at Freeling House, Phoenix Place, which is close to the Mount Pleasant sorting office. The other Museum is out at Debden in Essex, which is also used as a store, full of vintage vehicles, bikes, telephone boxes, pillar boxes, with the only surviving pneumatic railway trains anywhere in the world. Both museums are absolutely free of charge, although there are donation boxes if you would like to contribute anything. To access the Phoenix Place archives you will need a photo ID like a driving license or passport, with no booking necessary for individuals or small groups. When I attended there was a small exhibition marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, with iconic portraits from stamps, coins and bank notes. Also exhibited was the special stamps issue, featuring a series of photographs chosen of the Queen’s life ‘in action’ as monarch, produced by Kate Stephens, the Diamond Jubilee designer. Early mail bike Once past the small exhibition you enter the much larger search room, which is crammed full of documents, books, newspapers and
“…to dress the post boxes up and try to make them look more attractive in Eastbourne, they put thatched roofs on the top of them!” other memorabilia. Some of the documents available to view are the reports of the Metropolitan Police and the Post Office Investigation Department into the Great Train Robbery. The BPMA (British Postal Museum and Archive) holds a vast amount of documents relating to the Great Train Robbery. The train which consisted of twelve carriages and 72 Post Office staff set off on the 8th August 1963 from Glasgow to Euston. The high value carriage contained £2.6 million in used bank notes which was stolen by fifteen train robbers. Other documents relate to historical events, like the sinking of the Titanic; especially during the centenary year of that disaster; and these items are very interesting. This particular item contains telegrams sent by Bruce Ismay, the designer of the Titanic, to the GPO secretary. Two British Post Office workers, James Bertram Williamson and John Richard Jago Smith (known as Jago) perished in the disaster trying to save 200 sacks of registered mail. Another former postal worker who died on board was John George Phillips and he was the Titanic’s senior wireless operator. Altogether more
An old Morris
than 1,500 lives were lost in this infamous shipping disaster. A bit like the TV programme “Who do you think you are?” you can search records for any relations who might have once worked for the Post Office. I searched their records and found my grandfather listed as a postman in 1892. To find out more Pneumatic trains
and Archive information about a person’s service record and retirement dates a thorough search with micro-film is available. The museum Store in Essex does require a pre-booking for a tour, as there is usually only the one tour each month with a maximum of twenty people. These guided tours start at 1pm and go on for two hours until 3pm; although they might well overrun as ours in fact did. There are two guides, Dominique who will take you through the history of the telephone boxes and Julian whose knowledge of the vehicles, mail trains and letter boxes is truly amazing. Dominique starts the tour with the telephone boxes, the oldest there is the 1920 ‘Silent Cabinet’ a wooden structure just for indoor use in buildings such as hotels, shops, stations and restaurants. They had a lock inside and were sound proof hence the name. Because they were so popular it was decided to provide telephone boxes outside as street furniture. The first one to be invented during 1921was the K1 (kiosk one) which was made of concrete and unfortunately these are not kept in the museum. They were placed all over the UK, although they were not very pleasant to look at with little space inside. To dress them up and try to make them look more attractive, in Eastbourne for example, they put thatched roofs on the top of the boxes! Needless to say they were not very popular with town councils and so a national competition was organised to see who could design the best telephone box. Giles Gilbert Scott was chosen as the winner with the chosen design put into production in cast iron and known as the K2. Although Scott’s design was chosen as the best, it was the architect Sir John Soane (1753 – 1837) whom I believe should take some of the credit (See this month’s Curiosity Corner). The first exhibit Julian pointed out was a Penny Farthing type bicycle invented in 1882 by Edward Burstow, a Horsham architect, naming his invention the ‘Centre Cycle’ or as Julian puts it a Penny Farthing with stabilisers. On the front and rear are baskets for carrying the mail which the small wheels supported. These machines were not in use for long as they soon wore out the postman’s trousers in some unsightly places, which because of the height of the saddle, being at eye level, was to prove to be rather embarrassing! After looking over cycles and motor
Pillar box lessons!
cycles in the collection it was time to see some of the vintage vans of which there were many. The first lorry purchased by the Post Office was a Maudslay which cost £727 back in 1907. During its 23 year service it clocked up over 300,000 miles. There were plenty of vintage vehicles to take you back in time, like the baby Morris Minors, with their classic gold sign writing. The larger Morris vans were bought as chaises only and had the wooden coachwork body made to post office specifications. Because of the large amounts of vehicles in the store they are looking to loan some of them out to other motoring museums where they will get a larger audience. We then moved on to the train section which included the pigeon-holes that would have been fitted to the mail train service for sorting out the post whilst the train was on the move.
Post Office vans
THE POST OFFICE UNDERGROUND RAILWAY Then we came to the story which is behind the Post Offices’ own underground railway network. This network consisted of six and a half miles of tunnels beneath the streets of London where driverless, passenger-less trains would transport sacks of mail from east to west. In 1863, the Post Office inspected a new pneumatic railway which ran nine feet below ground level between Euston Station and Eversholt Street. It was built by the Pneumatic Despatch Company and consisted of wrought iron cars mounted on tracks, with the cars being sucked through the length of the tube, and the journey taking about a minute. 2
expensive using the rail rather than road. After a short break for tea and biscuits we resumed for another hour with Julian’s passion – letter boxes, and the developing stages from the earliest up to the latest. It was surprising to learn that in the countryside a large amount of snails find their way into the pillar boxes, where they lunch on our letters. Could this be what they term as ‘Snail-Mail?’ There were some rarities such as the Edward VIII letter box;
Trials continued until 1866 when the company terminated its arrangements with the Post Office due to financial difficulties. The company later recovered and by 1873 had extended the line to carry mail through to the GPO building in St Martins-leGrand, via a central point in Holborn. However, the Post Office declined to enter into permanent arrangements and mail was carried for the last time in 1874. The only two surviving pneumatic railway trains existing anywhere in the world are displayed in the museum. They were discovered whilst removing a length of tube at Euston; the trains had been stuck inside the tube and therefore had to be cut away which left one of the trains in two halves. By the beginning of the 20th century, it was decided to look again at transporting mail beneath the streets of London and by 1913 the Post Office (London) Railway Bill was passed by a select committee of the House of Lords. This time the trains would be powered by electricity. Construction work began in 1914, tunnels were dug out about 70 feet below ground connecting eight stations from the West End to the East End; Paddington, Baker Street, Wimpole Street, High Holborn, Mount Pleasant, King Edward Buildings, Liverpool Street and Whitechapel. The original rolling stock of 90 trains had to be scrapped within three years because of design faults. They were not articulated and excessive wear had been suffered by both trains and track. New trains were introduced in 1930, each 27-foot long single car train able to carry four mailbag containers. Every container held an average of 15 bags of letters or six bags of parcels. The trains were still in action until 1981 when they were replaced by 34 new trains at a cost of £1 million. Sadly the ‘Rail Mail’ ceased to operate from midnight on the 31st May 2003 in a cost cutting exercise, as it was reported to be five times more
as we all know, he was the uncrowned King who abdicated to marry Mrs Simpson, so only a few of these letter boxes were ever produced carrying his Royal Crest. Rowland Hill invented the first postage stamp, the Penny Black. Everyone has heard of the Penny Black as a rare stamp, but much rarer is the two-penny (tuppeny) Blue; there were over 80 million Penny Blacks as opposed to just 270, 000 “Tuppeny Blues.” Britain was the first country in the world to introduce the stamp and therefore it is the only country which does not need the country of origin printed on it. Rowland Hill’s desk is another item kept by the museum. If you would like to visit the Store at Debden in Essex, the Stores address is: The British Postal Museum Store, Unit 7 Imprimo Park, Lenthall Road, Loughton, Essex IG10 3UF. Book Online: http://postalheritage.org.uk/page/tour-museum The good news for future visits is that the Post Office Stores at Debden and the Archives at Phoenix Place are to amalgamate into new premises to be built at Calthorpe House adjoining the Mount Pleasant Post Office. My kind thanks goes to; Jenny Karlsson, PR & Communications Officer, The British Postal Museum & Archive; and also to Dominique and Julian for the Debden Stores Tour. Roger Sligo. Photos on this page ©Royal Mail Group Ltd 2012 / The British Postal Museum & Archive.
Life In The Fast Lane! Head of Sales and account Management Roy Hughes takes a “tongue in cheek” look at Addison Lee’s egotistical boss John Griffin. I am usually an admirer of the impartiality and professionalism of our judicial system – after all its been a long time since we hung, drew and quartered anybody (although I can think of a few deserving candidates). However, I was “shocked” at an “outrageous” miscarriage of justice, recently perpetrated against one business leader in the ground transport industry. I am of course referring to Mr Justice Eder’s judgement against Mr John Griffin and his minicab firm for exhorting his drivers to unlawfully use the bus lanes. There is obviously a precedent for services “vital” to London’s transport infrastructure to be John Griffin granted immunity from the law. For example, ambulances and fire engines are allowed to break the speed limit, by the simple expediency of flashing their lights and sounding their sirens! According to the Addison Lee bosses “logic,” this is clearly prejudicial to the rights of Mr Griffin’s minicab drivers to ply their trade without discrimination and the European Court of Justice should be “alerted?” Furthermore, I have also written to LOCOG to complain about Mr Danny Boyle’s ‘Isles of Wonder’ Olympic opening ceremony. Firstly, a Licensed London Taxi, with a Mr James Bond on board, was clearly seen taking, what appeared to be a short cut from the Mall to Victoria Street via Buckingham Palace – yet, astonishingly, no action appears to have been taken by the Police. Secondly, during the ceremony itself – celebrating all things great about Britain – a Licensed London Taxi appeared prominently on several occasions, yet nowhere did I see one of Mr Griffin’s minicabs. In the week that Mr Griffin’s minicab firm acquired a new PR company to try to change all the bad press they’re receiving, a story appeared in the press suggesting that LOCOG had asked Mr Griffin’s firm to provide vehicles to support their contracted bus service to Olympic officials and athletes. The fact that LOCOG completely dismissed this nonsense as an unsubstantiated rumour and that they were delighted with their choice of transport partners (us), is somewhat irrelevant. However I feel that an opportunity was missed for the world’s finest athletes to be transported by “iconic” minicabs who could show off their impressive “knowledge” of how to use a Sat Nav; that of course would have left a lasting impression of London 2012! In fact, I suspect there is a much broader conspiracy of deliberate discrimination against Mr Griffin’s minicabs, involving, amongst others; TfL, James Bond, Usain Bolt, Dizzee Rascal, the Spice Girls and the hundreds of thousands of customers who consistently choose London’s licensed taxis in preference to one of Mr Griffin’s vehicles.
Charlie Chaplin’ “The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury” Charlie Chaplin.
From the archives of Roy Export Company Establishment.
FORTUNATELY FOR MOVIEGOERS AND lovers of slapstick comedy, a young lad from South London arrived for his second tour of America exactly onehundred years ago in October 1912. Within a year of his arrival in America, this cockney Londoner would become the most recognised film actor throughout the world, without even uttering a single word. Against all odds this kid from the slums of London would become the greatest tramp of all time and one day even receive a knighthood from her Majesty the Queen.
In 1881 Charlie Chaplin Senior, while touring the music halls in the provinces, with a production of an Irish melodrama ‘Shamus O’Brien’, met and fell in love with Hannah Hill, who had picked the stage name Lily Harley. She was influenced somewhat by her favourite music hall idol Lily Langtry. Three years into their courtship, Hannah had fallen for another man Sydney Hawkes, who claimed to be an English aristocrat. Sydney invited her to run off with him to South Africa where they would live with his wealthy family on their plantation with a promise to marry her once she was settled in there. Sydney, an East London Jew turned out to be a Charlie’s father con man, and once Hannah arrived in South Africa, she soon became pregnant with his child; giving birth on March 16th 1885 to a baby boy she named Sidney John Hill, which was later changed to Sydney Chaplin. Once she realised she had been conned, she lost no time in returning back to England and reuniting herself with her first sweetheart Charles Chaplin Senior, who was willing to forgive her. They lived together in a rooming house at 57 Brandon Street, Walworth, where he supported her both emotionally and financially throughout the pregnancy, taking on the roll of father to another man’s son. Three months after Sydney’s birth on June 22nd Hannah, twenty and Charlie twenty-two, Hannah Chaplin, Charlie’s mother were married. The young and affluent good-looking couple must have been the envy of their street. Charles Chaplin Senior was a well paid music hall entertainer during this time, playing most of London’s top venues, places such as the Canterbury on Westminster Bridge Road. He would appear on stage as an elegant swell complete with top hat, with a glass of bubbly in one hand and a walking stick in the other, a fine character actor with a baritone voice, singing comic songs of ordinary life, about errant husbands and nagging wives, and men looking for a good time. It was during these affluent years of family life, that Charles Spencer Chaplin entered the world on April 16th 1889 in East Street, close to the Walworth Road. The first three years of Chaplin’s young life were to East Street be happy and secure times
s Early Life in London – The Kid with loving parents. His father was kept busy touring the music halls during his fifteen-year career, with his mother still singing on stage, albeit as a well paid backing singer to the famous music hall star, Leo Dryden. It was during her husband Charlie’s successful tour of America playing in such grand places as Union Square Theatre in New York, that Hannah and Dryden became lovers. Once Chaplin arrived back from his tour and Hannah’s affair with Dryden became apparent their marriage broke up and ended finally in divorce. With Dryden and Hannah living together as man and wife for the next two and a half years, Hannah became pregnant with Leo’s child, a son they named Wheeler Dryden. Wheeler was snatched soon after his birth by the boy’s father Leo. It would be many years afterwards that the brothers Sydney and Charlie were to discover the existence of their half-brother Wheeler. It was during the aftermath of the failed marriage that Hannah and the boys really struggled, as their mother literally sang for their supper until her voice finally burnt out. This happened when five year old Charlie was backstage at the Aldershot Canteen, which was full of rowdy soldiers who packed out the dingy smoke filled hall. As her voice began to crock, (she was suffering from a larynx condition) objects were thrown at her with jeering and heckling taking place. Charlie could see how upset and distressed his mother was as she walked off the stage to the wings where Charlie was standing. During later years he would recall this experience; “When she came into the wings she was very upset and argued with the stage manager who, having seen me perform before mother’s friends, said something about letting me go on in her place.” Charlie was led onto the stage in front of the noisy crowd where he began to sing a well known song of the time “Jack Jones” the orchestra followed along with the accompaniment. Half way through the song the jeers had turned to cheers, and the objects now being thrown were those of money. Charlie announced he would pick up the money first and sing afterwards. This caused much laughter, especially when the stage manager came running on to help gather up the coins in his handkerchief. Charlie was worried the manager would keep it all so he tried to stop him. This made the audience laugh even louder as they watched Charlie run off stage following the manager, and refusing to return on stage until the money was handed over to his mother. At the end of his song his mother went on stage to carry him off, her presence evoked a tremendous applause. This was to be Charlie’s first night on stage and his mother’s last.
THE VAGABOND After her singing career was over, Hannah rented a sewing machine and became a seamstress working from home. Hannah and the boys moved into lodgings at 39 Methley Street, with a slaughterhouse and a pickle factory for neighbours. Kennington in those times was a far cry from the middle class Kennington of today. Dingy streets full of poverty with street urchins, real life Oliver Twist’s roaming around. There was a neighbour living close by called Archibald (Rummy) Binks, who walked with a funny shuffle which young Charlie would mimic.
39 Methley Road
287 Kennington Road
Years later Chaplin would recall: “He (Rummy Binks) had a bulbous nose, a crippled up rheumatic body, a swollen and distorted pair of feet and the most extraordinary pair of trousers I ever saw. He must have got the trousers from a giant and he was a little man. When I saw Rummy shuffle his way across the pavement to hold a cabman’s horse for a penny tip, I was fascinated. The walk was so funny to me that I imitated it. When I showed my mother how Rummy walked, she begged me to stop because it was cruel to imitate a misfortune like that. But she pleaded while she had her apron stuffed into her mouth. Then she went into the pantry and giggled for ten minutes. Day after day I cultivated that walk. It became an obsession. Whenever I pulled it, I was sure of a laugh. Now no matter what else I may do that is amusing, I can never get away from the walk.” Rummy would stand outside of the Queen’s Head public house, in Black Prince Road, where Charles Senior was a regular; he would get the cabs from the nearby rank, with the cabbies tipping him a penny. Being a mimic Charlie soon found, that it made him a few more friends and a few enemies too. One neighbour in nearby Walcot Gardens was trying to work through the noise of kids laughing. When he looked out from his upstairs window he saw Charlie The Queen’s Head entertaining his mates by mimicking some of the locals. As the neighbour came running down stairs he heard Charlie say “Ladies and gentlemen a slight impression of the bloke upstairs who comes down to chase us.” The annoyed neighbours face turned red as he watched himself being portrayed by the young lad. It was around these times that Hannah developed her blinding headaches, where she would lie for hours in a darkened room. These headaches were attributed to the many hours she worked sewing, sometimes for fourteen hours a day. She was hospitalised in the Lambeth Infirmary in Brook Drive, which is still standing, although it is now a private block of apartments. Because Hannah was no longer able to work, the boys were sent to the workhouse, which has also been converted into private residential homes, with the gateposts, porters lodge and main blocks still surviving. After three weeks both Charlie and Syd were sent to an orphanage at Hanwell in Middlesex, about 12 miles from Kennington, transported through the streets by horse and cart, a scene he later recalled in the film “The Kid” where the young five year old kid played by Jackie Coogan, (many years later Coogan
would become well known as Uncle Fester in the 1960’s T.V programme The Addams Family) was snatched away from Charlie in a horse and cart in a heart rendering scene. Meanwhile Hannah was committed to the Cane Hill Lunatic Asylum in Sussex, where she had been confined to a padded room on account of her sudden violence. The two boys, unlike some of the inmates at the orphanage, still had loving parents, albeit that their mother was unwell and their father an alcoholic, and refusing to pay any maintenance money towards the boys upbringing. Chaplin recorded his orphanage days in his book “My Autobiography” ‘although at Hanwell we were looked after, sadness was in the air; it was in those country lanes through which we walked, a hundred of us two abreast. How I disliked those walks, and the villages through which we passed, the locals staring at us! We were known as inmates of the “booby hatch”, a slang term for workhouse.’ Charlie’s first professional stage act was at the age of nine on Christmas day 1898. Charles Senior was on tour appearing at the Manchester Theatre Royal, with Charlie spending time visiting his father. Also on the same bill was a clog dancing troop the Eight Lancashire Lads, who happened to be a boy short, so young Charlie was picked to make up number eight. The Eight Lancashire Lads toured the country playing the top music hall venues including those around London such as the Oxford, the Canterbury and the Paragon, Mile End. One day in 1901 as Charlie was passing the Three Stags pub in the Kennington Road, he caught a glimpse of his father seated by a table near the window. He was shocked by his father’s appearance with this once handsome man now in the final stages
The Three Stags Pub
The Kid © Roy Export S.A.S.
A scene from the film “The Kid”
of cirrhosis of the liver, puffy faced and his body swollen almost beyond recognition. In late April his father was admitted to St Thomas’s Hospital and died there on the 9th May 1901 aged thirty seven. The former music hall star had a good send off paid for by his brother Albert, although sadly his final resting place was in a pauper’s grave. After leaving the Eight Lancashire Lads in1902, Charlie rejoined his mother back at Kennington, by this time his brother Syd had joined the Merchant Navy. Charlie took on various jobs to help pay the rent. Some of his jobs included a clerk in a shop selling lamp oil, a barber’s assistant, a printer’s assistant, a glassblower’s assistant. A newspaper boy seemed a better suited job for Charlie’s abilities. He took a job with a company running newspaper stands. Charlie was given responsibility for his own stand outside Clapham Common tube station. In July of 1903 Charlie was back on the stage playing a newspaper boy “Sam” in a play by H.A. Saintsbury – A Romance of Cockayne; The play itself had bad reviews although the Topical Times reported; “one redeeming feature, Master Charles Chaplin, a bright and vigorous actor. I have never heard of the boy before, but I hope to hear great things of him in the future.” Another part followed with Charlie playing Billy the page boy in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes play, ‘The Crown Diamond’ which later became printed as a short story called ‘The Mazarin Stone’. This was an important role for fourteen year old Charlie, playing the page boy who shared rooms with Holmes whilst Doctor Watson was away on leave. FRED KARNO AND THE FUN FACTORY Fred Karno was born Fredrick Westcott in Exeter in 1866, the eldest of seven children of a cabinet maker. By the time Fred had become forty-eight he was already an entrepreneur of slapstick comedy with a flair for publicity. He built himself an elaborate studio headquarters at 26 Vaughan Road in Camberwell (renamed Southwell Road) known as Fred Karno’s Fun Factory. The Fun Factory employed two hundred staff, thirty touring companies appearing worldwide, with a repertoire of twenty-plus comedy
When Karno’s circus went on tour, the whole neighbourhood turned out to wave them off. There were several buses and charabancs lined up and full of the acts which were not only booked to play to audiences in England’s music halls, but also travelling across the Atlantic to the United States, playing in Vaudeville, which is where Syd was heading for during his first year. After Syd’s return from the States back to London he attempted to get Karno to employ his kid brother, but Karno was having none of that. Syd finally managed to persuade Karno to interview and audition Charlie. Not too impressed with Charlie’s boyish face and his skinny five foot four height, and his nervous presentation, Karno decided to give the young lad a try-out in a sketch entitled ‘The Football Match’ only as a favour to Syd, whose judgement he respected. That first night on stage at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire Charlie was duly aware he needed to be successful to Fred Karno Fun Factory gain a year’s contract with Karno. Mustering up all the tricks of sketches written and produced by Fred himself. the trade his mother had taught him, he made his entrance on The Fun Factory, surprisingly enough, is still standing and stage. When Karno came to see how Syd’s kid brother was doing relatively unchanged after more than a century. It now comprises two nights later, the applause from the audience reassured him he of Clockwork Studios which is a unit of companies. had made the right decision. By the time Syd I visited it for a photo shoot one Saturday returned from playing shows in the provinces, afternoon, and was lucky enough to find a Charlie had been signed by Fred Karno for couple of the workers still on the a year, with the option to sign for premises. Once I had explained my another two years. interest about Chaplin and the Now the two brothers both had Karno Fun Factory, they were good wages coming in each week happy to show me some of their and decided to buy their own framed pictures displayed in property, a four-room flat at the hallway from the glory days of 15 Glenshaw Mansions, Brixton the ‘Karno’s House of Fun’. I was Road. During his first year with told to make sure to visit the adjoining Karno, Charlie fell in love with a young property belonging to Conor Irish showgirl by the name of Hetty Masterson, an Irish photographer who was Fred Karno on tour Kelly. Standing in the wings of the Streatham somewhat of a Fred Karno expert. Again my luck Empire one summer’s day in 1908 and waiting to was in as after knocking on his door I found Conor was at go on stage, Charlie became infatuated with the young home. I asked if his house was part of the Fun Factory; and to my showgirl, who asked him to hold her mirror whilst she checked her surprise I discovered that his house was Karno’s office. makeup. This love affair was to last only eleven days, but After Sydney Chaplin left the navy in July of 1906 he took a job the memory would last Charlie for many years to come. In 1916 as one of the principle comedians to appear in Karno’s pantomime he wrote a love song inspired by Hetty called “There’s Always sketches, working for the “Governor”. The Fun Factory became the One You Can’t Forget” Charlie was never able to wipe his hive of industry with all the props including curtains and first sweetheart out of his mind entirely, until sometime later when backdrops being manufactured and painted on the premises. It is he learned of her death. said that the very first custard pie to be thrown at the face was Playing the drunken swell in the hit show ‘Mumming Birds’ rehearsed in this establishment, and was invented by Fred himself. gave Charlie the part which brought him to the limelight. The part required Charlie to act as a drunken member of the audience who would heckle at the performers during the show. Knowing only too well how his father played the drunken swell and how Rummy walked about erratically the Chaplin genius soon shone through, as the audience revelled in this comical drunk. During the winter of 1910 whilst Charlie played a cockney in the lead role in The Boy ‘Ero at the Holloway Empire, Alf Reeves, Karno’s troupe manager, talked Karno into sending Chaplin with the next Stateside tour a few weeks later. State after State, the Karno player’s zigzagged across America, from St. Louis, Minneapolis, St Paul, Kansas City, Denver, New York to California, twice in the space of twenty-one months, returning to England in the late spring of 1912. Discovering on his return that he was now homeless as brother Syd had married and sold their Brixton Road flat, Charlie Glenshaw Mansions, Brixton Road was once again on his own. He returned to the States aboard
SS Oceanic during October 1912, this twenty-three year old cockney lad now felt that this time New York was his home. After a full years touring, the following October of 1913, Charlie had signed a contract with The New York Picture Company which had four associate companies including Keystone. When Mack Sennett first set eyes on Charlie he was surprised how young he was, expecting a much older man, and after filming Chaplin’s first picture “Making a Living” for Keystone, which they released on the 2nd February 1914, Sennett was ready to fire this young Englishman. Giving Chaplin a second chance with the film “Kid Auto Races at Venice” Chaplin introduced for the first time the “Tramp” character. Sennett had told Charlie to go to wardrobe and put on comedy makeup anything will do. In My Autobiography Charlie recalled; “I had no idea what make-up to put on. On the way to the wardrobe I thought I would dress in baggy pants, big shoes, a cane and a derby hat.
I wanted everything a contradiction: the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large. I was undecided whether to look old or young, but remembering Sennett had expected me to be a much older man, I added a small moustache... I had no idea of the character. But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the make-up made me feel the person that I was. I began to know him, and by the time I walked on to the stage he was fully born.” After journeying to America a hundred years ago, this south London boy who had been so familiar with the Kennington area; with its streets, its pubs and its buildings, which now remain relatively unchanged, he became the most famous star of the silent films, with riches beyond belief. He never, however, forgot his humble upbringing; “A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.” Sir Charles Chaplin KBE. ■ Roger Sligo.
CHAPLIN FACTS… ■ Chaplin made more than 80 films over his long distinguished career. ■ Chaplin was born just four days before Adolf Hitler in 1889. Even though Hitler hated Chaplin, he grew a small moustache because of Chaplin’s popularity, just to make himself more appealing to people. ■ Chaplin composed more than 500 melodies as backing sounds for his movies. ■ He wrote two of the world’s greatest songs; “This is My Song” and “Smile”. ■ Many of his film sets were designed by him and were based on places he knew in Kennington they include the Lambeth Workhouse gates for the opening shots of The Kid and Methley Street from the film Easy Street.
■ Chaplin’s dead body was stolen for two months in 1978 by a group of Swiss Mechanics who wanted blackmail money. He is now re-buried in a vault in Switzerland encased in cement.
■ Fred Karno’s other major film artist included the Lancashire Lad Stanley Jefferson, who went on to become Stan Laurel of comedy duo Laurel & Hardy fame. ■ Fred Karno died penniless in 1941, after buying Tagg’s Island and building a hotel which also included a casino and naming it “The Karsino”. His grand houseboat the Astoria survives and has now been adapted as a recording studio by its present owner, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. It is still moored at Taggs Island on the River Thames near Hampton. 28
Radio Taxis has “Lived” in the Finsbury Park area since about 1970, when we moved to 157 Stroud Green Road, from West Hill, Highgate. We next moved in 1990 to Mountview House, so we do have history here.
The Park Theatre and The Evolution of Finsbury Park By Robert MacDonald Watson, Group Company Secretary
Park Theatre Facade
Park Theatre – The Main House
Park Theatre Auditorium
Finsbury Park is a real hub. Not only is it on the boundaries of three London Boroughs, Haringey, Islington and Hackney but it also has the major transport interchange at Finsbury Park Station. The Park itself was officially opened in 1869, giving North Londoners a lung full of fresher air. In its locale, it has a track and gym, a skate park, the American Garden, football pitches, a bowling green, tennis courts, a lake and even softball, baseball, basketball and an American football field. It has also just undergone a £5m Heritage Lottery Fund restoration and improvement programme. You will also find Alexander McKenzie’s historical flower gardens and the Furtherfield Gallery, London’s first gallery for all networked media art. Finsbury Park Station was originally built in 1861 as part of the Great Northern Railway. What is now known as the Northern Line appeared in 1904, the Piccadilly Line in 1906 and finally, the Victoria line in 1968 (with an official opening of the line in 1969) when the Northern Line was cut back to Drayton Park. In 2007 the station was refurbished with new shops, businesses and restaurants following. Now 2.5million passengers a year interchange at Finsbury Park. There is an £80m local development plan, the City North Scheme, for shops offices and c.200 homes in the Fonthill Road, although this is still in planning. However, planning has been granted for a state of the art building for the bespoke framer John Jones together with a 450 bedroom student accommodation courtyard scheme, affordable housing and commercial units. The area itself acquired some unwelcome notoriety when extremists operated out of the North London Mosque, but with new leadership taking over there in 2003 things have gone back to normal. Just to the south is located the Arsenal Football Club’s state of the art Emirates Stadium which can be viewed really well from the railway travelling towards Kings Cross. Moving on to Arts and culture, Finsbury Park has produced John Lydon of Sex Pistols fame and actresses Kate Beckinsale, Minnie Driver, Emily Mortimer and Naomi Harris. The latest Arts project is the building of the £2.2m new Park Theatre Café and Bar complex in Wells Terrace, just 100 metres from one of the Station’s exits. Jez Bond, Artistic Director and previously a freelance director of regional and touring productions, found the location for the Park Theatre in 2009. Construction is well underway to produce a 200 seat two tier Theatre, a 90 seat studio and a Café Bar with a late licence. It will involve an off West End writing programme, increasing young people’s access to the Theatre and it will provide the local area with its first Theatre for 50 years since the old Empire closed down. It is hoped to be a “catalyst for positive change in North 4”. The Park Theatre has attracted a stellar list of Ambassadors and supporters to help it raise funds and profile. These include Sir Ian McKellen, Tamzin Outhwaite, Celia Imrie, Roger Lloyd Pack, David Horovitch, Sean Mathias and the latest Ambassador Hattie Morahan. Jez Bond is joined by his wife Melli Bond as Creative Director and Sarah Rutherford as Writer in Residence and an energetic and lively artistic management team. Currently, the team has raised £250,000 towards the £400,000 target so that part of the complex that would otherwise have been used as flats and now will house an education suite. The Theatre is due to open in early 2013 and there is a fund raising gala night at the Globe Theatre in September. In June, the three boroughs met at the Theatre to sign the Finsbury Park Accord. This is an 11 point plan to treat the area as a single town centre with a view to overcoming the problems of crime, housing and unemployment. The facade of the Theatre is almost finished and a majority of the steelwork is in place for the two auditoriums. We now look forward to the roof going on in the coming weeks. The new Park Theatre is eagerly awaited and Radio Taxis is happy to have also become associated in a small way with the Theatre and we hope drivers will get to know it as well as their passengers.
The Mayor’s Thames Festival 2012 By Roger Sligo THE MAYOR’S THAMES FESTIVAL IS LONDON’S largest free festival and one of Europe’s most spectacular two-day event, which is now in its sixteenth year. I was aware for some time of its existence, although I hadn’t a clue what to expect and although it boasts some 800,000 visitors it has never had the same publicity as other street festivals such as the Notting Hill Carnival. You would think that being a Thames Festival it would be mostly about sailing vessels and such like, although nothing could be further from the truth. Sure boats, barges and ships are involved, although a good many of the visitors, especially young children find that the river banks have a lot more going on to interest them, all the way from St Katharine Docks to the London Eye.
This year of course was a special year with crowds of visitors coming to see the final day of the Paralympics, with the Marathon taking place across the City, along the Embankment and down to the finishing line at The Mall. Arriving as I did from Fenchurch Street Station, I could hear the cheers from spectators as I walked along the back streets leading to Tower Hill, where it was buzzing with excitement. Loud drum beats whipping up the excited crowds every time a wheelchair contestant came flying past. The added advantage of this particular spot was that you got to see the same athletes twice as they doubled back from around the Minories.
The speed of these machines resulted in only seeing a fleeting glimpse before they were gone! This was the closest I had been to any of the events surrounding the Olympics and I could see why so many people had got so much excitement and pleasure from the games. Not wishing to spend too much time watching the Marathon, I soon made my way to St Katherine’s Docks. Being a hot “Indian Summer’s” day with reported temperatures of 82 degrees, you can imagine the amount of people visiting the Classic Boats section at the marina and checking out some of the crafts moored in the docks. The first to catch my eye was the old steam tug “Portwey” built on the Clyde in 1927 she derived her name from Portland and Weymouth Coaling Company and worked her way from there to Falmouth. The Portwey was used for training troops for the D-Day landings and it was a recovery craft for the American ships. During the battle a German E boat got caught amongst the American ships and started to torpedo them. Dead American seamen were loaded onto the Portwey and it was said in the newsreels at the time that you couldn’t see the deck for the amount of bodies piled up on it! Chinese lanterns adorned the masts on the deck of the “Lando” a Chinese sailing boat invited to the 2012 London Olympic Games cultural parade. Inside the
boat a lady played music on a harp. The lounge and cabins were so comfortable in such tranquil surrounding. With the London Assembly as a backdrop outside the “Scoop” at More London, where packed audiences watched 600 London school children perform a new song written by the award-winning British traditional singer Sam Lee to celebrate the tenth year of the Kids’ Choir, followed by choirs from across the UK singing in a unique massed choir concert on behalf of Water Aid. The Thames sailing barge “Lady Daphne” recreated history by sailing through the Festival site on this historic vessel and causing Tower Bridge to lift several times. I could not help recalling how frustrating it is when you are stuck there in the traffic as the bridge opens and yet looking through the tourist’s eyes it is a wonder to behold. With the Union flag flying from one side of the top walkway and St Georges flag flying on the other side, no other city on earth can look so majestic and beautiful. Tower Bridge is mistakenly “recognised” throughout the world as London Bridge. Next time I get caught in my cab trying to cross over it I will think of the wonderful excitement this open bridge creates. Funny how we can travel far and wide and yet can we honestly say we have seen anything better than this? Looking out at the Pool of London I noticed some barges having BargeDriving Races. Teams competed with each other in this impressive race, requiring both skill and strength. I noticed one of the barges was displaying the RMT sign. Could Bob Crow possibly be one of the rowers on the left wearing a cap? There was so much to see and do in this two day event that after spending all day on Sunday cramming in as much as I could possibly do, I felt there were plenty
of other things I didn’t have time to see. As the evening sky grew dark, it was time for the Night Carnival which brought together over 1,500 dancers, drummers and masqueraders with Soca music and Brazilian Latin on the menu to welcome Rio as the next Olympic City. The parade made its way from the starting line at Upper Ground, then across Blackfriars Bridge and along the Embankment where a firework finale ended the evening.
One thing I think we can all agree on, even with the downturn in work during the Olympics, is that 2012 has been an exciting year, beginning with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; the Olympics and the Paralympics; and it has made London, the great city that it is, the place for us all to be proud of once again. ■ Roger Sligo
Cyber Mirth NOW THIS IS A MAN’S BBQ! BBQ RULES During our Summer of changeable weather, if you managed to have a barbecue did you observe “the rules?” So here is the etiquette of BBQ’s –
More routine… (6) The woman goes inside to organise the plates and cutlery. (7) The woman comes out to tell the man that the meat is looking great.
When a man volunteers to do the BBQ the following chain of events are put into motion:
He thanks her and asks if she will bring another beer while he flips the meat.
Routine… (1) The woman buys the food. (2) The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables, and makes dessert. (3) The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man who is lounging beside the grill – beer in hand. (4) The woman remains outside the compulsory three meter exclusion zone where the exuberance of testosterone and other manly bonding activities can take place without the interference of the woman.
Important again: (8) THE MAN TAKES THE MEAT OFF THE GRILL AND HANDS IT TO THE WOMAN.
Here comes the important part: (5) THE MAN PLACES THE MEAT ON THE GRILL.
More routine… (9) The woman prepares the plates, salad, bread, utensils, napkins, sauces, and brings them to the table. (10) After eating, the woman clears the table and does the dishes. And most important of all: (11) Everyone PRAISES the MAN and THANKS HIM for his cooking efforts. (12) The man asks the woman how she enjoyed ‘her night off ’ and upon seeing her annoyed reaction, concludes that there’s just no pleasing some women!
WHAT CONFUCIUS DIDN’T SAY... Man who wants pretty nurse, must be patient. Lady who goes camping must beware of evil intent. Man who leaps off cliff jumps to conclusion. Man who runs in front of car gets tired, but man who runs behind car gets exhausted. Man who eats many prunes get good run for money. War does not determine who is right, it determines who is left. Man who drives like hell is bound to get there. Man who live in glass house should change clothes in basement. He who eat crackers in bed get crummy sleep. Finally, CONFUCIUS DID SAY… “A lion will not cheat on his wife, but a Tiger Wood!”
The New Royal Oak Cabbies Café “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow” Geoffrey Chaucer.
MANY DRIVERS WILL RECALL the Royal Oak Taxi Centre which ran along the sidings and platforms of the Royal Oak Station. It first opened its doors in the late 1980’s and had everything drivers could possibly want. Not only a good quality restaurant but also fuel pumps, cab wash, a confectionery shop selling newspapers, cigarettes, sweets and parts for the cab such as fan belts and bulbs. It also provided a video club for the hiring of top video films. At one time even Mann and Overton had a service centre at the Oak, so you could get those odd warranty jobs done whilst having your lunch. For night drivers there was Norman who had a van full of every taxi part known to man. How he had everything stashed in his two-ton van was a miracle to behold. Hundreds of drivers must owe a small debt of gratitude to Norman for getting them out of trouble and back on the road during the night shift, I know that I do. After more than twenty-years the weeds began to grow and what was once the finest eatery for taxi-drivers became dilapidated (and that was only the food)! Then a taxi-driver named John Anderson took over and the quality of the food again became something to enjoy whilst relaxing away from the cab. Unfortunately for John, who had invested heavily in this restaurant, Crossrail came along and John was consequently forced to relocate. It has taken a couple of years to get the right location and now John is once again making a go of it. The Royal Oak is currently licensed to open 7am – 7pm Monday – Saturday, although they are trying to get an extension to stay open until 11pm. I took a good look around and I am pleased to say that the car
park has plenty of available spaces. Inside the café is also spacious with no less than three flat screen wall mounted TV’s. The table and chairs are heavy solid wood which you would expect to find in many of the top class restaurants. I found one of Radio Taxis’ drivers – Jerome Lee, (Sierra 74), just getting into his cab. I asked Jerome what he thought of the new “Oak” – he said he was very impressed and thought that John Jerome Lee (Sierra 74) Anderson had invested a lot of money in this new venture. He also said it was a shame that it had to close at 7pm but as a day driver it suited him. Jerome told me that he likes the new computer screen in his cab. “I don’t need to wear my glasses anymore, which is amazing” he admitted. We started talking shop and he said that of all the credit card jobs he has done since the new chip and pin, only two never tipped him. If you are near Paddington and want a decent meal then take a left into Hermitage Street, go through the car wash until you enter the large parking area. The New Royal Oak has managed to maintain last year’s prices and they now look forward to offering value for money with quality food and great service. ■ Roger Sligo
The Mountview Amusing Caption Competition Can you write an amusing caption for the picture opposite? A £25 Marks & Spencers Gift Voucher will be awarded for the most amusing caption. Email your caption along with your name and call sign to: firstname.lastname@example.org – Good luck!
Last Issue’sWinner was... Our June Caption Contest (left) resulted in the following caption being judged the funniest: “Stupid SAT NAV!” By Ernie Stickle G042 Ernie has won a bottle of bubbly to celebrate with.
Accepting TAXICHARGE on the street IT HAS COME TO OUR ATTENTION that one or two drivers have become a bit forgetful with regards to accepting Taxicharge card trips from the street. More than 10,000 Taxicharge cards have been issued to our clients and these cards are a big selling point when accounts are won and decide to open with us – therefore they are used. A Taxicharge trip is generated in much the same way as a credit card trip, using the swipe device. If you are not familiar with the operation to create a Taxicharge card trip in the cab, then you are always welcome to come along to Station Road and we will go through the procedure with you to refresh your memory. Better to remind yourself how it’s done than face a complaints committee for refusing to take a Taxicharge card for any reason – there is no reason to refuse a Taxicharge card, so please remember that.
The Mountview Puzzler Page CLUES ACROSS 1. Careful (8) 6. Type of gun (4) 8. Install new wiring (6) 9. Take into custody (6) 10. Breezy (5) 11. Against (7) 13. Grow teeth (6) 15. Remove silt from river (6) 17. Flightless bird (7) 19. Away (5) 22. Pertaining to the Alps (6) 23. Musical dramas (6) 24. Yorkshireman (4) 25. Singer (8)
CLUES DOWN 2. Anthropoid (3-4) 3. Next after the second (5) 4. Augury (4) 5. Frenzied rush (8) 6. Miserly person (7) 7. Result (5) 12. Tutors (8) 14. White ant (7) 16. Rubbish (7) 18. Spread out (5) 20. Poetry (5) 21. Connect (4)
MOUNTVIEW SUDOKU TWO Puzzles here for this issue of Mountview News for you to give your brains a really good work out! The object is to write in the missing numbers in the empty boxes below. But to satisfy only one condition: each row, column and 3 x 3 box must contain the digits 1 through to 9 exactly once. What could be simpler? Hooked? Well you can find many more Sudoko puzzles online free by going to: www.sudoku.cc
CHIEF RENTALS is proud to announce that they have joined forces with Radio Taxis as their main supplier of replacement licensed Radio Taxis for their drivers who find themselves involved in the unfortunate circumstance of a non-fault accident. This specialist service enables Radio Taxis drivers who are involved in such an incident to get straight back to work and more importantly, back on the Radio Taxis circuit as all replacement vehicles supplied by Chief Rentals are fitted with a Radio Taxis terminal. Other aspects of this exceptional service also include repair management of the driver’s own vehicle as well as the handling of all personal injury claims, either from injured drivers or their injured passengers. Not only are these services available to Radio Taxis drivers, but Chief Rentals has also agreed to expand them to drivers’
families and friends who may also find themselves in a similar predicament following a non-fault accident and requiring a like-for-like replacement vehicle. Chief Rentals look forward to working with both Radio Taxis and their drivers long-term into the future and endeavour to provide them with an outstanding service that will keep everyone ‘on-circuit’ and at work during difficult times. To find out more with no obligation, please call us FREE on the number above.
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