5 Great Newport Street, London
5 Great Newport Street, London
Stephen Richards, geograph.org.uk // CC BY-SA 2.0

Every London Cabbie Should Know How to Find This Peculiar Coat Hook

5 Great Newport Street, London
5 Great Newport Street, London
Stephen Richards, geograph.org.uk // CC BY-SA 2.0

At a large intersection near London's Leicester Square, sharp-eyed pedestrians will be able to spot a mysterious coat hook drilled into a building façade near 5 Great Newport Street. According to Atlas Obscura, the hook was placed there for a very specific group of people—traffic cops.

London's first motorists didn't trust traffic lights. The city installed its first red-yellow-green signals at the junction of St. James's Street and Piccadilly only in 1925, and most major intersections still employed Metropolitan Police officers to direct traffic. At the junction of Great Newport Street, Garrick Street, Long Acre, Cranbourn Street, and Upper St. Martins Lane, cars and carriages depended on a bobby to tell them when to go ahead.

At the time, police officers wore woolen uniforms with capes, even in the hottest months of summer. One of the traffic cops at the intersection, whose name is not recorded, noticed a nail protruding from a construction site near 5 Great Newport Street and hung his cape on it. His fellow officers followed suit as temperatures climbed. When the construction work ended sometime in the 1930s and the nail was removed, the officers petitioned the building's owners to install a permanent fixture.

Today, the ornate iron hook remains drilled into the wall, along with a metal plate reading "Metropolitan Police." It's unclear whether those who are not police officers can drape their jackets on it.

The unique piece of street furniture has outlived the need for traffic-directing bobbies, but it remains a beloved part of London's transportation history. Allegedly, the hook is one of the 20,000 points of interest to be memorized for The Knowledge, the infamously difficult test one must pass to become a London cab driver.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
5 Great Newport Street, London
NASA, Getty Images
Watch Apollo 11 Launch
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
NASA, Getty Images

Apollo 11 launched on July 16, 1969, on its way to the moon. In the video below, Mark Gray shows slow-motion footage of the launch (a Saturn V rocket) and explains in glorious detail what's going on from a technical perspective—the launch is very complex, and lots of stuff has to happen just right in order to get a safe launch. The video is mesmerizing, the narration is informative. Prepare to geek out about rockets! (Did you know the hold-down arms actually catch on fire after the rocket lifts off?)

Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch (HD) Camera E-8 from Spacecraft Films on Vimeo.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
5 Great Newport Street, London
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Utility Workers May Have Found One of Rome’s First Churches
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

The remains of what may have been one of Rome’s earliest Christian churches were accidentally discovered along the Tiber River during construction, The Local reports. The four-room structure, which could have been built as early as the 1st century CE, was unearthed by electrical technicians who were laying cables along the Ponte Milvio.

The newly discovered structure next to the river
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

No one is sure what to make of this “archaeological enigma shrouded in mystery,” in the words of Rome’s Archaeological Superintendency. Although there’s no definitive theory as of yet, experts have a few ideas.

The use of colorful African marble for the floors and walls has led archaeologists to believe that the building probably served a prestigious—or perhaps holy—function as the villa of a noble family or as a Christian place of worship. Its proximity to an early cemetery spawned the latter theory, since it's common for churches to have mausoleums attached to them. Several tombs were found in that cemetery, including one containing the intact skeleton of a Roman man.

Marble flooring
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

A tomb
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma1

The walls are made of brick, and the red, green, and beige marble had been imported from Sparta (Greece), Egypt, and present-day Tunisia, The Telegraph reports.

As The Local points out, it’s not all that unusual in Rome for archaeological discoveries to be made by unsuspecting people going about their day. Rome’s oldest aqueduct was found by Metro workers, and an ancient bath house and tombs were found during construction on a new church.

[h/t The Local]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios