What stories does London hold?

Across the ages, London has produced and inspired countless stories. Explore some of the stories - from the bizarre to the inspiring - that artist Julia Allum drew on to create this stunning artwork for our Poster Prize 2019: London Stories exhibition.

By London Transport Museum

London Stories (2018) by Julia AllumLondon Transport Museum

The Ravens of the Tower of London

It is said that the kingdom and the Tower of London will fall if the six resident ravens leave.


Once you start looking, pineapples can be seen everywhere in London. You can find them everywhere from railings, to pubs, and even adorning the tower of St Paul's Cathedral. But why are Londoners so obsessed with pineapples?

The bus that jumped Tower Bridge

On 30 December 1952, Albert Gunter was driving the number 78 bus over Tower Bridge towards Shoreditch when the bridge - to his surprise - began opening. He quickly slammed his foot down on the accelerator and managed to jump the gap successfully, escaping with just a broken leg.

Animals in central London?

Unless you're visiting the zoo or taking care of a pet, animals are a rare sight to see around London. However, in 2006, a female bottlenose whale swam up the Thames. And every year, Freemen of the City of London exercise their right to herd sheep over London Bridge.

The Polar Bear and Giraffe of the Tower of London

From the 1200s to 1835, the Tower of London housed a menagerie of exotic wild animals including a polar bear which was chained, but allowed to swim in the Thames.

Jimi Hendrix's parakeets?

Urban myth says that the parakeets that have colonised London's green spaces can actually be traced back to Jimi Hendrix! Rumour has it that he released a pair in Carnaby Street in the 1960s.

The home of detective fiction?

221B Baker Street is also known as the home of Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective: Sherlock Holmes.

Abbey Road Crossing

You may recognise the Abbey Road zebra crossing in North London from its iconic appearance on a Beatles album cover. The crossing was given Grade II listed status in 2010 - despite the fact that the original zebra crossing was moved several metres over 30 years ago.

The Bronze lions along Victoria Embankment

Bronze lion heads with mooring rings in their mouths line the Victoria Embankment. It is said that if the lions drink the water from the Thames, London will flood.

Sphinx and Cleopatra's Needle

An Egyptian obelisk brought to London from Heliopolis, Alexandria, was erected on Victoria Embankment in 1878. The Needle was granted to the UK by Muhammad Ali, ruler of Egypt and Sudan, in 1819. It is flanked by a pair of sphinxes, and a time capsule is buried underneath.

HMS Belfast

HMS Belfast is one of the largest and most powerful light cruisers ever built. It played a crucial role in protecting the arctic convoys in the Second World War. Preserved by the Imperial War Museum, it was brought to London and opened to the public in 1971.

Stories to be told

The postbox is one of London's most iconic sights and is now a way for people to share their own stories far and wide. The first boxes were trialled in the Channel Islands before being approved for use in London in 1856. However, they didn't get their red colour until 1874.

Credits: Story

Illustration created by Julia Allum for London Transport Museum

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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