Stories of the Streets 

By Shraiyash Uniyal

Known all over the world by football lovers, the Twin Towers of the beautiful game was the point of recognition in the Wembley skyline as the old home of English football cup finals and important international games. Contrary to common belief, Wembley isn’t actually the original home of the game in the UK. It was back in 1863 that The Football Association was established, in Battersea, South London. Who knew? London is such an old city that has spread so much that urban legends and historical stories have been buried as layers were built over them. This means that much of what we think is true may well not be, in fact, it may be that certain myths and legends are in fact apocryphal or even not true. Whereas some stories never made it up to ground level. Find out more fascinating facts about London you may well not know Here in Stories of the Streets.  

Yes, it is true. The original football stadium of Wembley was not built until 1923 and came to be recognised as one of the most iconic symbols of English football in general. But the English Football League of England and Wales was founded much earlier in 1888.

London city is indeed fascinating and funny at the same time, however, some seemingly insignificant events have unknowingly carved London’s history in so many ways including the names we often don’t think twice about.

Take London’s Shoreditch as an example. Today it is known for its hip nightlife, beardy boys and trendy girls about on night outs, Shoreditch was initially referred to as ‘Sewers Ditch’; ironic isn’t it? Named after a stream no longer there, but if you think that the area is only recently known for its hipster clientele, think again.

Back in the 18th Century, it was Queen Victoria’s son Prince Edward who started the trend of wearing frock coats, drawing its hem at waist level to show the elite embroidery sewn to the side of their trousers. This fashion trend of Hip Adornment was then picked up by frivolous young boys of noble families. Hence, they were mocked and ridiculed by others as ‘Those Bloody Hipsters’. Isn’t it hysterical to accept that in many ways this episode ignited the hipster in the area a hundred odd years before now?

It’s quite well known that a cockney is someone born within the sounds of the Bow Church Bells, i.e. if the sound of the church bells could be heard when born, then you were a cockney. However, maybe you don’t know, where Cockney got its name from. It is said that the Columbian workers that sailed to London bought with them coco-leaves.

Chewing these leaves helped them keep awake through the journey and on arriving they bartered these leaves for food. After having a few leaves Londoners succumbed to a bouncing knee syndrome which the locals then called ‘coco-knees’.  And that’s how the word Cockney was coined. 

To unearth many such interesting tales from the lanes of London, find the new publication by Vic Lee called ‘London – A City Of Amazing Streets & Tall Tales’. The book entails many interesting anecdotes and fascinating facts about the city of London that portrays the essence of the place over a period of time. 

The idea to curate a book celebrating the ethos of London stuck in Lee’s mind whilst he was once enjoying his cup of coffee at his local café. Gazing through the window, he saw the hustle-bustle of the city which courted his interest. Like a true artist, Lee decided to explore and share the unheard, hidden stories from these streets. These lanes, in his then native Dulwich Southeast London for Lee, were beyond high streets and mere gangways. They were and still are, the treasure of memories of so many people from around the globe that call London their home. 

The book is a beautiful collection of stories and incidents from various parts of London. Harmless anecdotes and amusing tittle-tattles about the city are woven together and presented in a book with some amazing illustrations, artistic use of graphics and doodles. Lee has brought the whole city to life in just 2 basic colours. His vibrant illustrations, graphic arts and pictorial depictions in black & white have creatively enhanced the fables of the streets. Each story is accompanied by some marvellous images, words and strokes creating an art masterpiece in the form of a book. Every page successfully transports the reader to a part of London they have never experienced before.

Talking about experiences, do you know the first market where Londoners experienced the joy of shopping under an electric street light? As typically lethargic name-keeping yet funny as it sounds, Electric Avenue was named so as it was the very first area to have electric lights illuminating its streets.

With the Thames passing in the middle of the city that is surrounded by beautiful architectural landscape and is filled with people from all walks of life, London’s every street indeed has a story to tell! 

London – A City Of Amazing Streets & Tall Tales will be inaugurated on the 18th of October this year by Frances Lincoln. Vic Lee is an artist, illustrator, storyteller, wordsmith and mapmaker. Vic earned a degree in graphic design from Nottingham Trent and spent 14 years in graphics before beginning his art career in 2011 with limited edition prints of London streets. These hand-illustrated prints featuring buildings and typography sold out quickly, with purchasers becoming clients To find out more please visit Waterstones Here 

To buy Art from Vic please visit Here

If you enjoyed reading Stories Of The Streets then why not read Burning Wood Here.

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