“I’m standing on my Monopoly board that means I’m on top of my game” – Eminem
We thought it would be the perfect chance to show what London has to offer, famous and otherwise…….and have some fun! We also decided to do square by square in the correct order, unfortunately, upon closer inspection of the said board game, we found that the creator had never thought that anyone would be stupid to follow his route, let alone in order! Oh well…
Go – When we thought about where to start, our thoughts immediately turned to a place that would be the focus of London in 2012… The Olympic Stadium, Stratford. What better place to choose as Go, when millions of people will be GO-ing to the stadium! With security tight and access limited, a walk by the canal was a welcome start to the day.
Old Kent Road – When the Monopoly board game was first developed, the Old Kent Road was a major road of London (In Roman times the road itself ran from Dover to Holyhead). Unfortunately, it is probably the most difficult place to start off with! Also, when researching places of interest on the road, its saying something when a Google search comes up with a museum that closed over 4 years ago! With that in mind, we thought a picture of the road sign would suffice, especially as the main points of interest are now Tesco, Carpet Rite and other retail outlets…
Community Chest – What could be more community minded than a charity shop! Our hopes of finding the original Monopoly game within the British Heart Foundation outlet on the Old Kent Road were dashed, as we realised that it only dealt in furniture and electrical goods. However, Si had his eye on a decent three piece suite though!
Whitechapel – As the early morning subtle heat gave way to mid morning sun, we made our way to the bustle of Whitechapel Road, with our target being the Blind Beggar pub, made ‘in-famous’ by its connection to the murky world of the Kray twins (NB Murder happened on 9/03/66 in the saloon bar). As it was a good half an hour before 11am, we couldn’t stop for a swift half and so we had to make do with a photo outside. This was when an engineer working on the Crossrail project suggested we snap a picture where the murder victim lay, complete with a chalk outline.
Income Tax – As the old saying goes, there are two certainities in this life: Death and taxes! Therefore, we paid a visit to the HMRC offices on Euston Road. We decided to sneak away fairly sharpish before Her Majesty decided that we owed anything more!
Kings Cross Station – As we are not the biggest fans of a particular boy wizard we skipped platform 9 ¾, and decided to check out the latest architecture only recently opened. The new design is fairly impressive, with the natural light helping to negate the gloom that the old station was constantly bathed in.
Angel Islington – We then beat a hasty retreat to the Underground to emerge into the sunlight at Angel. Our target? The Angel, which used to be an inn near the toll gate which serviced the Great North Road. Nowadays, it is a branch of a well known bank, which is rather apt considering how we seem to give the banks our hard earned cash like the toll booth in ye olden times!
Chance – What better way of taking a chance would be there be, than placing a bet at the bookies on a horse that goes by the name of ‘Hector’s Chance’ at 7.40 running at Kempton?? With Kieren Fallon on board and joint favourite our hopes were high. It finished 9th out of 12!
Euston Road – Returning to Kings Cross Station again we climbed the steps of this main commuter hub, on to Euston Road and down to one of the most impressive buildings in London. We owe Sir John Betjeman a great deal of thanks for the time and effort he put into saving and restoring St Pancras station. Without him, this great structure could have been lost forever (when it was originally dismantled, many of the bricks were thrown into Bow lock!)
Pentonville Road – Passing Kings Cross Station again, we popped up to Pentonville Road to take a snap of the Scala, a venue that can boast that it played host to the one and only UK concert by Iggy & the Stooges back in 1972 (they were in London to record their album Raw Power)!
Jail – Back on the tube we headed up to Caledonian Road to complete the final piece of the 1st side of the Monopoly board. Outside HMP Pentonville we didn’t want to draw too much attention to ourselves while taking a few photos of the prison, we took a few photos of the first sign we chanced upon. We certainly weren’t in the mood to be detained at the pleasure of her Majesty! With this in mind, we scarpered.
Pall Mall – This place wasn’t difficult to find, all you needed to do was walk in the opposite direction that the majority of the tourists were walking. We walked past the statues dedicated to both the Crimea war effort and Florence Nightingale and took a right onto Pall Mall, where we found the gleaming sign of ‘104’ The Reform Club, which is where the fictitious character, Phileas Fogg, accepted the bet to travel around the world within 80 days. Unfortunately, both Si and myself had left our membership cards at home so we pressed on!
Electric Company – We jumped back onto the tube at Piccadilly (for what seemed the umpteenth time!) and motored along to the Apple Store at Covent Garden, the world’s largest Apple emporium (for now at least). What could represent an ‘Electric Company’ better than Apple, they make electric products and their designs are definitely ‘Electric!’. With time ticking away, there was no time for browsing. A quick photo opportunity and we were away!
Whitehall – After emerging from Charing Cross, we headed down Whitehall, past Admirality House, Horse Guards Headquarters and the Women of World War 2 statue until we reached the statue of the great Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery (or simply ‘Monty’ as he was affectionately known). Monty was no stranger to a challenge such as his desert antics in El Alamein, but what would he of thought of the Monopoly tour?
Northumberland Avenue – On researching this street, we found out that Thomas Edison’s British Headquarters had been situated there. However, after traversing the street, we could find no immediate clues as to which building could lay claim to this fact. Therefore, we had to make do with a photo of the street sign complete with a pair of cute buttocks!
Marylebone Station – Luckily for us, the journey from Charing Cross to Marylebone Station could be completed with the use of just one tube line (the Bakerloo). We reached London’s smallest railway station at 2.41pm (nearly 6 and a half hours since we had started!). It is also the newest train station in London, having been opened in 1899. This station was used as a location by the Beatles when they were filming ‘A Hard Day’s Night’.
Bow Street – After yet another visit to Covent Garden, we walked over to Bow Street, most famous for its connection with the formation of London’s first professional police force, the Bow Street Runners. Henry Fielding conceived the formation of the Runners at No. 4 Bow Street, which had also acted as the Magistrates Court.
Community Chest – As we were so close to Covent Garden, it only seemed right that we would make a donation to the most deserving and possibly least annoying, street entertainer. This proved to be a bridge too far, and so we chose perhaps the worst Mr Bean impersonator we could find. He could at least console himself with the fact he probably earnt more in a day than either myself or Si!
(Great) Marlborough Street – As it was approaching 4.00pm fast and rush hour was coming into view, we beat a path to the faux Tudor exterior of the store Liberty (the store was constructed in 1924 using timbers of two ships: HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan).
The Strand – What could be more British than ‘What the Butler Saw’ an old school farce set during the 1960’s at the Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand. The theatre itself originally opened in 1870 and was connected to the ‘theatrical genre of variety entertainment’. And so, with a theatrical flourish we moved on!
Chance – By a stroke of luck, there was an amusement arcade just along the theatre. They also had a Monopoly slot machine. Bonus! Unfortunately, the staff got rather irate when Si took out his camera and so, the only picture we have is a rather poor one of me losing my £1 fairly quickly.
Fleet Street – We hopped onto a No.76 bus down the Strand, which would deliver us to the door of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. At last, an alcoholic beverage would soon be passing our lips. Not in any old pub mind, but one of the oldest in London. There has been a pub on this site since 1538. The pub in its current guise was rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of London in 1666. When you walk into the gloom, you do feel that you are stepping back in time. A pint of your finest ale please bar keep!
Trafalgar Square – After our quick pint stop, we felt suitably refreshed and proceeded onto our next location: Trafalgar Square. We hauled ourselves onto No.11 bus and enjoyed a quick sit down while we sped back up the Strand past Temple and the Royal Courts of Justice (while day 2,500 of the Leveson Inquiry continued inside….) Our target? The Fourth Plinth, which was home to Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset’s sculpture: Powerless Structures, or in other words a small boy on a rocking horse. With a quick time check 5.40pm we had to move on..
Fenchurch Street Station – With a tube ride to Tower Hill complete, we headed out of the station and took in a quick view of the Tower of London, a pleasure as always. As we battled with the City workers making their way home, we made it to Fenchurch Street, the only main London Termani that doesn’t have a direct link to the London Underground. Along with Marylebone Station, it is also one of the smallest in London.
Leicester Square – We originally planned a photo with the Charlie Chaplin statue in the park. However, we hadn’t factored in the work that had gone into refurbishing the Square and our primary target had been moved. So instead enjoy a photo with another small comedian, against a backdrop of the famous Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square.
Coventry Street – With time passing us by, we were fortunate that Coventry Street is the main link between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. As is often the case here, the street was teeming with tourists enjoying the sights. It is said that up to 150,000 people use this street at the weekend.
Water Works – Excuse the pun, but as Piccadilly Circus was just around the corner, it seemed only right that we used the toilets situated within the station itself!
Piccadilly – Generally, we’re a great fan of walking at thedepartureboard, however, we were finding it increasingly difficult to hit the streets as quickly as we were. Even so, we decided to walk the short distance down to Piccadilly to take in the views of the Ritz. One of the most decadent hotel and restaurant in the area. Unfortunately, there was no sign of Si getting his wallet out for afternoon tea and so we thought it best to move onto an area of lesser means.
Go to Jail – Where’s a policeman, when you need one? We had to make do with a nearby police van instead. Although with our blisters and tired legs a night in the cells would have been a welcome rest!
Regent Street – With no time to lose (especially if we wanted to complete our challenge before midnight!), we raced onto Hamleys of Regent Street, the Worlds largest toy shop. Our goal? To have a picture taken with a copy of Monopoly of course!
Oxford Street – We popped up via one of the side streets onto the hustle and bustle of Europe’s busiest shopping street, all still looking decorative in its jubilee bunting. Alas no time for window browsing!
Community Chest – With no Big Issue seller in sight (New Bond Street appears to have a gap in the market in this respect), we had to think on our feet. Luckily Simon was still fairly awake and thought we should use my emergency jaffa cake (don’t leave home without one!) and charitably feed the scraggy pigeon. After a bit of coaxing, the pigeon was more than happy to oblige us with a photo opportunity.
Bond Street – Luckily, the pigeon episode took place next to Churchill and Roosevelt statue ‘Allies’ while they were deep in conversation (they didn’t seem even slightly bemused by our arrival!). They were more than happy to involve Simon in their conversation, and better still, they didn’t mind the odd photo being taken of the moment. With our thanks ringing in their ears, we set off for the hardest part of our tour….
Liverpool Street Station – With the time approaching 7.35, we caught the central line all the way back to Liverpool Street station. Even though the TFL website confirmed this journey would take us 13 minutes, it meant that there was going to be a further 13+ minutes to come back to West London to finish off our journey. So, to save as much time as possible, Simon headed out of the station for the photo finish, while I aimed for WH Smith…..
Chance – Where I purchased a Monopoly themed Lottery scratchcard for the princely sum of £5, before we caught the tube to head back out West. (I didn’t win!)
Park Lane – Approximately 16 minutes later, we were back in West London (I will be having a word with the Parker Brothers about the design of the board!) hunting down the final pieces of our jigsaw. Knowing we were so close, we left Marble Arch station with renewed vigour. Fortunately, one of London’s most expensive roads, was just a short stroll away and so we hobbled onwards to a date with destiny (or, to put it another way, the road sign!)
Super Tax – Now, whatever side of the fence you sit on when it comes down to the congestion charge, it is still a tax on cars. The tax was brought in by Ken Livingstone when he was London Mayor to try and do something about the amount of cars using the streets of London on a daily basis. Therefore, it felt rather apt to include this sign in respect to a super tax, especially when you take into account the fact that London is the only city in the UK to impose it!
Mayfair – The time was now 8.10pm and we were closing on a full 12 hours. With the end in sight, we walked down Grosvenor Square, past the American Embassy and onto South Audley Street, which, at this point, felt like the LONGEST road in the world! Our goal was to reach Shepherd Market; a place that city workers now congregate for an after work pint, but before this, it was known as the area that the annual May Fair took place from the years of 1686 to 1764.
And so, after 12 and a quarter hours since we’d started our tour, it was over! I can’t say it didn’t hurt but it was definitely worth it! We hope you enjoy the fruits of our labour as much as we enjoyed doing it. Without the sore feet of course!
We would love to hear if anyone else has attempted the Monopoly Board tour? Or even the pub crawl version!