The Curious Policeman’s Coat Hook
If you’re really concentrating on your surroundings (and know where to look) along Great Newport Street then you’ll spot one of London’s most curious relics…
The story goes that in the 1930s the junction of Great Newman Street, St Martin’s Lane, Cranbourn Street, Garrick Street and Long Acre was a busy spot and traffic was a nightmare. Londoners were still not ready to trust traffic lights yet (the first in Parliament Square had blown up in 1869!) so Policemen on the beat were posted here to direct the traffic.
Metropolitan Police uniform at the time included a heavy woollen cloak, not ideal when it’s a sunny day in London, so the story goes that they relieved themselves of the cloak on a protruding nail during the building work one what’s now the site of ‘The White Space’ events venue.
When the building was completed however, the Met missed their handy hook and requested the owners to install something similar. I don’t think anyone could have hoped for the masterpiece that they got…
So go out for a hunt for it the next time you’re in the West End, or even test a black cabbie next time you’re in one (it’s supposedly one of the trick sites they’re meant to know!)
For more details about the hook and its authenticity, you can read this excellent post from Ian Visits. It seems it may have the whiff of an urban myth about it, but it’s still a fabulous hidden detail to spot!
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