From Ride Leader Werner Wiethege
Riding the Monopoly Board
Ride Report with extensive route notes by ride leader Werner
The forecast and the real weather were much better than on Easter Monday, so the second bank holiday healthy ride of the year promised to be less of a health risk. Fourteen riders turned up, looked at the bike racks and ticked off the first item on the list. South London is underrepresented on the board, so only one road to go to.
Old Kent Road
We didn’t compensate for having only one road in SE by riding more of it and did the bare minimum, shared pavement to get around Bricklayers Arms and then immediately into Aberdour St, over Tower Bridge Road and past the former Jam Factory to another site which isn’t used nowadays for what it was known for.
Marshalsea (first prison)
The prison isn’t named on the board so it’s the ride leader’s privilege to pick one and add a bit more Southwark. The former debtors’ prison is best known now for its appearance in Dickens’s novels, esp. in Little Dorrit, but most riders hadn’t known where it was.
Tate Modern (Electric Company)
Another wildcard on the board and another chance to include a local site, one everybody knew. EDF reduced their footprint to make space for the extension but AFAIK has still some equipment in the building, so definitely qualified for the ride. That was all in Southwark so over Blackfriars Bridge, ignoring another prison (Bridewell), and regrouping after a split.
A second theme of the ride developed, buildings which retired after their first career. We waited outside the Express Building for the others to find us. A quiet day but riding through the alleys and courtyards behind is still more fun than just Fleet St and Aldwych. So past Dr Johnson’s Hodge and Lincoln’s Inn Fields towards Covent Garden.
The building which justified its place on the board has also seen a change of use although not completely. Accommodation is still available but upstairs instead of downstairs and much more expensive. OTOH, checkout may be easier: https://www.cibsejournal.com/case-studies/fresh-start-the-transformation-of-bow-street-police-station-into-a-luxury-hotel/ No collisions with tourists, a risk again around Covent Garden after some Covid years.
Not the fun part of the Strand outside Somerset House which we enjoyed on the BBC ride but the stretch between Waterloo Bridge and Trafalgar Square which hasn’t been pedestrianised. It should have been easier to get through on a bank holiday morning but Trafalgar Square was jammed. So slightly off-road and down Craven St.
Still staying away from Trafalgar Sq so via Great Scotland Yard to Whitehall It was pretty much ours, no traffic coming down made it very easy to turn right at the bottom. We definitely didn’t look left on the way there, it would have been highly inappropriate to admire the remains of Banqueting House a few days before the coronation of a King Charles. Whereas the last building on the right can’t be ignored.
1 Gt George St (Income tax)
Of course, you have to expect demands for Income Tax when you ride Monopoly, HMRC is waiting in GOGGS (Government Offices Great George St) https://social.shorthand.com/hmtreasury/32EEikq966/the-treasury-building-a-surprising-history A bit of CS3 and then up Horse Guards Road where the preparation for next Saturday are in full swing. But nobody queueing yet to get a good seat. The Mall was closed on the left and we had twice avoided it so right and through Admiralty Arch to the next location
was mainly cleared by now and we could turn left into Cockspur St where we got stuck again and found out the reason why things had moved slowly along the Strand.
Just Stop Oil were slowly ambling in front of us. At least they kept the police entertained and we could overtake them without having our repair kits checked for superglue. It would have been embarrassing not to have been able to go faster than a slow walk protest https://www.imago-images.com/offers/547579/News/Aktuelles%20Zeitgeschehen/Gro%C3%9Fbritannien,-Just%20Stop%20Oil%20Protest%20in%20London?db=stock&type=aktuelle%20events. Up St James’s St and filtering nicely to the right for the right turn at the top.
One of the more difficult roads on the board, not many ways to get to it on pleasant roads and the next stop forces the direction it’s ridden.
The shortest street (dead-end since Regent St cut it off) on the board, one of the two least known and it looks very overpriced compared to Bow St and Marlborough St but there is a link between them, the law was represented there. Bertie Wooster got ‘gripped by the arm of the law on boat-race night not so many years ago and hauled off to Vine Street police station’. Just around Piccadilly Circus is
but we didn’t stay long, the first right into Soho, over Shaftesbury Avenue, a brief second glimpse of Piccadilly on our right and then
The other street on the board people may find difficult to place in real London but much busier than Vine St. The name is less familiar as it’s more a link than a destination, e.g. to
The main reason for a 9:00 start, get over it before the tourists swarm. And they are back. In numbers. Saturday’s route check, at 12:30 on the hottest day of the year so far, was a challenge even for a single rider, with a group it would have meant walking. Up an also rideable Wardour St and then to one of the best known streets.
It was safe to assume that everybody had been to Oxford St and didn’t need lots more of it, so just left into it and immediately another left to get away and onwards to the next two, both abbreviated on the board.
The signs say Gt Marlborough St but the Great was lost, maybe to save space. Also lost is the Magistrates’ Court, like Bow St turned into a hotel with many stars but you wonder whether the court could claim even more stars and a more impressive visitor list. It served Oscar Wilde, Christine Keeler, John Lennon, Mick Jagger and a few others. A more complete cast list can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marlborough_Street_Magistrates_Court Straight over Regent St into the seriously posh navy blue area.
The board is non-ageist, the A-Z has New and Old Bond Streets, we crossed the former to another non-street.
It’s the name of that area, part of the Grosvenor estate, not a specific street. Perfect timing for the ride, Mayfair got its name from the annual May Fair which started 1 May and lasted 16 days. Just a few centuries too late, it was too popular with apprentices and turned into ‘a notorious Assembly of dangerous, loose, leud and debauch’d People, of both sexes’. https://www.history.ac.uk/sites/default/files/file-uploads/2020-07/Econ_Life_for_web.pdf https://www.mayfairldn.com/stories/the-history-of-mayfair/ Grosvenor Square had a sign for a coronation garden party, let’s hope it attracts a better class of people than previous Mayfair parties. We completed the most expensive corner by crossing
and continued through Hyde Park to
Fortunately plans in the 80s to close it down didn’t go through and it’s still a working station.
London’s parks are free, maybe because you can’t build hotels in them is the reason they don’t feature on the board. After Hyde Park we visited another Royal Park, this time for refreshments in Regent’s Park. Not as hot as on Saturday so ample space to sit together and fast service for coffee and food. Refreshed – but not enough to race the many more ambitious riders looping the Outer Circle – we left Regent’s Park. It became less touristy with the HS2 construction on our side to the way to a station which trains already reach.
Lots of cabbies hoping to pick up bank holiday travellers blocked the road but we crossed
to get into quieter areas. One more utility left
New River Head (Waterworks)
and not the first time a healthy ride has stopped in Roseberry Avenue to look at the New River Head. Thames Water still has a strong presence in the area, so we could check off the waterworks. Streets and square names are linked to the New River. We crossed
and went to prison
Fewer famous novels about HMP Pentonville but it’s still in use. We were a bit puzzled by a sign at the entrance ‘Closed on Sundays’, isn’t it supposed to be closed every day? Time for a group photo (not mugshots) for Bruce’s album and to say goodbye at the prison gate to one rider who stayed behind.
Being in Islington we took the opportunity to look at some lovely squares, most of those on this page: https://www.londongardenstrust.org/features/Islington2019.htm (The blue caps on the spires have been removed since the photo of Cloudesley Square was taken.) A bit of Liverpool Road and a view of
tube station before giving
its opportunity by turning left instead of right. And we were lucky, a serendipitous discovery. Nobody mentioned having been to the Royal Fever Hospital before. Ok, it had been vacant since the 1980s https://www.locallocalhistory.co.uk/islington/royalfree/ and has been redeveloped as a residential square: https://www.pollardthomasedwards.co.uk/projects/index/old-royal-free-square/ Over the canal and through the City for the last three locations
closer to home
Liverpool St Station
There are versions of the board with adjusted prices, the hotel in Liverpool Street Station certainly has gone up significantly in rates in the last 30 years. Yesterday’s route check was more complicated but there were only a few open stalls in Petticoat Lane today. The final road
is a bit of an outlier in the East. Across it and down to CS3 before trying a different approach to the last item on our list, we tunnelled
Fenchurch St Station
before turning round to look at the front. Surprisingly some riders hadn’t been through French Ordinary Court although quite a few healthy rides have used it. This page has more details and explains the origins of the unusual name: https://www.ianvisits.co.uk/articles/londons-alleys-french-ordinary-court-ec3-28519/ Ordinaries were places serving fixed-price meals.
Some more group photos after completion of the board and just down to the Monument as a taster for a forthcoming Wren 300 ride (years not km (unless the Sheldonian is included)). Back at the needle at 13:45. Thanks to Simon for his backmarking and keeping the peloton tight and ready to go so that we managed to cross most junctions as a block.
Download the report as a Word file
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