Magellan Musings

We often come across nuggets of information which we find incredibly interesting or vaguely shocking.  Who knows if they are true or not but either way, they sound good. This page is dedicated to those little gems that come our way.  We cannot guarantee their veracity but they feel right!  We will be adding to this section on an ongoing basis.

Art and Design:

  • The wall tile patterns on London’s tube stations are all different – different colours and shapes – designed to aid illiterate passengers so they could tell which stops to disembark.
  • The circle and cross bar of the London Underground logo was designed in 1908 and is featured at every bus and train station.

Buildings and architecture:

  • There’s been a place of worship on the site of Southwark Cathedral for over 1,000 years.
  • The Shard in London is Western Europe’s tallest building.
  • The Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building.
  • Amiens Cathedral is the largest gothic cathedral of the medieval age – its nave is 42 m high – the tallest in the world.
  • London’s Old Bailey sits on the site of Old Newgate Gaol – underneath the 22 ton Figure of Justice.
  • Old Bailey is named after the street – it follows the line of the original bailey of the fortified walls.
  • The roof of the Lord Mayor’s Residence (Mansion House) is home to 30,000 bees.
  • The 1880 gothic Koln Cathedral is Germany’s most popular place of interest.  It’s twin towers were completed in 1880, it covers 8,000 sq m and plays host to 4,000 worshippers.
  • The Pentagon is the world’s largest office building at 65 m sq feet.
  • Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire has the longest nave and greatest overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe.


  • New York City was briefly America’s capital from 1789 to 1790.
  • In 1913, the Brandenburg Gate led visitors to Kaiser Wilhelm’ Palace in the Imperial Age.
  • New Orleans was founded in 1718 by the French who sold it to the United States in 1803.


  • Jet is made from the remains of the monkey puzzle tree and there are numerous seams on the coast near Whitby.  It was made famous by Queen Victoria.
  • Eau de Cologne was used to offset the stench from 18th century sewerless cities and dirty water which discouraged abolitions.  England’s Queen Victoria was a keen customer.


  • The Stars and Stripes US Anthem was not American in origin:  it was an old English ditty.
  • In September 2010, the world land speed record for a lawn mower was set at 96 mph!
  • Winchester Cathedral possesses the only diatonic ring of 14 church bells in the world.
  • Dynamite was invented by Alfred Nobel – on his death, he left the legacy for the Nobel Peace Prize.


  • Berlin introduced the first electric tram in 1881 – the world’s first tram network – and the city still has the largest system.
  • The Tube was the world’s first subterranean railway – built to ease traffic congestion.  The stations were built around the centre of the city and were needed to bring in labourers and workers into the city to work – and to alleviate slums.
  • The first train arrived at Farringdon on 9th January1863 – the original terminus – outside the city of London.
  • Farringdon is built on the bed of the old River Fleet and regularly floods, even today.
  • The Bastille “Bubble” cable car, which started operating in 1934, is the oldest urban cable car in the world.


  • There are more canals in Marais Poitevin, Poitou-Charentes than there are in Venice.

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