This splendid object is over the road from the entrance to Postman’s Park in St Martin’s le Grand.
It’s a reminder of a time when the police didn’t have radios and the public didn’t have mobile phones (or, for most people, telephones in their houses).
The red light at the top would be illuminated when the station wanted the officer on the beat to call in for instructions. The ‘phone would be in the top compartment of the box and a first-aid kit was in the space below.
There are, apparently, eight such “call posts” still in the City of London, and several more scattered around central London (including one at Piccadilly Circus), although none of them are operational. Those for the City of London Police are painted light blue and those for the Metropolitan Police are dark blue – even when it comes to street furniture, the City and the Met need to keep their fine distinctions.
Directly across the road by the Tower of London, hard by the tube station is the Tower Hill Memorial to sailors of the merchant navy and fishing fleets who were killed in the two World Wars and who have ‘no grave but the sea’. (See Google maps.)
There are over 35,000 names inscribed in the Memorial’s two sections; just under 12,000 from the First World War and around 24,000 from the Second. Although overall British casualties in WW2 were substantially lower than in the Great War, the losses of the merchant marine show the dependence of Britain on imported goods and materiel during the conflict, as well as the ferocity of the German U-boat and naval assault on British shipping. Both sides knew that Britain could be defeated if starved of food and resources.
Despite its location, the memorial is not visited much by tourists; walk through the metal gates and you will be in a peaceful enclosed space that seems insulated from much of the traffic and city noise. The original memorial, opened in 1928 by Queen Mary, is quite dark and enclosed, taking the form of a vaulted corridor with 12 bronze plaques on which are listed the names of the dead.
Continue reading “The Tower Hill memorial”