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Frequently Googled questions: we answer the web’s London queries

Posted at 4:00 pm, July 30, 2012 in Fun London
Does London...

We love peeking into the world’s collective consciousness using the power of Google Suggest. Here’s what the world most wants to know about London, apparently – and we’ve got all the answers.

1) Are there pandas at London Zoo?

Are there pandas at London Zoo? No.

Photo: Kevin Dooley.

No, there aren’t any pandas at London Zoo. You can see what exhibits are at the zoo here, or even read their entire stock list of animals.

2) Does London have a beach?

Does London have a beach? No.

Photo: Rev Stan.

No, London doesn’t really have a beach. But when the tide is low, the sandy banks of the Thames emerge for a few hours – although you won’t find Londoners flocking to claim a spot with towels, buckets and spades. (These tide timetables will help if you’re planning some beachcombing.) Alternatively, sand fans can head to the man-made, sea-free Camden Beach at the Roundhouse.

3) Does London have a hosepipe ban?

Does London have a hosepipe ban? No.  (c) lloydthompson

No, London no longer has a hosepipe ban! Thames Water’s ads claimed ‘NONE OF US CAN MAKE IT RAIN’ -but apparently, someone actually could. Bad news for barbecues, but the South East’s reservoirs are now positively brimful and the restrictions have been lifted.

4) Does London Euston have lockers?

Does London Euston train station have lockers? No.

Photo (not of Euston!): faungg.

No. For security reasons, there are no public locker facilities at any London train stations. But all the major terminals (including London Euston) have left luggage offices operated by the Excess Baggage Company – it’s £8.50 per item for 24 hours.

5) Does London have a flag?

Does London have a flag? No.

No – unlike, say, New York City or Paris, London doesn’t have a flag. We should probably get around to designing one. But the ‘City of London’, the small financial district, does, and here it is:

City of London's flag.


6) Does London need a second barrier?

Flooding around the Millenium Dome.

Not yet, says the Environment Agency.  The Thames Barrier is built to withstand storm surges so bad, they only come every 1,000 years. Sea levels are rising more slowly than the engineers had expected, and climate scientists no longer think global warming will make the North Sea stormier, so the existing barrier should keep our feet dry for the next few decades at least. Water result.

7) Does London Bridge open?

Does London Bridge open? No.

No – but then again, London Bridge is the boring concrete bridge pictured above. You’re probably thinking of the rather more famous Tower Bridge, which does indeed open! If you’re visiting London and want to see it in action, there’s a timetable for bridge openings here. And here’s what it looks like:

Tower Bridge opening.

8) Does London have a county?

Does London have a county? No, not really.

Not really. There are ‘ceremonial counties‘, which are just ways of describing various geographic areas, and Greater London is indeed a ceremonial county all of its own. But when it comes to political administration, London isn’t part of the county system. ‘Greater London’ is too big to be county-sized and instead operates as a ‘region‘ (like, for example, “South-West England”) run by the Greater London Authority, while the 32 ‘boroughs’ (which only exist in London) are more county-like – but aren’t actually counties. If you’re wondering what to put in the ‘county’ field of an address form, “London” or your council (e.g: “Lewisham”) would do fine – all the Royal Mail looks at is the street address and postcode, anyway.

9) Does London Underground make a profit?

Does London Underground make a profit? No.

No, London Underground doesn’t make a profit. Last year revenues were £1.8bn but expenditures were £2.3bn, resulting in a £495m loss. To make it up, Transport for London (who run the Underground) would need to have raised an extra £63 from everyone that lives in Greater London. Fortunately, TfL also receives funding from the government.

10) Does London have skyscrapers?

Does London have skyscrapers? Yes!

Photo: James Attree.

Yes, London does have skyscrapers! We might not scrape the sky as forcefully or frequently as Hong Kong or Manhattan, but we’ve got our share of vertiginous buildings. For starters, meet The Shard – recently completed but not yet used, it’s the tallest building in western Europe at 1,013ft high. Other tall buildings are clustered around the financial districts of the City and Canary Wharf – this handy list points some of them out. Guy Parsons

Want us to answer any other questions? Tweet us at @TimeOutLondon.

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