I Want a Picture-Perfect White Christmas in London
In December our thoughts turn to Christmas. We think about our family, friends, Christmas cards, food (lots of it!) and presents – will Santa pass by this year? Also, just as important, the reason for Christmas: the birth of Jesus. But what we also think about is the weather – will it snow? This question set me thinking – why do we feel Christmas isn’t really Christmas if it doesn’t snow?
The Black Sailors of Georgian London
Inspired by the new exhibition “Black Greenwich Pensioners” at the Old Royal Naval College (which at the time of writing I have yet to visit), my mind recently turned to Britain’s Black seafaring past, particularly to the time Britain was most actively involved in the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the enslavement of Africans, a time which loosely coincides with what we refer to as the Georgian age (1714-1837).
Guiding Teenagers Around London
Blue Badge Tourist Guides conduct many different types of tours, from individual families to large groups, and each type requires different skills to be successful. Here, Olga Romana shares her experiences of guiding student groups.
I have worked with students my whole life!
Public Walking & Virtual Tours By London’s Blue Badge Tourist Guides
In addition to offering customized private tours, many London Blue Badge Tourist Guides also conduct regular walking tours and virtual tours for groups. Joining a group tour can be a fun and affordable way to take in the sights. For locals, a walk with a knowledgeable and passionate Blue Badge Tourist Guide can reveal fun facts and hidden gems you may not have been aware of.
Because I’m a Londoner: From Postman to Blue Badge Tourist Guide
This is part of a series of articles written by London Blue Badge Guides who used to be key workers in our capital city. First up is Neil Parker, who worked for 30 years as a postman before becoming a tourist guide.
I qualified as a London Blue Badge Guide in 2013 and now, as my mates from the post would say, ‘I’m paid to be me!’ At least I was until March 2020 when Covid-19 arrived. This got me thinking, what was life like for my mates in the post? So, after it reopened, I went to the pub to find out.
Introducing Millie the Blue Badger Cartoon
Hello Internet! I’m excited to introduce myself to you as one of the newly hatched Blue Badge Tourist Guides! While I’d already been guiding for a number of years, it was only in 2020 that I finally qualified as a Blue Badge Tourist Guide…
Posts in: British Military
The most emotionally powerful story I tell as a Blue Badge Tourist Guide is that of the Unknown Warrior – a single British soldier who through his anonymity came to represent hundreds of thousands of British soldiers killed during the First World War.Read more
At 11 a.m. on 11th November 1920, Britain marked the exact moment two years previously when the Armistice ended the fighting of the First World War. Standing on Whitehall, King George V stepped forward to unveil a new permanent Cenotaph and join the nation in two minutes of silent reflection. This moment started the tradition of the monarch leading the nation in remembrance from the Cenotaph, which is still with us 100 years later.Read more
On the afternoon of 7th September 1940, 350 German bomber planes attacked London, devastating the docks area and killing over 400 people. The day became known as Black Saturday and marked the beginning of a bombing campaign – the Blitz – that terrorised the city for eight months. Around 20,000 Londoners were killed. Eighty years on from Black Saturday, Blue Badge Tourist Guide Ruth Polling explores how remnants of that period can still be seen in London today.Read more
This summer marks 80 years since the Battle of Britain was fought in the skies over southern England. This was a fight for Britain’s survival against a Nazi Germany that had conquered much of western Europe in just a few short months. With the fall of France in June, Britain expected a German invasion, and one was indeed being planned under the codename Operation Sealion. However, for the invasion to be successful the Germans first needed to control the skies over Britain – they needed to destroy the Royal Air Force.Read more
On 8th May 2020, we will be commemorating the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (VE Day), when World War II came to a conclusion. The war had been long, exhausting and involved a rollercoaster of highs and lows, militarily, politically, economically, socially and emotionally. I have chosen six objects that can be seen in London to tell the tale of some of these events. Each is on display at either the Imperial War Museum (in Lambeth, south London and free to visit) or the Churchill War Rooms (in central London, £23 for a standard adult ticket).Read more
Westminster Abbey has over 3,000 burials and memorials within its precincts, commemorating royalty, poets, scientists, politicians, musicians and more. Booking a Westminster Abbey Tour with a Blue Badge Tourist Guide is a great way to learn about some fascinating features in the church that may go unnoticed by most visitors.Read more
Blue Badge Tourist Guides taking groups around London and throughout Britain at this time of year will often be asked by visitors about the red poppies which British people are wearing. These commemorate those who were killed in the First and Second World Wars and in other conflicts, the United Kingdom has been involved during the last century. The poppy appeal raises around £50 million every, the money going to service charities.Read more
Each year, millions of red poppy flowers are distributed across the United Kingdom leading up to Remembrance Sunday. Held on the second Sunday each November, Remembrance Sunday commemorates the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts. With that in mind, below are ten things you might not know about the red poppy flower.Read more
The newly opened National Army Museum in Chelsea area of London tells the story of the British army over the past 400 years. It is felt that many people know little about what the army does, let alone the soldier’s real experience now or in the past. The museum seeks to bridge the gap between the army and British society.Read more
The Imperial War Museum presents London's greatest collection of military arms and hardware. Famed for its tanks, aircraft, and weapons, the museum also reveals and reflects on the rich personal tales and first-hand accounts of British and Commonwealth involvement in 20th and 21st Century conflicts all around the world. Visit the Imperial War Museum with a Blue Badge Tourist Guide to discover their stories and touch the hand of military history.Read more
Elite soldiers from 5 infantry and 2 cavalry regiments have been guarding the Monarch since 1660. These 7 regiments are called the Household Division. The Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace and St James Palace is a time honoured symbol of the British monarchy and a great example of British pomp and ceremony.Read more
Who can forget the wonderful site of the 888,246 handmade ceramic poppies by the artist Paul Cummins filling the moat of the Tower of London and cascading down the walls and over the drawbridge area three years ago? Created to represent every British fatality during WWI and to remember the 100 years since the outbreak of war ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, grew daily, aided in a small way by many Blue Badge Tourist Guides who helped to plant some of them.Read more
Next to the Black Cultural Archives, the ceremonial unveiling of the African & Caribbean War Memorial took place in Windrush Square Brixton on 22 June – Windrush Day. The date and location of the memorial fixed one key historical event in peoples’ minds, the arrival of SS Empire Windrush in 1948 carrying 498 men and a few women from the Caribbean.Read more
The Cabinet War Rooms are the actual wartime headquarters of Winston Churchill, combined with a large museum devoted to his life. Housed in the basement of the magnificent Treasury building, the War Rooms are the actual conference and communication rooms used by Churchill and his Chiefs of Staff during World War II. In 2005, an extensive museum was added documenting the long and eventful life of Sir Winston Churchill.Read more
World War One Walks have now found a natural home on the homepage of School Travel Organiser. “Plenty of teachers found Blue Badge tours a natural fit for their geography and sports history courses in the run-up to 2012. We’re hoping we can repeat something like that with the Great War,” says Stan Medland, a World War One Walks committee member.Read more
There’s a Turkish saying that one disaster is better than 1,000 pieces of advice. Whatever myths created about it in the last 100 years, Gallipoli was a disaster. The Turks won. Gallipoli was the British Empire and France trying to knock Germany’s ally Turkey out of World War One, thereby reducing the pressure on the Allies’ eastern front. As the historians say, “Gallipoli was launched almost casually, into a void, and was doomed to fail.”Read more
In commemorating of the centenary of the First World War, much of our attention has been focused on the soldiers that fought and died in foreign lands in what was described as a war to end all wars. Simon Rodway’s walking tour from Holborn to Liverpool Street on 11 November 2014 made us look at the events closer to home – the deadly menace that was the Zeppelin air ships that flew almost silently over the London sky in 1915 wreaking havoc on the unsuspecting Londoners below by launching the first of many incendiary bombs here in London and other parts of England. It was to be known as the Year of the Zeppelin. The catastrophe that befell London lasted 20 minutes but our walk would take a little longer.Read more
The Blue Badge Tourist Guides' World War One Walks committee is organising more than a dozen events around the middle of November, which will recall the 1914-18 Home Front in London, Windsor, Manchester and Birmingham.Read more
A group of London Blue Badge Tourist Guides have created a website World War One Walks and a marketing programme to attract people who are interested in learning more about the Great War through walking tours. They have committed to building this initiative across the whole country and for the full five years of centenary commemorations.Read more
London Blue Badge Tourist Guides are involved in a truly unique art installation to commemorate the start of the First World War. More than 800,000 ceramic poppies – each representing a British and Colonial military death during the First World War - are being planted in the Tower of London’s dry moat. When completed on Armistice Day on 11 November 2014, the art installation, titled ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, will include 888,246 poppies.Read more