Three puzzling sights in English cities explained


A composite image of a cream telephone box, Abraham Lincoln statue and the Savoy Hotel

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BBC website readers got in touch to ask questions about these sights

There are some sights in cities across England that have left our readers puzzled. What is a statue of an American president doing here and why are some of our telephone boxes a different colour? Here are the answers to some of the questions our readers asked us to investigate.

Why is there a statue of Abraham Lincoln in Manchester?

Matt Larbey, 30, said he asked the question after moving to the city and finding it “a bit odd” to see a statue of the 16th US president there.

“I heard a story that it was gifted because of something to do with the American Civil War… I’d love to know more about the story behind it,” he said.

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George Holt

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The statue was donated by Mr and Mrs Charles Phelps Taft of Cincinnati, Ohio

Mr Larbey had heard correctly – the statue honours Manchester’s allegiance to Abraham Lincoln’s Union during the American Civil War.

The city boycotted cotton picked in the southern states in protest against slave labour, according to Visit Manchester.

The resulting Lancashire Cotton Famine led to mass unemployment and poverty among textile workers in Manchester.

They put their principles ahead of the need to feed their families and their actions assisted Lincoln in ending the Civil War.

Lincoln wrote a letter praising the working people of Manchester for their “sublime Christian heroism”.

The statue, by George Grey Barnard, was originally sited in the grounds of Platt Hall, Platt Fields Park, in 1919. It was moved to Lincoln Square on Brazennose Street in 1986.

Mr Larbey said: “I always assumed that Manchester’s history with the American Cotton industry and slavery would be more negative.

“One of the things I love about Manchester is how much civic pride everyone has.”

More of England’s quirks

Why are phone boxes in Hull cream?

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Getty Images

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Hull’s telephone network is run by independent provider KCOM

Hull’s telephone network was never run by the Post Office which was responsible for red phone boxes.

In 1904, Hull City Council was one of several local authorities to set up their own phone network.

Back then it was called Hull Telephone Department and today it is KCOM. It had cream phone boxes.

Other authorities later gave up control of their networks to the Post Office which wanted to create a single national service.

While the Post Office network was eventually taken over by BT, Hull’s remained independent.

All of the communications in the city were run by the city council until it sold its final stake in 2007 and so all of the phone boxes are cream, not the red that BT uses.

Why does the traffic on the approach road to the Savoy Hotel off the Strand drive on the right?

Nanda Menon asked this question after noticing it when he moved to London from Malaysia in the 1960s.

“No one really seemed to know or were even aware that this particular quirk existed,” he said.

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Getty Images

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Cars drive on the right on the approach to the Savoy Hotel for a practical reason

An act of parliament was passed in 1902 allowing carriages and cars to enter Savoy Court on the right.

This was to prevent cars dropping off or picking up people at the Savoy Theatre from blocking the hotel’s entrance.

However, other benefits did emerge from the arrangement, a spokeswoman for the Savoy Hotel told us.

Women traditionally sat behind their chauffeur, so pulling up on the right meant the rich and famous could exit their car in style.

The driver did not need to walk around the vehicle to open the door so the guest could move straight from the car into the hotel.

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Source : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42823814

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