The other London

In this week’s post, our guest writer Robert takes us on a tour of some the more unusual sights of our nation’s capital. Robert is a journalist by trade, and has been teaching at the school for the last four years.

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So much to see.  So little time. That’s what lots of tourists say when they come to London. Of course, you should try to visit the main tourist locations like Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral. But also make time to see some of the less well-known sights. You won’t regret it.

Like the Old Operating Theatre. Once you’ve walked up the spiral staircase and entered the old chemist’s shop, you enter the room, built in 1822, where surgeons performed operations without antiseptic or anaesthetics. It’s a chilling place but an eye-opener and one of London’s most unusual museums.

Next go along to the London Canal Museum. Here you can learn about how goods were transported by barges before trains started. Horses pulled the boats along hundreds of miles of towpaths. The museum is in an old building where ice from Norway was brought by ship and kept cold before being sold.

Talking of ice, why not have a drink at Icebar London? In this underground bar the walls, seats, tables and even your glass are made of ice. Because the temperature is minus five degrees centigrade, you can only stay 40 minutes. Visitors are provided with special gloves and coats and the admission price covers the cost of a drink.

Students on a business course might want to take the Docklands Light Railway to Canary Wharf, the new financial district. With its skyscrapers containing some of the world’s top financial institutions, it’s the nearest Britain gets to looking like Manhattan. It’s in the old dock area and water channels run between the buildings. There are lots of good bars and restaurants in this almost car-free zone.

Staying with the money theme, you might like to visit the Bank of England Museum, which shows its history since its foundation in 1694, as well as giving an explanation of what the bank does. Nearby is the Metal Exchange, which is Europe’s last trading floor. Here commodities like copper, tin and aluminium are traded every day. The atmosphere is frantic with dealers shouting and holding two phones at once.

In the evening you might want to practise your English by meeting people from Britain and around the world. Give Meetup a try. This is a worldwide organisation in which people get together to share common interests. Most events are free and you just reserve a place and turn up. The groups cover every possible interest. Have fun!

By Robert Nurden


by trade (prep phr.) – used to refer to a type of work, particularly a skilled job
spiral staircase (n.) – circular stairs
chilling (adj.) – sinister, frightening
eye-opener (n.) – something surprising from which you learn
barge (n) – a flat transport boat
towpath (n.) – a track by a canal
admission price (n.) – the cost of entry
dock (n.) – a place where ships are tied up
commodity (n.) – a basic resource or product
frantic (adj.) – wild
to turn up (phr.v.) – to arrive


The Old Operating Theatre –
London Canal Museum –
Icebar London –
Canary Wharf – you can reach it on the Docklands Light Railway
Bank of England Museum –
London Metal Exchange –
Meetup –

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