A Short History of the London Borough Wars

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A Short History of the London Borough War published on www.authonomy.com

A Short History of the London Borough Wars.

By Daisy Cains.

The founder members of our great alliance, Holborn, Marylebone, Mayfair, St James’, Soho, Strand and Westminster signed the inaugural treaty in the momentous year of 6432. Three years later there was a small expansion and Barbican, Clerkenwell and Hoxton joined. The big expansion came ten years later when Bayswater, Belgravia, Brompton, Camden, Chelsea, Regents Park, St Pancras and Somers Town all three their hats into the ring. Finsbury Park, Pentonville, Pimlico, Shoreditch and Stepney joined shortly after, having missed out on the big expansion due to internal squabbles.

Only little, leafy Bloomsbury held out, we, the residents voted not to join. Finally we had to, we could not hold out any longer. We had seen the prosperity of our neighbours and we could no longer sit in our studies at the University or browse aimlessly through the bookshops and pretend we were better off on the outside. The leafy peace of Russell Square was no fun anymore. We were being left behind and everyone else was making a fortune.

So we joined and at first things went well. There were always one or two tensions just below the surface, the disputed area of Hyde Park regularly raised its ugly head and led to a bit of shoe banging but we coped. We resisted the expansionist policies of St James’, their vast agricultural power, based on the rich verdant areas of Green Park and St James’ Park gave them ideas above their station. The grants received by the smaller boroughs such as Holborn, St Pancras and Stepney stuck in the craw of those boroughs that didn’t receive them but generally we muddled along and the outlook was fine.

But the clouds soon gathered. Should we admit people from the South, from the hitherto independent boroughs of Bermondsey, Borough, Lambeth, Southwark and Waterloo? We had always had a distrust of people from the South.

But we let them in and things started to go wrong, they poured over the river, taking our jobs and causing trouble. The simmering differences came to the boil. The import of jellied eels was strictly controlled much to the annoyance of the southerners. Entry to the University was made prohibitively expensive to all but the residents of Bloomsbury by the Statute of Gower Street. The resentment of the other boroughs was stoked still further by rumours that Bloomsbury was giving concessionary entry to students from its close allies, Holborn and St Pancras. The boroughs along the river controlled the bridges and their tolls were unpopular.

But immigration was the real bugbear. Outsiders from the poorer areas of Kent and the wilds of Sussex constantly attempted to enter the city via Belgravia and Brompton, who were criticised for the weakness of their border controls. These immigrants then headed for the wealthier areas of Mayfair and Soho. City policy of returning immigrants to the borough through which they first entered the city was only laxly enforced and soon seething detention camps grew up the areas just north of Piccadilly. The Royal Academy became a vast processing centre for these unfortunates who were slowly repatriated to Belgravia. They simply returned to Mayfair by making a nighttime crossing of St James’ Park. Public pressure led to the electrification of Birdcage Walk and The Mall, but although the route was difficult it

was not impossible for your determined economic migrant, sick at heart after a yet another summer’s hop picking in the wild and hillbilly packed backwoods of Kent.

The failure of the City Premier to do anything worth while only exacerbated the problem. In fact Kingston the Newt was so ineffectual that I had to look him up in the Great Book when researching this paper as all information about him seemed to have slipped my mind.

Out and out war seemed unlikely but events soon gathered their own pace.

The people of Barbican were the first to act, well they would be, wouldn’t they, they had always been warlike, their emblem is a fortress after all. They took a stand on London Wall and repelled all comers. Nobody got across their fortifications but St Paul’s was lost to the southern invaders. Threadneedle Street was left untouched, even barbarians from the south respected the power of money.

We held a summit; something had to done to stop the invasion from the south. The situation could not be allowed to get worse but we couldn’t agree and went our separate ways with a brief to bring some reasonable solutions to the situation with us at a meeting to held sometime next week.

The people of Soho took advantage of the hiatus and annexed Jermyn Street, their own sweat shop clothing makers had for a long time resented the up market competition.

From then on it was every man or every area for themselves. The Finsbury Park Hillbillies attacked the newspaper offices in Clerkenwell. Selfridges was captured by the Marylebone Mafia and Westminster and Belgravia fought a monumental three-day battle in Victoria. The guns of HMS Belfast were turned on the Tower. Lambeth launched a daring, dawn raid in the Houses of Parliament and relocated their Government there from the dingy Town Hall, only for the people of Westminster to recapture it two weeks later following a vicious battle that degenerated into little more than an orgy of blood letting.

Skirmishes raged all over the city, people from every area taking advantage of the anarchy to settle old scores. The cab drivers of Hoxton formed themselves into a quite formidable motorised division and embarked on a series of lightening raids on the ranks of their more prosperous cousins in Mayfair.

The people of the Strand launched a series of brutal attacks on the lawyers in Holborn and for a time it appeared that some semblance of unity may be restored as this was one of the few acts of violence that was supported by all factions in the City.

The most brutal action of the early years of the war was the battle of Hyde Park or the Battle of the Three Aldermen as it became known. The forces of Brompton and Marylebone clashed with those of Mayfair in a bloody and brutal encounter on a cold winter’s morning. The early exchanges saw Mayfair’s army trapped in a pincer movement and at risk of annihilation, which they most certainly would have been but for an inspirational flanking movement by the Apsley House Dragoons, which drove the centre of Brompton’s army into the icy depths of the Serpentine and allowed the remainder of the Mayfair army to escape to the safety of their fortress in Grosvenor Square.

The People of Somer’s Town suffered most, the stations of Euston, King’s Cross and St Pancras were continually bombed will all the other boroughs claiming responsibility. They were willing to countenance even the most sordid acts of terrorism to prevent Somer’s Town using the railway as an artery for bringing in reinforcements. Although outside reinforcements were thin on the ground, the war was a matter of supreme indifference to anyone north of Watford. The people of St

Pancras tried repeatedly to capture the station that bore their name but was inconveniently placed on the wrong side of the Euston Road.

Somer’s town was left in ruins, it’s people in rags and forced to eat rats.

There were many attempts to elicit support from other areas, Berkshire, the superpower in the west received many such entreaties and rumour has it that the Aldermen of Westminster knew in advance of the Chelsea microlight attack on the Royal Box fleet moored on Ascot’s boating lake and failed to pass on the information to their opposite numbers in Slough. Still Berkshire resisted, unwilling to take sides and risk an all out confrontation with ice war rivals Essex in the east.

What of my own part in all this and what of leafy inoffensive Bloomsbury? We tried to remain neutral, like the people of Broadgate. They declared neutrality on the very day that Barbican clashed with the Southerners and that neutrality was respected, well the money was there, wasn’t it. And soon Threadneedle Street became the repository for untold amounts of stolen cash and looted artworks.

Without the buffer of the banking system, the option of neutrality was never a realistic path for Bloomsbury to take, we had no money and also the Ottoman community of nearby Clerkenwell took a serious and quite belligerent interest in the contents of the British Museum. So we were dragged into the mayhem.

I myself took part in the Battle of Coram’s Field, as the commander of a battalion of the Lamb at Lamb’s Conduit Street Pals Brigade. A bloody and protracted engagement with Clerkenwell, who received clandestine support from Finsbury Park. The enemy guns sited on Mount Pleasant rained shrapnel down on our troops in field for several days before the fighting began in earnest.

Our centre under the command of Alderman Mecklenborough was mauled by the Farringdon Heavy Dragoons and our guns were put out of action by a daring nighttime raid by the Guardian Woman’s Page Fusiliers. All looked bleak especially once our counter attack across the Gray’s Inn Road was stalled by determined resistance from the Finsbury Park Militia and a group of Canvey Island mercenaries holed up in the Eastman Dental Hospital.

The position of the Lamb at Lamb’s Conduit Pals next came under the enemy’s withering fire and I must say that we acquitted ourselves very well, repulsing a vicious frontal assault from the Hatton Garden Light Infantry before counter attacking along Guildford Street and for a time bringing our fire on the enemy artillery at Mount Pleasant. Mercifully bringing a respite for the troops suffering at our beleaguered centre.

That respite gave us the chance to counter attack and the Woburn Place Hussars, brilliantly led by Johnny Tavistock stormed along Calthorpe Street and met the enemy centre at Pakenham Street. The defence of the Holiday Inn, Farringdon Road has passed into folklore and for a time the success of our attack was touch and go. A brilliant flanking movement by the School of Oriental & African Studies Rifle Brigade along Exmouth Market left the enemy exposed on two sides and my own depleted forced now overran the guns on Mount Pleasant and we had won the day.

I next saw action at Bedford Square and I need say no more about that unremittingly bloody encounter. Any student of history will be all too familiar with a battle that has become a byword for the senseless loss of human life.

The war continued, victories and defeats followed, alliances were formed and broken. The Premier of Chelsea was kidnapped and murdered. Rumour has it that he was shot, poisoned, stabbed and finally drowned.

I would like to be able to end this brief history with a happy ending, the arrival of a peacemaker, a man of vision, lawgiver and a great healer. Attempts were

made to agree a cease-fire by Cameronson the Fat but they came to nothing and our second President became as irrelevant as his predecessor.

Unfortunately the war still goes on, we are still at each other’s throats. As I write the smoke has barely settled from yet another battle between one faction and another and we are all still reeling from the slaughter that stemmed from the Covent Garden Cucumber Riots.

Happily I am now retired from the military but the war still affects me. I received shrapnel wounds at Bedford Square but I cannot get adequate treatment in Bloomsbury. To do that I must travel to the specialists in Harley Street and whilst my presence is welcome in Mayfair, to get there I must travel through Soho where a group of choleric judges of the so called Kangaroo War Crimes Tribunal want to have a word with me about trumped up allegations arising from my actions at Bedford Square. Charges that I refute.

I am affected in many other ways, the curfews and the air raids have become commonplace but I cannot obtain fuel for my microlight in Bloomsbury at a price that is anything like reasonable. I could buy it at a fraction of the price in nearby Shoreditch. The same is true of cigarettes, they are taxed heavily here whilst in Hoxton they are dirt-cheap and I believe they are even cheaper south of the river.

I can only buy things manufactured within the City; it is very difficult to import things from outside. Fruit from Kent, beer from Burton and lamb from Wales are almost impossible to get hold of.

The taxes I pay from the meagre income I make as a military historian go to the leviathan at our centre that supposedly labours to keep us all at peace.

But things could be worse, I could still be eligible for military service and I can only feel sorry for those young men who are today starting out on life’s great journey.

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