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Last Updated: Monday, 25 April, 2005, 03:48 GMT 04:48 UK
London's much-loved icons at risk
By Marie Jackson
BBC News, London

Stroll past any tourist stall in Oxford Street and the icons of London will be neatly stacked up in all their glorious plastic and ceramic forms.

But while mini Tower Bridges and toy Big Bens look set to be rolling off the production line for years, others could soon be consigned to memory.

Here, BBC News looks at some that are under threat and others destined to become landmarks of tomorrow.


Jem (Emma Handy) and Sara (Clare Calbraith): BBC Two series set in cab
There's no shortage of space in black cabs

London's 20,000 bubble-shaped black cabs with their amber "taxi" beacon, however, could be a dying breed.

The Public Carriage Office, responsible for licensing cabs, is reviewing whether to open the market to different vehicles - which could mean people carriers replacing the cab as we know it.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA) wants drivers to be given a choice.

"It's a monopoly and at 30,000 for a cab, it's getting ridiculous," said Bob Oddy, of LTDA.

"What you see coming towards you would still be the same thing - still black with a yellow taxi light on top."

But Joe Kerr, of the Royal College of Art (RCA), said the black cab is still as much a symbol of London as it is a vehicle.

"It is utterly recognisable. It's like a British telephone box. You cannot separate a black cab from people's identity of London."


Souvenir red bus
The buses are seen as part of the city's "mobile architecture"

The red, curvaceous Routemaster, mass produced after the second world war and with a fan base reaching from America to Australia, has just six more months on the road.

While London's mayor has pledged a handful will remain on a number of "heritage" routes, its poor accessibility and death-trap reputation has forced its retirement before its 50th birthday.

"It's a personal tragedy," said bus enthusiast Tony Wallis, of Hackney, east London.

"It was a great benefit to see a bus 50 yards away, run up and jump on before it gets through the traffic light. And conductors were some of London's great characters."

Designer Douglas Scott is said to have treated it as a piece of "mobile architecture" which had to fit in with the city.


The Fast Show's tailors
Tailors fear Savile Row becoming an upmarket Carnaby Street

Since the 1800s, Savile Row has been synonymous with English tailoring - but its promise that a bespoke suit bought in Savile Row, will be made in Savile Row is under threat.

Its W1 location is a magnet for commercial developers but tailors fear new offices and shops will push up rents and force them out.

Angus Cundey, of Henry Poole and Co, said: "My fear is that Savile Row will become an upmarket Carnaby Street.

"I don't think our customers, bankers and lawyers and some royalty would be very impressed."

The developers though believe they can help this London icon survive in the modern world.

Nick Shepherd, of commercial property consultants Drivers Jonas, said: "Whatever happens it will not be in the same form as it was in the 18th century. It will be tailoring for the 21st century and that's got to be good for the tailors."


London Eye
The Eye is on a prime site close to the House of Commons

"A very good test of an icon is what you see when you are looking back at London from the outside," said George Ferguson, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Norman Foster's Swiss Re building adopted an iconic status here and abroad as quickly as people adopted its nickname of the Gherkin.

"It's been a brilliant building because it has raised the standards of high buildings," said Mr Ferguson.

Joe Kerr, of the RCA, reluctantly accepts its status.

"We are in trouble if we have to rely on Swiss bankers buildings being an icon for London," he said.

Although intended to be a temporary fixture, the South Bank's London Eye has won over the critics.

"You see it from all over the place but it never takes away from the view because it's transparent," said Mr Ferguson.

And one for the future? Wembley Stadium, said Mr Kerr.

"Most people hated the idea of the Twin Towers going but they have come up with a structural gesture in the arch which is great to look at from a passing train," he says.

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10 Dec 04 |  Magazine
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23 Aug 04 |  Business
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28 Apr 04 |  Magazine
Big Ben tops London icons list
10 Mar 03 |  England

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