Visitors to the city of London will be happy to hear that there’s a personalised sightseeing experience taking the capital by storm, one small car at a time.
smallcarBIGCITY provides bespoke sightseeing experiences of London in a fleet of restored classic Mini Coopers. They also offer advertising solutions, classic car hire, wedding transportation and corporate entertainment. We spoke to MD Robert Welch to find out more about their obsession with small cars, and of course, the big city of London.
What is your favourite part of London and why?
This is incredibly difficult in a city as vast and diverse and London because each district has its own individual merits and charms and depending on what day it is and what I am looking for, my favourite location changes. The best place I have lived so far has to be Little Venice – there are so many cafes and restaurants to choose from, lovely walks by the canal, beautiful architecture and you are still only seven minutes from central London. You cannot beat Mayfair/St James for a fancy dinner in a area dripping with history. Notting Hill is brilliant for antiques and I enjoy seeing the constantly evolving state of East London – Hackney Wick is especially good, where London’s industrial past is changing into a hubbub of cultural and art. On Saturdays I like to eat and drink my way around London’s local markets – Borough, Maltby and Brockley are my personal favourites and on Sundays I love Columbia Road Flower Market for its vibrancy, colour and smells. The City offers the best views over the capital – Sky Garden, Sushi Samba, Vertigo 42 etc. It really depends on what mood you are in, because London has it all.
We see you have named all your Minis. Where did the names come from and which Mini is your favourite?
Rosie – She was the first red car we got.
Lilly – Because she is white and is the favourite for weddings.
Daphne – I had a crush on Daphne from the TV series Frazier and this car always got the most amount of compliments. She is a bit of a flirt so I thought I would name her Daphne.
Poppy – was bought on Remembrance Sunday when all the poppies were at the Tower of London.
Mildred – inherited the name from the previous owner, it was a condition of the sale that I did not change it!
Betty – Betty Blue Eyes
Lulu – chosen by my six year old god-daughter.
Lizzy – she has a different cam which mean she has a slightly higher top speed so we say she long legs – ‘Long Legs Lizzy’
Jules – Jules was/still is my first ever car. My father bought her for my 17th birthday. I love her with all my heart and will never sell her. She is my favourite but don’t tell the others.
How many people have you squeezed into one of your Minis?
At university the record we managed was seven – through a McDonald’s drive-through.
What is your top London fact?
I am a bit of a geek so I like anything that reminds us how old London is: for example there has been a wine merchant where Vinopolis (which still is a wine merchant) stands in Borough Market since 59AD. Southwark Cathedral was founded in 606AD and there is still a wooden post protruding out of the banks of the Thames from the first ever London Bridge, build by the Romans 2000 years ago.
What is the most interesting thing you have spotted whilst out on a tour?
One day I was trying to escape a colossal traffic jam by London Bridge so went down a tiny back street. I found two gems – a pub called The Boot and Flogger and a graveyard for prostitutes called Cross Bones Graveyard. This is where the Bishop of Winchester laid his ladies of the night to rest when their time came, refusing to bury them in the church yard of Southwark Cathedral where he facilitated his operation, stating that they were no longer holy enough!
If you could be taken on a tour of any city in the world where would you choose?
Pompeii, Rome or Egypt – anything with masses of history.
If you could choose to do any of our Red Letter Days experiences, what would it be?
I’m pretty car mad, so your most outrageous supercar experience please!
Thanks Robert, it’s been our pleasure!