Pubs, caravans, bridges: Britons vote in odd places
Some lucky London voters combined a trip to the polls with a stop in the pub Thursday, as they cast their ballots in one of the more unusual polling stations used for the British general election.
Locals who normally pop into The Anglesea Arms pub for a pint of Broadside, Brakspear or Wandle ale instead made the much more serious decision of who should represent them in parliament.
Regular punters poured into the boozer in plush South Kensington to choose their MP, sidling into the half-dozen voter booths in what is normally the restaurant section.
"It's a slight inducement to come and vote! I can't think of many places you can vote and drink at the same time," the polling station's senior presiding officer Martin Carver told AFP.
The pub is around the corner from the old house of 1920s prime minister Andrew Bonar Law. Writers Charles Dickens and D.H. Lawrence lived in the neighbouring terrace.
One mother trooped in with her three children, all wearing their school uniform of navy blue blazers and straw boater hats.
"I think I'm very fortunate to be able to vote in the pub," said Judy Carter, a retiree whose home overlooks the alehouse. "I think I'll be popping in for a drink later on.
"It will probably be at its busiest tonight, with people coming home from work thinking 'I'll vote when I get home and have a drink too'."
Paul Denley said: "You would have expected a church or a hall but this is just as good, if not better."
Voters also turned up at the Methodist Central Hall in central London, the closest polling station to the prime minister's Downing Street office, despite the racket of a megaphone tirade from anti-war protesters outside the Houses of Parliament.
Meanwhile Chelsea pensioners, in their striking red coats, made their way to vote near their army retirement home in west London.
In Seaton in Cornwall on England's southwest coast, voters cast their ballots inside a caravan at the beach car park.
Next to a mobile toilet for the officials' use, the white caravan had "polling station" signs plastered on it, along with the election rules.
One voter brought her dalmatian dogs along.
A hairdressers salon on the Isle of Portland peninsula in southern England was given a polling station makeover and villagers in Chettisham in Cambridgeshire, eastern England, cast their votes in a bungalow bedroom.
Retired hairdresser Carmelia Bond's painter and decorator son Marcus had moved out for the day.
"I don't insist on people taking off their shoes before they come in. I'll hoover later," Bond said.
Voters in Shropshire, central England, voted at the world's first cast-iron bridge as the Iron Bridge Tollhouse was used as a polling station for the first time.
In Fleet in Hampshire, southwest of London, votes were cast in a private house with a traditional thatched roof which had temporarily been transformed into a polling station.
In Spelsbury, near Oxford, a betting company posted the odds of who will be Britain's next premier outside the polling station where opposition Conservative leader David Cameron cast his ballot with wife Samantha.
Cameron was tipped as most likely on 1/5, followed by current Labour party prime minister Gordon Brown on 9/2. Lib Dem leader was an outsider at 12/1.
Eve-of-election opinion polls suggested the Conservatives will win the most seats in the 650-member parliament, but fall short of an absolute majority, and may have to do a deal with the Liberal Democrats, traditionally third.
© 2010 AFP