Gillespie Road, Post Office, Great Central and Sandy Lodge are not very inspiring in conjuring up travel around a great city, but these, amongst others, were once names of Underground stations.
Dozens of stations have changed their name, for instance, Great Central became the more romantically named Marylebone, and take Embankment, if you will, located on, well The Embankment. It would seem a perfectly reasonable name, and so it was when it opened in 1906, eight years later it was renamed Charing Cross (Embankment), then presumably as it was a bit of a mouthful with that parentheses nonsense they dropped the brackets and it became Charing Cross. Two generations of commuters later, in a nod to nostalgia, in 1974 it was renamed Charing Cross Embankment. Then two years later was given the title we know today (well, at least at the time of writing) of Embankment.
Other stations have changed due to their near neighbours. Famously Gillespie Road became Arsenal in 1932 but with the suffix Highbury Hill, which was later gradually dropped. Curiously Arsenal Station is closer to the Emirates Stadium than Arsenal’s former ground. So could it be renamed again?
Harry Gordon Selfridge was not so successful when he opened his eponymous Oxford Street store. He wanted Bond Street Station to be renamed Selfridges Station and drew up proposals for a direct subway connecting the station to his store. The proposals were declined. Take that to its logical conclusion Oxford Circus should become TopShop or Marble Arch, Primark.
Bank despite one of its entrances accessed via the Bank of England’s building was first called City Station.
In the days before we lost our high street post offices, rather confusingly there was an Underground station given that very name. The possible confusion ended in 1937 and the station renamed St. Paul’s just in time for Germany to try and bomb the cathedral out of existence.
The first ‘run’ on The Knowledge starts at Manor House Station, so named, not after a baronial manor house, its bucolic grounds gently sweeping down to the nearby River Lea, but some long-forgotten public house. This boozer had a chequered history, first opening its doors in 1820 then closed only to be resurrected before demolition. Over the years its name transmogrified into the Manor House fortuitously in time for the 1931 opening of the tube station that takes its name, much to the relief of residents setting them apart from downmarket Finsbury Park.
Likewise, Sandy Lodge conjures up a small building at the entrance to a baronial estate near the sea. In reality, it’s near Moor Park (and its current name), one of the most prestigious golf clubs in Britain, so should Moor Park be renamed Tiger Woods Station, or would that sound like a forested area inhabited by large cats?
Sometimes they realise their nomenclature mistake soon after opening. Eastcheap Station opened in 1884, only three weeks passed before it was renamed The Monument, and like many stations losing the definite article over time.
For some locations just don’t inspire a memorable name. Kennington Road Station was changed to Westminster Bridge Road, finally, it was settled with the prosaic title of Lambeth North Station.
The street of Charing Cross is just a few yards long, but it was decided to change the inspirationally named Trafalgar Square Station after this small unprepossessing street.
For London’s, most confusing stations look no further than Queensway and Bayswater stations which make for curious companions. Located just north of Hyde Park and barely yards apart, Bayswater Station is located in Queensway and has been called variously Bayswater; Bayswater (Queen’s Road) & Westbourne Grove; Bayswater (Queen’s Road); and Bayswater (Queensway). While one of Queensway Station entrances are in Bayswater and has been called Queen’s Road Station. Confused? You should be as there is no Queen’s Road in Kensington. It has taken over 46 years to stop this renaming malarky.