Recently, for no apparent reason, I decided to write about the first alphabetical entry in my map index. All went swimmingly until reaching X, not one entry, no Xanadu Drive, Xylophone Gardens, even that fine organisation Xerox seems to have missed a trick when it comes to naming thoroughfares.
In fact, there isn’t a single X-road in the country, even America only has nine.
With a little research, I found my first, and the only X featured in a little book written by Hugh Pearman, a London cabbie. I then realised that Hugh Pearman (no relation) had once written a Guest Post about Curious London: An illustrated guide to the curious places and curious things in the twenty-nine boroughs and cities that make up the county of London.
Much of the small book by the ‘Cabman Psychogeographer’ was devoted to facts such as where the Brighton Road ends: “Where Craven Hill Road makes a ‘T’ junction with Porchester Terrace”. It’s the sort of trivia loved by cabbies.
As you might have expected Pearman found some very curious locations, among them was XX Place which he describes as:
Half hidden in Globe Road is a little turning with the oddest of all odd names, XX Place, so-called, it is believed, because it was built to house their workers, by the owners of the huge brewery in whose shadow it stands. lending colour to that belief is the two little beer barrels, carved in stone, high up in the wall of one of the cottages.
XX Place was built in 1842 for locally employed workers and was only a short street of 10 small terrace houses running along one side of the street. About 10 feet wide with the majority of those living in the street were employed at the nearby Charringtons Brewery.
The local name for the street was either XX Place, 2X Place or, as known by older locals, Double X Place.
These were typical two-up two-down properties without a hall, with the front door opening onto the living room. Each had a small yard at its rear.
London Inheritance has researched this little cul-de-sac and discovered that a family of 10 once lived in one of these little houses.
XX Place in Globe Road, just off Mile End Road, was demolished around 1957/58 being replaced with Stock Court student dormitories.
Research by retired Head of Highways at Tower Hamlets discovered:
XX Place, Globe Road E1, was a narrow street, first on the left off Globe Road from Mile End Road, serving ten small cottages on the north side. One of the houses in this narrow passageway had an inscription on a stone projection that showed a half-barrel marked XX and the initials I.S. XX Place with the date 1823. “I” was a character frequently used in earlier times for the modern letter “J”. This indicated that the owner was J Stayner, a brewer by trade and there used to be a small brewery near this alley. Note Stayners Road just to the west. It is listed in the LCC 1901 volume as both “Double X Place” and XX Place. All the houses in XX Place were demolished about 1956 in an LCC clearance area and the street closed. It no longer exists as a street although the name has been revived commercially on a number of occasions, probably for its novelty value.
Further research by A London Inheritance led to a book titled A Londoner’s Own London by Charles G. Harper, published in 1927. Here the author visited XX Court and sketched the alley and also a plaque which gives a date of 1823 and not 1842.
As a final curiosity to this little alley has been used by criminals according to this website’s account:.
There used to be an XX Place in Stepney, east London. It was demolished in 1956 but every so often someone tries to use it illegally. I had to have one cast-iron street sign taken down on the instructions of the naming and numbering officer for the area in the 1980s. The owner of the cast iron plate never claimed it back so a few years later I had it mounted on wood and gave it to the head of Highways as a leaving present.
Featured image: XX Place 1956 London Metropolitan Archives, City of London, catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_406_56_3582