Tag Archives: London facts

Seven London place names explained

No-one who has even the slightest knowledge about the United Kingdom’s historic capital would argue that London isn’t one of the most fascinating place to live, work or visit.

What’s more, for those who take an interest in language, London has some truly weird and wonderful place names.

Have you ever wondered where they come from?

[M]any of the capital’s quirkier landmarks and street names are the result of a rich tapestry of historical and cultural influences from all over the world that’s been intricately woven throughout the ages.

Let’s take a look at seven well known geographical locations and see if we can shed some light on their origins.

London Underground’s Bakerloo Line opened in 1906 and was originally called the Baker Street & Waterloo Railway. It was given the nickname ‘Bakerloo Line’ by the Evening Standard since it originally ran from Baker Street to Waterloo. When the name was made official, many people found it undignified and vulgar – it was not a popular name. Nowadays, tube trains on the Bakerloo line carry more than 110 million passengers a year.

Canary Wharf
You might be thinking that there’s a history of birds in Canary Wharf but you’d be wrong! And despite the ostentatious office developments that have sprung up there in recent years, the area actually has very modest origins. In fact, it obtained its name from a fruit factory which was built there in 1937 to process Spanish fruit from the Canary Islands. Interestingly, the name of the largest of the islands, Gran Canaria, has its origins in the Latin Canaria insula, which literally translates as ‘Isle of Dogs’!

Elephant & Castle
It is often said that this name is a corruption of the Spanish Infanta de Castile, a reference to the wife of Edward I, Eleanor of Castile. In Spanish and Portuguese history, the infanta is the monarch’s eldest daughter who has no claim to the throne. However, this is not the real story. The name actually refers to an old inn, The Elephant & Castle, which even gets a mention in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: ‘In the south suburbs, at the Elephant, is best to lodge.’ The pub was built on the site of a former smithy of the same name, with the heraldic sign used by the smithy as well as London’s Cutler’s Company who made knives, scissors and surgical instruments.

Dating back to around 1050 when it was called Cnihtebricge, the name means ‘bridge of the young men’. Hard to imagine now but there was a bridge which stood where the main road towards the west crossed over the Westbourne stream. Knight meant ‘lad’, especially one employed as a retainer. The allusion is that this was a meeting place for young men, long before the area became famous for a certain large corner shop!

This name makes a first appearance in 1623 as Pickadilly Hall. It would appear that it is the nickname for a house belonging to successful tailor Robert Baker who made a lot of money from the sale of piccadills or piccadillies. These were collars for both men and women and extremely on trend at the time. The name of the house was later used for the district and the street which we now know as Piccadilly. When Regent Street was built in 1819, Piccadilly Circus was created at the junction.

The name Pimlico derives from Ben Pimlico who owned a public house in Hoxton of the same name. The inn was part of the theatre scene and a favourite meeting place for playwrights; it is mentioned in plays by Ben Jonson and Thomas Dekker. The word Pimlico is a corrupted version from the name of the North American Pamlico Indians and is most likely the first native American place name to have made it all the way to England!

Pudding Lane
Not as straightforward as it might seem, this lane has no connection with desserts. The old English word pudding means entrails. Pudding Lane is the place where London’s Eastcheap based butchers would slaughter their animals, letting the entrails slide down the steep hill all the way down into the River Thames!

Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the property industry. For the information in this post, London-based office renting specialist Stuart Neils, who were consulted.

CabbieBlog-cabThis is a sponsored guest post for which CabbieBlog has received a fee. Proceeds from these articles help keep the wheels turning on this site offering free content for anybody with an interest in London. All links here conform with guidelines set out in Write a Post.

London through the years

Nineteen-sixty-five was a significant year for London, we said goodbye to iconic leader Sir Winston Churchill who passed away aged 90. The midst of the swinging 60’s were happening with top fashion boutiques, record shops and trendy hairdressers popping up all over the capital. The Beatles were in their hay day, Ken Dodd was topping the UK music charts, and the hit film The Sound of Music was released at the cinema.

[F]ast forward 50 years to 2015, and the population living in London has reached 8.6 million the highest it has been in over 76 years. The buildings have got considerably taller and we now pay over 113 times more to use the tube. Our Queen, Elizabeth II, has become the longest reigning British monarch and a great grandmother to five.

How much has London really changed in the past 50 years? Quite a lot according to Central London Apartments who have compared London in 1965 with how it is today and you’ll be surprised by the findings. We all know the capital looks considerably different and prices have risen remorselessly but compared these facts:

  • Heathrow airport now has 15 times as many passengers
  • The cost of a pint of beer has gone up by 4,900 per cent
  • A loaf of bread has gone up by 2,600 per cent – if it goes up the same rate in the next 50 years we could be paying £35 for a loaf in 2065
  • The highest paid footballer in London in 2015 Cesc Fabregas earns 177,900 per cent more than Johnny Hayes of Fulham did in 1965
  • In 1965 men were paid on average 90 per cent more than women, compared to 20 per cent more today
  • Britain was using pre decimal coins until 1971. In 1965 Farthings, pennies, shillings and crowns were used instead of the current pence and decimal pounds. (1 shilling is equivalent to around 5 pence)
  • The BT Tower opened in 1965 and was the tallest building in London. This is now The Shard which is over 100 meters taller
  • Now known more for his stand-up comedy and ‘tickling stick’ – in 1965 Ken Dodd had the best-selling song of the year in the UK
  • Mary Quant introduces the miniskirt from her shop Bazaar on the Kings Road in Chelsea
  • 7 January – Identical twin brothers Ronnie and Reggie Kray, 31, are arrested on suspicion of running a protection racket in London
  • 10 March – Goldie, a London Zoo golden eagle, is recaptured after 13 days of freedom
  • 19 March – A record price of 760,000 guineas is paid at Christie’s for Rembrandt’s Titus
  • 1 April The Greater London Council comes into its powers, replacing the London County Council and greatly expanding the metropolitan area of the city
  • 19 May – West Ham United F.C. become the second British club to win a European trophy, defeating West German 1860 Munich 2-0 at Wembley Stadium
  • 17 June – London premiere the Duke of York’s Theatre, one of the first mainstream British plays with lesbian characters. Beryl Reid plays the title role
  • 22 June – The 700th anniversary of Parliament is celebrated
  • 8 July – Great Train Robber Ronald Biggs escapes from Wandsworth Prison
  • 24 July – Freddie Mills, former British boxing champion, is found shot in his car in Soho
  • 29 July – The Beatles film Help! debuts in London
  • 21 August – Charlton Athletic F.C. player Keith Peacock becomes the first substitute to appear in a Football League match
  • 1 October – Hackney based company Corgi Toys introduce James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 from the film Goldfinger the all-time best selling model car at six million units and winning the first ‘toy of the year award’
  • 8 October – The Post Office Tower opens in London


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London Forum

Question-Mark-400x500Today launches a new project for CabbieBlog. It occurred to me that I’m always being asked by my passengers questions about London. Often I don’t have the answers but I’d like to bet that thousands of Londoners do know the answer.

Now in its fledgling state I have no idea of the popularity of the London Forum; will it be inundated with requests about being a cabbie in London or requests for trivial facts about our city; or will the idea be just another ego trip that remains forever lost in cyberspace. Only time will tell. If, and it’s a big if, this works you follow the query link on the right sidebar which will take you to a request form.

[L]og in, fill out your query and wait. Or alternatively you may attempt to answer a question posted by someone else. All contributions will be moderated so hopefully the new feature will have a certain degree of authenticity, not to say become a source of information.

Want to know Boris Johnson’s official roles as Mayor or the amount of rubbish collected in our streets; the best seats in a theatre or if you have to pay the congestion charge ask away, somebody out there knows the answer.

Conversely if you have some idea as to the correct answer to someone’s question, help them out.

Give it a go, but for the more enthusiastic (or foolhardy) if you feel the urge to write a post CabbieBlog is always open for submissions – it helps me from having to come up with two new posts every week. Anyway click this link for more information.