Tag Archives: London streets

Are there any more Jubilees left?

Crossrail, sorry Elizabeth Line is part of a flurry of openings and renamings commemorating regal anniversaries – Big Ben’s tower, streets, schools, hospitals, new housing estates – all finding themselves getting a moniker to mark the Queen’s important day, it is her 70th year as our Monarch after all.

To mark this important point in our history, and as someone who has had to study road names obsessively, CabbieBlog gives you a tour of London ‘Jubilees’.

Jubilee Hall, The Piazza, Covent Garden, built-in 1904, with its Jubilee Market, is probably the most famous of them all.

Jubilee Avenue E4, near Highams Park Underground Station, is handy if you have a need for the North Circular Road very close by.

Jubilee Close NW10 & NW9 off Nicoll Road, Harlesden, is more a street than a close and so long it has two postcodes.

Jubilee Crescent N9, backing Henry Barrass Recreation Ground, Edmonton this thoroughfare at least lives up to its name, being a perfect crescent.

Jubilee Place SW3, running off King’s Road is probably the most expensive ‘Jubilee’ as it is a short walk from Sloane Square.

Jubilee Street E1, off Commercial Road, runs parallel to Sidney Street, made famous when Winston Churchill directed police in the famous siege of 1911.

Jubilee Terrace, Burlington Road SW6, handy if you are a Fulham supporter, Craven Cottage is a two-minute walk away.

Jubilee Way SW19, those living South of the River must be Republicans as this ‘Jubilee’ near South Wimbledon is the only one in London not located in London’s northern environs. It looks quite long on the map, but being down Sarf, I haven’t checked it out.

Gaslit

Two hundred and fifteen years ago, on 28th January 1807, London’s Pall Mall was the first street lit by gaslight.

Pall Mall was laid out in its present location in 1661, replacing a much older highway slightly to the south that ran from Charing Cross to St James’s Palace – then the residence of the King of England.

The name of the street is derived from ‘pall-mall’, a ball game that was played there during the 17th century.

The Pall Mall brand of cigarettes was introduced in 1899 by the Black Butler Company (UK) in an attempt to cater to the upper class with the first ‘premium’ cigarette. It is named after Pall Mall.

The gaslight was developed in the 1790s. The credit usually goes to Scottish engineer William Murdoch, but it was Friedrich Albert Winzer (sometimes anglicized to Frederick Winsor), a German entrepreneur living in London, who lit Pall Mall.

In 1804, the same year he patented coal-gas lighting, Winzer demonstrated the technology during a lecture at the Lyceum Theatre. By 1807, he had moved into a house on Pall Mall, one of the city’s most fashionable streets.

He followed the illumination of Pall Mall with a special exhibition on 4th June 1807, in honour of the birthday of King George III, using gaslight to superimpose images against the walls of the buildings along his street.

There are still 1,500 gas lamps in London. They don’t need lighting every night, but the timer that lights them automatically needs adjusting every fortnight to keep pace with shorter or longer days. Before timers, lamps were lit with an 8ft long brass pole with a pilot light – last used around Temple 1976.

Europe’s smallest crescent

Keystone Crescent, just a few minutes walk from King’s Cross, reputedly has the smallest radius of any crescent in Europe, and is unique in having a matching inner and outer circle.

This tiny street consisting of only 24 houses is to be found at the southernmost end of Caledonian Road. Robert James Stuckey, whose father was a bricklayer, built the crescent in 1846 and imaginatively called it Caledonian Crescent, its shape was probably chosen to make the most of an unusually shaped site.

The houses would have initially been those of lower/middle class, working families. According to London Living History, in 1851 there were 240 people, of 76 families, living in 22 houses, with many properties rented out by the Stuckey family, with 2A acting as the estate office.

Up until recently, the area has had a reputation for deprivation and prostitution, and in the early 1900’s Algerton Stuckey, Robert’s grandson wanted to redevelop his investment. The plans fell through, however, he did change the name to Keystone Crescent, presumably to make it sound more appealing. Ninety years later, when the Channel Tunnel was being proposed, a new station was planned next to King’s Cross, this would have involved half of Keystone Crescent being demolished to dig the hole required to build the station.

Researching the history of Keystone Crescent, Jack Chesher from Living London History came across a dramatic story about the Stuckey family:

A stash of letters and personal items belonging to Robert Stuckey was discovered by his descendants under the bed at number 2A. They are generally about everyday occurrences, however also reveal a shocking secret: he had a second family!
Robert first married Hannah Bennewith, with whom he had 7 children. He then married Sarah Culver in 1864, with whom he also had 7 children, this time using the surname ‘James’ (his middle name). Hannah died in 1857 but the letters reveal that the two relationships ran alongside each other. Indeed, Robert’s first child with Sarah (the 2nd wife) had arrived in 1841. Whether Hannah knew she was sharing his affections with another woman is unclear but this was all certainly news to Robert’s descendants.

Bob Stuckey has had the letters transcribed and you can buy them here.

Keystone Crescent, King’s Cross, mid 19th century terraced houses in a crescent just off the Caledonian Road. Grade II listed by Jim Osley (CC BY-SA 2.0)

One of a kind

You know how it is, ordering something online and when ready to enter your address you are invited by the algorithm to start typing.

Now if you live in High Street or Park Road you will have to type much of your address before being able to ‘click’ on your order’s correct destination. For you it’s better to give your postcode, that way there’s only a couple of dozen sharing that six- or seven-digit number.

But here’s a little window on my world, my street has a unique name commemorating if anyone needed reminding, that the second queen to Henry IV died here in 1437. So within five keystrokes, my address pops up. With 360 miles comprising 60,000 streets, surely London must have many similarly uniquely named thoroughfares.

First I tried London’s shortest named street – Hide. Yes! That was unique, nowhere in the UK is there a Hide; Hide Street, Hide Road even the definite article – The Hide.

At the other end of the road-naming scale is St. Martin-in-the-Field Church Path. No prizes for guessing how many of those are to be found in Britain.

What about London’s shortest street – Kirk Street at 50ft long? Here 28 are to be found of various lengths in the UK. London’s longest road at 7.45 miles is Green Lanes, curiously only 8 are to be found, despite its rather seemingly common name. Next, I tried London’s longest street, which is Rotherhithe Street at 1.5 miles in a wide arc just south of the Thames, that one was satisfyingly unique.

The oldest house to found in the City is medieval, having survived the Great Fire of London, and situated in the wonderfully named Cloth Fair, surely fairs of all kinds have taken place in Britain. Nope, just one.

As streets go, at 15 inches wide you have to give it to Brydges Place for the title of London’s narrowest, and the only one of any width, to be found in the UK.

Other unusually named unique streets are:

Crutched Friars, EC3; Bleeding Heart Yard, EC1; Shoulder of Mutton Alley, E14; Hanging Sword Alley, EC4; Trump Street, EC2; St. Mary Axe, EC3; French Ordinary Court, EC3; Wardrobe Place, EC4

And obviously Maggie Blake’s Cause, a short alley near Tower Bridge, is unique.

Top or bottom

Following on from last week’s post, discussing the highs and lows, and giving you an insight to my shortest and longest (journeys that is), we now come to this tricky question: Is a destination at the top or bottom of a street?

If a street actually does, you know, climb a hill then the top is just naturally the top.

Or does top or bottom refer to the street’s numbering?

The British Postal Museum and Archive claim the first recorded instance of a street being numbered is Prescot Street in Goodmans Fields around 1708. Regulation did not take place until 1855 with the passing of the Metropolitan Management Act, by that time there were different numbering systems even in the same street, for example in 1780 Craven Street near Strand had three sets of numbers.

But where does the numbering start?

Odd numbers are usually assigned to the left side of the street and even numbers to the right side, commencing heading out of the town centre from the town hall or other civic building, or even numbers can be placed on the north and west sides and odd numbers on the south and east sides of streets. I hope that clears up some of the confusion.

I was once asked by a customer to go to an annexe of the Chinese Embassy in Portland Place. I asked, quite reasonably I thought, as the road is a dual carriageway, which side of the street is number 66. Her reply the north side, oh dear, the road runs north to south. Now armed with this new information makes the Chinese annexe on the same side as the embassy – possibly.

When asked to go to a destination your passenger expects, quite rightly, to be taken via the shortest route. But when someone does say “I’m at the top of the road”, what do you think they mean?

Portobello Road, with its two postcodes of W10 and W11, is mainly one way (sometimes in different directions) for its entire length of over a mile and travels in an S(E) to N(W) direction, I would think that it’s a no brainer that the Notting Hill end was the bottom, wouldn’t you? After all, that end is its most southern extremity, but, spoiler alert, Notting Hill is on a hill, thus making it the top end. But wait it also starts to rise at its westerly end and is 6ft. higher than Notting Hill.

According to the previously described numbering regulations surely its numbering should start in Notting Hill (nearest to central London), but its located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea whose town hall is directly south of Portobello Road.

Some of you might think this slight nit-picking, or perhaps slightly obsessional, but when your job is to get people as efficiently as possible to their destination, these things really are important.

Incidentally, the numbering of Portobello Road starts at the eastern end at Notting Hill with the odds on the left.

So it would appear, the top of the road has the bottom numbers, with the odds on the left. There I’m glad I’ve cleared that up.