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London Street name changes

Without change, London would not be the wonderful and dynamic place it is and has always been. Wars, Fires, Railways and slum clearances have all caused Road layouts to change. The huge redevelopments on the Isle of Dogs and at the 2012 Olympic site in Stratford are just two of the most recent examples.

Add to this the Victorian passion for regulating and bringing order by renaming streets and it becomes very difficult to trace an exact location in the past.

The street renaming scheme* was started in 1857 by the Metropolitan Board of Works (MBW), encouraged by the General Post Office, after the MBW was given control by the Metropolis Local Management Act of 1855 and Postal Districts were introduced in 1856. It carried on after the London County Council (L.C.C.) was formed to replace the, allegedly corrupt, MBW. The final changes occurred in a 'big push' between 1936-1939.

There are two lists here. Those changes that took place between 1857-1929 and those that took place between 1929-1945. They are taken from several editions of the "Names of Streets and Places in the Administrative County of London", published by the L.C.C. I have checked to make sure no entries are duplicated across the lists so you can be certain that any given change took place before or after 1st August 1929, depending on which list it is in.

Please note that these are lists of streets whose names have been officially changed, not those that no longer exist. I have found many examples of roads bulldozed or bombed out of existence that are not included or mentioned elsewhere. It is possible that the place you are looking for was knocked down and built over with an entirely new name.

If you think the place you are looking for might have been bombed during WW2, have a look at the links on the London Miscellany page.

These lists have been typed, proof read, sorted, logic checked, amended and proof read again. Every time I go cross-eyed I stop for a cup of tea but, no matter how careful I am, errors may exist in the original or have been introduced (by me or the OCR software which does not deal well with serif typeface). Several visitors have contributed valuable information or corrections, please let me know if you have anything to add.

For help with finding Postal District Numbers and Area Names see this page.

For help with finding Metropolitan Boroughs see this page.

For earlier street names see Lockie's Topography of London from 1810.

* I do not mean the first ever renaming of streets, as this letter from The Gentleman's Magazine of 1811 illustrates:-

NEW NAMING OF STREETS

"The practice of giving new names to streets appears to me to increase very much of late, and is, in my opinion, generally speaking, very absurd; it tends to make confusion, and lead people into mistakes. Many instances might be produced where such alterations in this metropolis have taken place. If I am not mistaken, a few years ago an attempt was made to alter the name of Hatton Garden to Hatton Street; and now the original name is restored....Broadway Saint Giles's now is, I believe, called High Street, Bloomsbury. Is not this being 'more nice than wise' - this place having been (and I fear still is) inhabited by a very dissolute set of people? St. Giles's became almost proverbial for a place where people of this description live...."

"Inquiring a few days ago for Salt-petre Bank (Rosemary Lane, East Smithfield), I found it was called Dock Street. Many of your readers may remember that this place was where Elizabeth Canning had been spending the day on the evening of which she was, according to her account (which I believe to be true), forcibly taken by the two men away to a house several miles from London, in which she was confined for very near a month (all but a few hours), from which she escaped, and came home to her mother's at Aldermanbury Postern on January 29, 1753."

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