At the weekend, I was on an Underground train which stopped at East Ham and at Aldgate East. I started wondering about these two constructions.
It is easy enough to gather data from a map index. Here are names of stations, former stations, and tram stops in the London area, which contain a direction. In each category the heading gives the total number, and they are classified into the Aldgate East, East Ham and Eastcote patterns.
- Bromley North, Chessington North, Clapham North, Hertford North, Watford North
- North Acton, North Dulwich, North Ealing, North Greenwich, North Harrow, North Sheen, North Wembley, North Woolwich
- Norbiton, Norbury, Northfields, Northolt, Northolt Park, Northumberland Park, Northwick, Northwood, Northwood Hills, Norwood Junction
- Bromley South, Chessington South, Clapham South, Coulsdon South, Morden South, Whyteleafe South
- South Acton, South Bermondsey, South Croydon, South Ealing, South Greenford, South Hampstead, South Harrow, South Kensington, South Kenton, South Merton, South Quay, South Ruislip, South Tottenham, South Wimbledon, South Woodford
- Southall, Southbury, Southfields, Southgate, Southwark, Surbiton, Sutton
- Aldgate East, Dagenham East, Ewell East, Hertford East, Hounslow East, Mill Hill East, Penge East
- East Acton, East Croydon, East Dulwich, East Finchley, East Ham, East India, East Putney
- Ewell West, Hounslow West, Kentish Town West, Penge West, Watford West
- West Acton, West Brompton, West Byfleet, West Croydon, West Drayton, West Dulwich, West Ealing, West Finchley, West Ham, West Hampstead, West Harrow, West India Quay, West Kensington, West Norwood, West Ruislip, West Sutton, West Wickham
- Westbourne Park, Westcombe Park, Westferry, Westminster
And here are some other variants of names occurring in the above lists:
- Acton Central/Main Line/Town, Byfleet & New Haw, Clapham Common/High Street, Dagenham Dock/Heathway, Harrow-on-the-Hill, High Street Kensington and Kensington Olympia, Hampstead, Hampstead Heath, Hounslow Central, Kentish Town, Kenton, Merton Park, Mill Hill Broadway, Morden, Morden Road, Ruislip, Ruislip Gardens/Manor, Tottenham Hale, Watford, Watford High Street/Junction, Whyteleafe, Wimbledon, Woodford
So here are three questions:
- Is there any reason for the different position of the placename elements in these names?
- Is there any reason why “East” is so much less common than the others? I suspect it is because, in London, the East End has always had a bad reputation, and as a result the direction has a negative connotation.
- What is the situation in other large cities?
English placenames are often double-barrelled. Often this was because an existing Anglo-Saxon name gained an affix in Norman times or later based on who was then in possession of the manor. Thus, for example, Tooting Bec and Tooting Graveney were owned by the Abbey of Bec and the Graveney family respectively; Kings Langley and Abbots Langley were owned by the king and the Abbot of St Albans respectively. But this doesn’t explain how directions were added to the names.
The rule cannot be simple. We have Hounslow Central and East, but Finchley Central and East Finchley. Notice that “Central” always follows the placename, but this is not true for other additives such as High Street Kensington. (But note Watford High Street.)
Often names were changed when railway companies came to build stations. Sometimes this was later corrected; so Handborough near Oxford reverted to Hanborough. But the London borough of Haringey has stations at Harringay and Harringay Green Lanes. Maybe arbitrary decisions by railway companies were responsible for the phenomenon I’ve noticed here.
Someone told me recently that the rule for the numbering of London bus routes is that there is no rule, it is random. Is the same true for station names?