Street name changes 1929-1945
I have now found 2,422 changes that took place during this period. The inspiration for this (with the kind permission of his son, Roy) was the list compiled by Fred Rayment, as used by the London Fire service in the 1940's. I have also found additional changes listed in the Geographia London Street Guide and a supplement in Bartholomew's London Pocket Atlas. Some more are from a pre-war copy of one of the first A-Z maps from the Geographers' Map Co. Ltd. (then called A to Z).
As of September 2011 the main list now comes from supplements to 'The Authentic Map Directory of London and Suburbs', published by Geographia. These all took place between 1st January 1936 and 1st July 1939.
The story of how I came by this together with Roy's fascinating introduction to Fred's list are below.
For help with finding Postal District Numbers and Area Names see this page.
In my list, 2,202 are from more than one of the sources, 132 are unique to the Authentic Map Directory, 41 are unique to Bartholomew, and 47 to the A-Z. I have resolved a few anomalies and corrected a couple of spelling mistakes. All these changes took place after 1st August 1929, none of the new names appearing in the index of my digitised map, published c1922 and I feel it is unlikely that any changes would have been made during WWII.
In October 1939 the Metropolitan Police took delivery of 2,000 copies of the 4th edition of the Authentic Map Directory of London and Suburbs. No doubt they were ordered on the outbreak of war for distribution amongst the 900 Metropolitan Police Stations. This is a large-scale, library atlas with a comprehensive index and one copy has been very kindly lent to me by Richard Farmery MBE LL.M, the Senior Facilities Manager of the Metropolitan Police Service.
First published in 1936 it has two supplements pasted onto the back cover (my own copy does not have these). The first is 'with changes to October 1937' the other is a 'Complete list of L.C.C. Street Name Changes (Second Edition) . . . from January, 1936, up to and including 1st January, 1939, with a large number of other alterations which will come into operation on 1st July, 1939.'
This copy saw extensive use and both the index and the maps have been painstakingly updated from the supplements in a very small, neat hand using red ink. All the Police Stations have been highlighted in blue or red crayon and there are a number of other, unfortunately undecipherable, marks and annotations. A number of post-war L.C.C. developments and new roads have been pencilled in. A fascinating piece of history.
Introduction to Fred's list.
With the passage of time it is of course inevitable that the names of many roads will be changed, both in the countryside and in the towns and cities, some perhaps being changed several times or more as administrative boundaries are moved, or the colour of the political map changes.
Although the changes may have originally been carried out for a variety of different reasons, the end result is nearly always the same as far as the family historian is concerned - Genealogical links tend to become very much less obvious!
Fortunately, many local reference libraries have now managed to build up quite comprehensive lists of the road name changes that have taken place in their own local areas, together with the dates upon which they were effected and this information is normally available to the researcher.
Despite this, there has always been a problem in locating records of street name changes in the London area, mainly due to its sheer size and to the difficulty in identifying the correct Authority covering the area in question, or the exact whereabouts of the records concerned.
This particular problem has now largely been resolved, thanks to some recently discovered work which had apparently been carried out in the early 1940s by a London fireman named Frederick William Rayment.
Frederick's work came about as a direct result of the fact that, during the period preceding the Second World War, the London County Council was formed, and took over many of the responsibilities that until then had been the prerogative of the numerous Borough Councils.
The new council, which became generally known as the L.C.C., inherited a situation in which many street names in its area were duplicated, triplicated or even worse. This had arisen because, although each of the Boroughs had normally used a street name only once within its own area, when these Boroughs were amalgamated to form the L.C.C., a multiplicity of many of the most popular street names became apparent.
As a result of the obvious confusion caused to the Postal Authorities and to others, the L.C.C. embarked on a very ambitious plan to eliminate all street name duplication by means of a massive street re-naming scheme lasting several decades.
Unfortunately, at the outbreak of the Second World War, the scheme was only just nearing completion, with many street name signs still bearing both their old and new names. For the emergency services, often having to navigate in the blackout through bomb damaged streets, to hurriedly reach addresses quoted by a panicking or excited member of the public, the re-naming of such streets presented a serious problem because, in the event of a name query, they could not ask further questions of their control since they were not equipped with radio at that time.
Fireman Rayment, who was the driver of a turntable escape appliance during this period, decided to try and compile a list of the street name changes which had been instituted by the L.C.C., simply in order to avoid time being wasted in searching for re-named streets. Since during the chaos of the blitz he had been called upon to serve in various different fire station areas, he decided to include the whole of the L.C.C. area when making his list.
With the help of many fire brigade colleagues too numerous to mention, a friend who worked in the G.P.O., and another friend who was employed in the planning department of the L.C.C., Fred Rayment managed to produce his list, which he then used throughout the remainder of the war.
Following his death in 1984, his house was sold and many of his possessions were placed into storage by his son Roy. It was not until late in the year 1998 that Roy began to read through his late father's papers and re-discovered the original manuscript list of the street name changes that his father had compiled nearly sixty years beforehand.
Roy quickly realised the significance of his late father's work, using it as the basis upon which to produce computer files in both Microsoft Works 4.0 and Microsoft Word 97 formats. These computer files are fully cross-referenced and can be searched by old name, new name, or postal district. The symbol # has been used to indicate cases where streets have ceased to exist as separate entities with their own names, having been amalgamated with existing streets.
Unfortunately the original manuscript list compiled by Fred Rayment bore no indications of the dates upon which each individual street name changes actually took place. None of the other people involved in providing the original information are still alive and so it is has proved rather difficult to ascertain the dates concerned, or to verify much of the original data. Despite this, a small number of the nearly two thousand entries have been randomly selected and then carefully checked, but no errors have so far been found.
As far as is known, Fred's list is the only one ever to have been produced which covers the whole of the old L.C.C.'s area, but a large number of smaller, more localised, lists have been compiled by various agencies in the past.
It is perhaps rather ironic that, with the advent of the introduction of the G.L.C., which took control over a much larger area than that which had been previously been administered by the L.C.C., the problem of the duplication of street names once again became apparent. This had of course happened once again because the outer London Boroughs, not having previously been subjected to the street naming disciplines of the old L.C.C., had made no attempt to avoid duplication of road names, either with each other or with the L.C.C.'s area. On this occasion however, the G.L.C. perhaps rather wisely decided not to embark upon a further programme of mass street name changes, although a small number of changes have subsequently been made.
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