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 first large-scale* 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. Another took place in the 1890's, after the London County Council (L.C.C.) was formed to replace the, allegedly corrupt, MBW. The next big scheme occurred between 1929-1945. A 58 page list of these changes was published by the Council in 1946, but I have been unable to find a copy.
I now have two lists. Those changes that took place between 1857-1929, taken from several editions of the "List of the Streets and Places within the Administrative County of London", published by the L.C.C. and those that took place between 1929-1945, compiled from a number of sources. 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 several 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.
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. The National Archives are now hosting a Historical Streets Project which, although in its infancy, may eventually become a very valuable resource if we all join in.
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.
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* 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...."