Meadow Close? There’s no meadow here.

Meadow Lane. Orchard Way. Skylark Close.

Flickr – Alex Pepperhill

You’d want to live there wouldn’t you. Until you realised that these are all housing development place names that describe nature that is no longer able to exist in these locations. Meadows have been replaced by decking, apples trees by lamp posts and as for the skylarks, well they’re irreplaceable.

Did you know that cities may have lost as much as 50% of their green garden space over the past two decades?

More place name misnomers

Loch Lomond Way. Snowdon Close. Windermere Way.

Flickr, Mark Hughes

It’s possible every town in the UK has a street called Windermere. But have you ever thought about how strange (and perhaps unhelpful) our habit of naming streets after far away places is?

My own home would be an example but I didn’t choose its name.

Housing estate adventures

Some of these mislocating street names have made me laugh so much I thought I’d share them with you. I’ve even considered an appropriately (or inappropriately) clad expedition to take in a few of them. Perhaps to boost my adventures by train list I could…

Camp at the edge of Loch Lomond Way in Peterborough (well it is right next to the East of England Showground).

Climb to the top of Ben Nevis Road in Weymouth (and reach a grand height of 41 metres above sea level).

Take a walk up Hellvellyn Close (just 500 metres from the M25).

Are you sure this is the right river?

Our street naming culture isn’t our only cause of place name confusion.

Once you start looking you’ll find lots of places with the same name. Did you know for example that we have,

  • Nine rivers called ‘Avon’?
  • At least three hills called Pen y fan?
  • A Bridgwater and some Bridgewaters?
  • St Ives in Cornwall, Dorset and Cambridgeshire?
  • Far more Richmonds than anyone could need?

Of course the above place name doppelgangers have all come about because they describe their location.

  • Avon = river
  • Pen y fan = top peak
  • Bridgewater = bridge water (easy really)
  • St Ives = the patron saint of lawyers
  • Richmond = strong hill

Wyre Piddle. Sheepwash. Twatt.

It’s a shame our modern street namers aren’t more creative because we have a fabulous tradition of descriptive place names here in the UK. The church of St Mary on the Hill would be a good example (Llanbrynmair).

I guess Tesco Road, Concrete Street and Treeless Avenue just don’t have the right ring to them.


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