The UK’s towns are full of history, often reflected in their odd street names. Here’s a small collection I’ve gathered on my travels around the country over the last few years:
High Wiend, Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria
Appleby used to be the county town of Westmorland and mostly dates from the early twelfth century when the castle was built. Many of the street names hark back to this period, including this one. I can’t find any information on its meaning or history online but I’m assuming it’s a variation on Wind or Wynd, meaning narrow street or alley, which often crops up in northern England and Scotland.
We found we’d parked in this rather darkly-named street. ‘Gate’ is a Norse term for street and dates back to the Vikings. I’m less certain about the ‘Doom’ part but according to a piece in the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald, it translates as ‘dung’!
The Mutton Shut, Much Wenlock, Shropshire
There are several ‘shuts’ in Much Wenlock, a wonderful old town near the Welsh border whose other claim to fame is as the home of the modern Olympic Games. A shut was apparently a cobbled alleyway, often named after a nearby pub – so presumably The Mutton was a hostelry. George Shut is just around the corner.
Beemire Lane, Windermere, Cumbria
An extraordinary name for a little-known lane running through woodland on the outskirts of the town, roughly parallel to the Windermere lake shore. ‘Mire’ usually means ‘muck’ or even poo – but do bees poo? And if so, why was there so much of it here? I don’t know, but it makes a lovely walk.
Land of Green Ginger, Hull
My own personal favourite for the romantic visions of the spice trade and exotic lands it conjures up. Nobody seems to know if it was called after the stores of ginger coming in through the docks at Hull or not, and various other suggestions have been put forward, including that it was called after a Dutch family called Lindegroen. The name also inspired a 1937 children’s book by Noel Langley.