Destinations Magazine

Streets Ahead

By Lwblog @londonwalks

Streets AheadStreets Ahead is the occasional column from London Walks' Pen David Tucker…
What's in a name? Juliet* asks.
Quite a bit actually.
A case in point: the famous London placename, Oxford Street.
The first ever mention of that thoroughfare as Oxford Street was in 1725. Before that it was always Oxford Road or Tyburn Road.
The "quite a bit" that's in that tiny London factoid is that London didn't get out there until well into the 18th century. Before that - well, Oxford Street wasn't Oxford Street because it wasn't in London.
The rule of thumb being: streets are urban, roads are country cousins. No city no streets. No London (out there), no Oxford Street.
Until 1725. The name pitching up then is a form of urban carbon dating - it tells us that London was just "connecting" with that country road in 1725 - or thereabouts.
A placename, a date and a little bit of analysis and hey presto a little bit of London history - a bit of its timeline - snaps into focus.
But hey that's what you'd expect. The Greek root of the word analysis means, after all, "release".
"Analyse" the coming together of the placename Oxford Street and the date 1825 and you're necessarily going to "release" a smidgeon of understanding about London's past.
*Yes, that Juliet. Shakespeare's Juliet.
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