mes amis, je tiens à vous présenter, un répertoire des noms de rues de Londres

vale of health

Roughly translated as a few London street names that have taken my fancy over the past few years.  Inspired by a punter who wanted to go The Vale of Health in Hampstead yesterday, it jogged my memory that I had wanted to write about some of the stranger and more interesting street names in London.  But so precious is my time now that I’m such a media whore, I am going to start the ball rolling today and then hope that you, my adoring public, will rise to the challenge and let me know your favourite LONDON road names.  If it takes off, I may even give the directory it’s own page on this site, a rare honour.

So I’m going to start you all off with 10, in no particular order, apart from the one at the top of my list and the reason for my intro de Francais;

Petty France, SW1 – presumably derived from “Petite France” but someone else will have to fill quite why it’s called that.

Vale of Health, NW3 – now, here was a nice Twitter moment (groans all round from non Twitter users and BM who thinks Twitter is for narcissists – moi??), after tweeting that I’d done a job to the Vale of Health, one of my cabbie colleagues gave me the following information about it; “name was changed to disguise the fact that this was once a swampland and tanning pit and quite unsavoury till redeveloped”.  There, a cabbie told you, so it must be true.

Newington Butts & Newington Causeway – both quite grand sounding but sadly just part of the concrete jungle that is the Elephant & Castle traffic system.

Snowsfields, SE1 – Close to the entrance to Guy’s Hospital, a really evocative street name I’d say.

Fleur de Lis Street, E1 – another French influence, another very evocative name.

All quite close together in EC3, I can give you; Mincing Lane, sorry but it makes me think of Dick Emery every time I go down it, Seething Lane, Crutched Friars, Rood Lane and last but by no means least, London Street which just got the nod over England’s Lane for sheer arrogance, believing it can speak for the whole city.  London Street is, however, such a disappointment, being part of the one way system that takes you past the front entrance to Fenchurch Street Station.  But I’d love my address to be No. 1 London Street.  Wouldn’t you?


newman & percy passage

newman-passageRegular readers of this blog will have already picked up on my penchant for a good lamppost.  Combine that with a tucked away bit of London and I couldn’t walk past Newman Passage yesterday without having a nose around and taking a few piccies.  I will forgive myself for never having been here before, it’s not a part of town I know very well, and even given the predilection of some knowledge examiners for asking obscure places, it didn’t crop up while I was on the knowledge.

On my way back from a secret location, where me and my cab had both briefly been the centre of attention, I was really just killing time.  It was far too early to even think about working.  Have you seen how many cabs have their lights on at 11am?  So having done my good dead for the day (those papers are coming Jonathan) I was looking for somewhere to rest my brain and have a coffee.  You can’t just dive into work willy nilly can you?  These things take time and planning, recklessness can be a very dangerous thing.

But back to my passages (‘insert’ your joke here).  Make your way up Newman St, past the sorting office where there the most famous Banksy lives and you will find Newman Passage on your right.  It takes a sharpish left to become Percy Passage and suddenly you are in Rathbone Street, next to the Newman Arms Pub.  Percy Passage then continues over the road, finally emerging in Charlotte Street, next to the hotel named after the street.  If your credit hasn’t been well & truly crunched, I can recommend the Bloody Mary’s in the Charlotte Street Hotel bar.  What better way to end a bit of poking in & around London’s passages?

building of the week #2, 66 Venn St, SW4……

venn-street-iii….otherwise known as the Clapham Sorting Office, or originally the ‘Postmens Office’ built in 1902. (no research required for that bit of information, it says it on the building)  It’s quite a splendid Sorting Office though isn’t it?  Tucked away behind the High St, in the same street as the Clapham Picture House, it hides itself quite well and is one of those places that you just wouldn’t pass on a day to day basis.

I can’t tell you much more about the building or why it was built in such a grand fashion, even Google couldn’t help with this one, but whatever the reason, I think we should all be glad that it was built with a bit of style and panache.


And then, after finishing my little photo session, I headed off with the aim of going to north London to ‘do’ what should have been this weeks building of the week.  But 3 things happened; 1) I got distracted by the views of Battersea Power Station I display below, 2) I went off down Thessaly Road to try and find the recording studio that The Who used to own (something I’d heard about on Bob Elms or Danny Baker, can’t remember which) and 3) Whilst mooching around Thessaly Road I got offered a cash job from Dial-a-Cab going to Canary Wharf.  So I didn’t find the recording studio and I didn’t get to ‘do’ the building I’d originally planned on as building of the week.  But I hope you agree that 66 Venn Street is a more than adequate substitute, let’s call it the David Fairclough of buildings.  As akways, click on any photo for a bigger version.

lurking behind the houses in Clapham Manor St

lurking behind the houses in Clapham Manor St

showing itself in a better light from the railway bridge, Larkhall Rise

showing itself in a better light from the railway bridge, Larkhall Rise


a good home for a had working cab

a good home for a hard working cab

Sometimes the planets align and you just have to accept what fate throws into your path.  Out on a Sunday roam with the Cabbie family and heading towards Wellington Arch, I just had to stop and take a couple of photos of the Houndstretcher cab in Cadogan St. I’ve seen it around and about in Chelsea plenty of times but never had the chance to get up close and personal.

not a taxi, a dogxi

not a taxi, a dogxi

As a blogging London cab driver who takes a keen interest in the more obscure bits of the city, what could be better?  To my mind the combination of old cab and the pun-tastic business name just can’t be beaten.  I had always thought that the idea of a dog walking service actually run by someone in Chelsea seemed a bit strange, and a quick look at their website shows that Houndstretcher is much more than a dog walking service.  It’s a whole database of dog minders (??), walkers and carers no less.  Sadly though, the cab does not seem to appear in any part of the website.  If you’ve got it, flaunt it, I say.

found down the back of London’s sofa #1


I’m worried that I may have spoilt you all with my last post.  Interactive map?  What was I thinking?  So it’s back to basics, no frills today.  The start of a new series of posts that couldn’t be easier really, for me or you, my lovely readers/followers/stalkers.  It will go something like this;

  1. I do my day to day job as per normal.
  2. I see something.
  3. It isn’t big or clever.
  4. But it is something I think you won’t have noticed yourselves.
  5. I will take a photo of it.
  6. I will post it on here and tell you where it is.
  7. And there isn’t a 7, that’s it.

And what has the privilege of being first in this new series?  Well it’s a window.  It’s in Old Church St, SW3 just north of the junction with King’s Road.  And it has the panes at the top of the window painted to depict the months of the year.  Painted it has to be said it what can only be described as quite a naive, perhaps childish, style.  An old nursery perhaps or artists studio?  We are after all just around the corner from Chelsea Arts Club in the heart of, possibly, London’s most artsy area.  I don’t know it’s history so answers on a, calendar themed, postcard please.