16 things we learned from a list of every single road name in Great Britain

"The Street With No Name" in Levenshulme, which sadly isn't on the list because it doesn't actually have a name.

1) There are about 790,000 roads with names in England, Scotland and Wales.

The Ordnance Survey Open Names database lists 788,340 roads with a name, from Aachen Way in Halifax to Zurich Gardens in Bramhall.

2) The most common suffix in a road name is, unsurprisingly, ‘Road’

But only a fifth of roads (about 160,000) are called “Something Road”: 15 per cent are Closes, 10 per cent are Streets, 8 per cent are Lanes and 6 per cent are Avenues.

3) The most popular road name in the UK is probably what you would have guessed it would be

Drumroll please for....

“High Street”

...of which there are 2,453. Followed by Station Road (2,023), Church Lane (1,868), Church Street (1,521) and Mill Lane (1,318). This finally, conclusively proves that trains are better than Jesus AND mills.

4) The road with the longest name is in the New Forest

Congratulations, “Bolderwood Arboretum Ornamental Drive”: you did it!

(Not counting ‘names’ that include bracketed or other alternative names. Or ‘Woodpecker Crescent Woodpecker Crescent’ in Burgess Hill, which is presumably an error rather than some quirky bit of Sussex-based self-referentialism.)


5) The road with the shortest name is in Somerset

Rye, a road in the village of Puriton in Somerset, unexcitingly named after the green thing it runs past.

It does, debatably, have some competition: the MediaCity complex in Salford is so trendy that it has colours instead of road names, which means there’s a road listed under the name “Red” in the Ordnance Survey database.

There’s also an “Alt” in Widnes but that’s an abbreviation for “Alternate” which is a very normal thing to name a road. Good job, Widnes.

6) There are places with plenty of roads, but very few Roads

As noted in CityMetric only last week, the City of London may be the most famous example of a place with “no roads” (i.e. no roads named Somethingorother Road; although sadly this is no longer technically true, curse your eyes, Goswell Road).

One posited explanation is that incorporating the word Road into a road name is a modern enough concept that the layout of the City predates it.

7) The second most roadless place in the UK sits at the other end of urban history

In Milton Keynes, only 4 per cent of named roads are Roads. When the town was laid out in the 1960s it was decided the horizontal roads of its innovative grid system would be Ways, and the vertical roads Streets: but the majority of the roads are actually the smaller suburban Closes, Courts, Places & Drives that lie within the box of each grid.

No, this is very interesting actually.

Okay, fine.

8) Fanny Hands Lane

LOL! Image: Chris/Geograph/creative commons.

9) If you think Milton Keynes has an overly methodical road naming scheme, check out this estate near Southampton

Image: Google Maps.

Roads that run one way are A Avenue, B Avenue, C Avenue, D Avenue, E A… you get the idea. Roads that run the other are 1st Street, 2nd Street and so on. I'm coming up, so you better get this party started!

10) Scotland is the home of the Place

For example, “Place” is the most common suffix in East Kilbride, appearing in 17 per cent of road names. It’s also in more than 10 per cent of the road names of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

11) There’s a North/South divide between Streets and Roads

Obligatory map:

 

 

There are more Streets than Roads in much of the North: Oldham and Burnley are more than 45 per cent Street. Meanwhile on the south coast, Bournemouth only has one. And it’s not even a very good one.

 

Orchard Street in Bournemouth. Cowabunga! Image: Chris Downer/Geograph/creative commons.

12) Blackpool is 30% Avenues

An avenue is usually a road with lots of trees. This randomly selected avenue in Blackpool has hardly any:

Image: Google Maps.

What’s up, Blackpool? What did you do with all the trees?

13) Gateshead is 18% Gardens

Maybe that’s what the Gates are for!!!!! HA HA.

14) There’s no road called ‘The Road’

But there are 595 “The Street”s and 578 “The Avenue”s. What a creative island we are.

15) Where we’re going, we don’t need roads

Image: Google Maps.

 

16) There’s a road called “Burnt Dick Hill”

Image: Google Maps.

Ow.

Ed Jefferson works for the internet and tweets as @edjeff.

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“A story of incompetence, arrogance, privilege and power”: A brief history of the Garden Bridge

Ewwww. Image: Heatherwick.

Labour assembly member Tom Copley on a an ignominious history.

The publication last week of the final bill for Boris Johnson’s failed Garden Bridge has once again pushed this fiasco into the headlines.

As well as an eye-watering £43m bill for taxpayers for this Johnsonian indulgence, what has been revealed this week is astonishing profligacy by the arms-length vehicle established to deliver it: the Garden Bridge Trust. The line by line account of their spending reveals £161,000 spent on their website and £400,000 on a gala fundraising event, amongst many other eyebrow raising numbers. 

Bear in mind that back in 2012, Johnson promised that the bridge would be entirely privately funded. The bridge’s most ardent advocate, Joanna Lumley, called it a “tiara for the Thames” and “a gift for London”. Today, the project would seem the very opposite of a “gift”.

The London Assembly has been scrutinising this project since its inception, and I now chair a working group tasked with continuing our investigation. We are indebted to the work of local campaigners around Waterloo as well as Will Hurst of the Architects Journal, who has brought many of the scandals surrounding the project into the open, and who was the subject of an extraordinary public attack by Johnson for doing so.

Yet every revelation about this cursed project has thrown up more questions than it has answers, and it’s worth reminding ourselves just how shady and rotten the story of this project has been.

There was Johnson’s £10,000 taxpayer funded trip to San Francisco to drum up sponsorship for the Thomas Heatherwick garden bridge design, despite the fact that TfL had not at that point even tendered for a designer for the project.

The design contest itself was a sham, with one of the two other architects TfL begged to enter in an attempt to create the illusion of due process later saying they felt “used”. Heatherwick Studios was awarded the contract and made a total of £2.7m from taxpayers from the failed project.


Soon after the bridge’s engineering contract had been awarded to Arup, it was announced that TfL’s then managing director of planning, Richard de Cani, was departing TfL for a new job – at Arup. He continued to make key decisions relating to the project while working his notice period, a flagrant conflict of interest that wouldn’t have been allowed in the civil service. Arup received more than £13m of taxpayer cash from the failed project.

The tendering process attracted such concern that the then Transport Commissioner, Peter Hendy, ordered an internal audit of it. The resulting report was a whitewash, and a far more critical earlier draft was leaked to the London Assembly.

As concerns about the project grew, so did the interventions by the bridge’s powerful advocates to keep it on track. Boris Johnson signed a mayoral direction which watered down the conditions the Garden Bridge Trust had to meet in order to gain access to further public money, exposing taxpayers to further risk. When he was hauled in front of the London Assembly to explain this decision, after blustering for while he finally told me that he couldn’t remember.

David Cameron overruled the advice of senior civil servants in order to extend the project’s government credit line. And George Osborne was at one point even more keen on the Garden Bridge than Johnson himself. The then chancellor was criticised by the National Audit Office for bypassing usual channels in order to commit funding to it. Strangely, none of the project’s travails have made it onto the pages of the London Evening Standard, a paper he now edits. Nor did they under his predecessor Sarah Sands, now editor of the Today Programme, another firm advocate for the Garden Bridge.

By 2016 the project appeared to be in real trouble. Yet the Garden Bridge Trust ploughed ahead in the face of mounting risks. In February 2016, despite having not secured the land on the south bank to actually build the bridge on, nor satisfied all their planning consents, the Trust signed an engineering contract. That decision alone has cost the taxpayer £21m.

Minutes of the Trust’s board meetings that I secured from TfL (after much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Trust itself) reveal that weeks beforehand Thomas Heatherwick had urged the trustees to sign the contract in order to demonstrate “momentum”.

Meanwhile TfL, which was represented at board meetings by Richard de Cani and so should’ve been well aware of the mounting risks to the project, astonishingly failed to act in interests of taxpayers by shutting the project down.

Indeed, TfL allowed further public money to be released for the project despite the Trust not having satisfied at least two of the six conditions that had been set by TfL in order to protect the public purse. The decision to approve funding was personally approved by Transport Commissioner Mike Brown, who has never provided an adequate explanation for his decision.

The story of the Garden Bridge project is one of incompetence, arrogance and recklessness, but also of privilege and power. This was “the great and the good” trying to rig the system to force upon London a plaything for themselves wrapped up as a gift.

The London Assembly is determined to hold those responsible to account, and we will particularly focus on TfL’s role in this mess. However, this is not just a London issue, but a national scandal. There is a growing case for a Parliamentary inquiry into the project, and I would urge the Public Accounts Committee to launch an investigation. 

The Garden Bridge may seem like small beer compared to Brexit. But there is a common thread: Boris Johnson. It should appal and outrage us that this man is still being talked about as a potential future Prime Minister. His most expensive vanity project, now dead in the water, perhaps serves as an unwelcome prophecy for what may be to come should he ever enter Number 10.

Tom Copley is a Labour member of the London Assembly.