City Thameslink is, of course, the worst name for a railway station ever devised. It’s so bad, it actually manages to be bad in about eight different ways, to whit:
- Including route names in station is not something we’ve ever gone in for in London, so in context looks really weird.
- The only exception is when you’re trying to distinguish one station building from another near neighbour, in what is in effect the same station in two or more bits (e.g. West Hampstead Thameslink).
- But there is no other station called City.
- When there was a station called City, it was Bank.
- Bank is nowhere near City Thameslink.
- City Thameslink is one of, I think, 13 stations in the City of London, so it’s not a very specific or helpful name.
- It’s also right at one edge of the City of London, so for most of the City of London it’s not the station you want
- Even if you’re arriving on Thameslink itself, there are two other stations that serve the City (Blackfriars and, a few metres over the border into Islington, Farringdon), so you can literally be travelling to the City on Thameslink and still not want your final destination to be City Thameslink, and at that point isn’t it clear it’s a bloody stupid name?
There are probably more, but time is short and we should get on.
Anyway. The awfulness of the name wouldn’t really bother me – I mean, most metro stations are festooned with terrible names, and London is no exception (Tower Gateway my bloody arse) – except it’s our local station. It’s mere moments from CityMetric towers: I have to walk past it, and see the name mocking me, every single day.
So: I’ve given rather a lot of thought to what it could be called instead. This list, compiled under the misguided impression that writing it down would make me look more not less sane, is the result.
1. Fleet – The station is basically next to the course of London’s greatest lost river, which runs under what is now Farringdon Street.
2. Fleet Valley – Ditto.
3. Fleet Street – Is nearby, and while I have serious and principled objections to name stations after streets, let alone streets they are not even situated on, it’s an iconic London area name, and a damn sight better than City Thameslink.
4. Fleet Place – Okay, that’s the name of a private office complex that happens to sit on top of the station, but still: beats the status quo.
5. Holborn Viaduct – The name of one of the old stations City Thameslink replaced, as well as one of the streets it opens out onto it.
6. Viaduct – The same, but funkier - like Temple. Or Bank!
7. Ludgate Circus – A nearby road junction. (NOTE: The first draft of this claimed it as the name of another dead station on the site, but somebody pointed out that was Ludgate Hill. Curses. Anyway, re-numbering is a lot of effort, so on with the show:)
8. Ludgate – The same, but funkier – like Embankment.
9. Ludgate Viaduct – Best of both worlds!
10. Old Bailey – Parallels the station, cool name.
11. Limeburner Lane – Next to the station, and okay, it’s another street name, but pretty, no?
12. Newgate – Another long vanished City gate, slightly to the north of Ludgate.
13. Ludgate & Newgate – Since the station has one entrance by the site of each, why not have both?
14. Ludgate-Newgate – Since the station has one entrance by the site of each, why not have both, with Parisian punctuation?
15. New/Lud – Okay, I’m reaching now.
16. Ludnew – Scratch that, it sounds like a Welsh seaside resort.
17. Snow Hill – Yet another dead station on roughly the same site, plus the name of the original tunnel, plus Birmingham’s got a Snow Hill station so why can’t we?
18. St. Brides – Okay, this is a serious suggestion: it’s the name of a lovely old church just west from the station across Ludgate Circus.
19. St. Sepulchre – Another church, this one on Newgate Street, just east of the station.
20. Greyfriars – The name of the ruins slightly beyond St Sepulchre; it’s actually closer to St. Paul’s Tube, but I’m sure that having adjacent stations called Blackfriars and Greyfriars can’t possibly go wrong.
21. City West – D.C Metro style: okay it’s ugly, but at least it’s factual.
22. Western Wall – Prettier than City west, and while I haven’t Googled the name I’m pretty sure there are no disputed places called Western Wall in any other cities, so I’m fairly confident that this name is not problematic.
By this point I was starting to struggle (look, I’d come up with 22 different alternative names so don’t you bloody judge me). So I did what people in the grip of some madness or other have often done, and asked Stephen Bush.
He initially suggested St Paul’s, which wasn’t really in the spirit of the exercise, and more to the point actually sort of was the station’s name for its first few months: when the station opened in 1990, it was briefly known as St. Paul’s Thameslink. In 1991, British Rail renamed it on the grounds it’s actually quite a long way from St. Paul’s Underground station, and that’s how we ended up in our current mess.
Anyway. From that, between us, Stephen and I came up with the following:
23. St. Paul’s Churchyard – Sort of near it.
24. St. Paul’s South – Because it is.
25. St. Paul’s West – Because it is.
26. Upper Blackfriars
27. Lower Farringdon
28. Upper Blackfriars & Lower Farringdon – Trollolololol.
29. Court & Chancery – “It’s sort of near those things, isn’t it?”
30. Cathedral – Ditto.
31. Museum of London – “It’s nowhere near the Museum of London!” “Look, you didn’t say the names had to be helpful...”
Anyway. The point, I hope, is clear: it is almost impossible to come up with a name for the station that lies between Blackfriars and Farringdon on the Thameslink route that is actually worse than City Thameslink.
Except for Ludnew.