Here are 31 better names for City Thameslink, the worst name for a railway station ever devised

The offending station. Image: Sunil060902/Wikimedia Commons.

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.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites

Want more of this stuff? Follow CityMetric on Twitter or Facebook



The history of Brick Lane Mosque tells the story of the East End’s immigrant past

Brick Lane Mosque. Image: Lemur12.

There’s a mosque a short walk from Whitechapel station on Brick Lane, one of the many that serve the large Bengali population who live in the East End. Originally called the London Great Mosque (“Jamme Masjid” in Bengali), it is now known only as the Brick Lane Mosque, following the building of much larger Islamic centres around London, such as one nearby on Whitechapel Road.

High above the separate entrances for men and women on a stone sundial are carved the Latin words “Umbra Sumus”. These words and the date above them betray the long history of the building that has stood unassumingly on the corner of Fournier Street and Brick Lane for almost 250 years. A building housing the religions of the successive waves of immigrants, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim, who have defined the East End and London itself for hundreds of years.

The building was originally built in 1743 as a church by the French Huguenots who settled in London after fleeing religious persecution in France. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes, by the French King Louis XIV in 1685, saw the rolling back of hard won civil rights for Protestant religious minorities and their subsequent emigration from France. Those that came to London settled in the Brick Lane area and a thriving weaving industry developed. When this declined due to industrialisation in the north of England, the Huguenots moved West, contributing to the large French population in Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Hammersmith, and Fulham. So their church on Brick Lane fell out of use.

The poverty of the area, as well as its proximity to the London docklands, meant that it remained the starting point for the historic stream of immigrants to the city. Following the Huguenots, Ashkenazi Jews fleeing the pogroms of Eastern Europe and Russia settled in the area during the 19th century.

Earlier the building on the corner of Fournier Street had briefly been used as a mission for the evangelical Society for Propagating Christianity among the Jews, an indigenous attempt to convert the immigrant community to the native religion. This was a short-lived and unsuccessful endeavour and the building soon became the main point of worship for the Jewish community, the “Great Synagogue”. Just as the Huguenots left before them, the new residents of Brick Lane and its surrounding area eventually moved out of the East End towards the leafy suburbs of North London.

Only four of the 150 synagogues that were built in Tower Hamlets remain today and the Great Synagogue on Brick Lane was one of those lost to history. The building was repurposed as a mosque for the Bengalis who inherited this part of London from the Jewish community. The current residents of Brick Lane mostly immigrated from Bangladesh after the country gained its independence from British colonial rule in 1947. Seeking work or fleeing the terrible war for secession from West Pakistan, which saw the creation of the modern state of Bangladesh, the ethnically Bengali community in Tower Hamlets grew rapidly in the second half of the 20th Century and now make up 32 per cent of the borough's total population.

Immigrants from across the world have thrived in the East End in spite of intense poverty and racism from those who came before. It was Jewish immigrants who stood against Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists on Cable Street. Next door to the nearby East London Mosque on Whitechapel Road you can find Altab Ali Park, named after a young Bengali man who was murdered in a racially motivated attack during racial tension in the East End.

The pain and success of those who have lived in the East End is written on the streets of London, in the architecture, monuments, shops and lasting communities now scattered across the city. Each wave of immigrants leaving a shadow of themselves on the city long after they have gone and their children have become Londoners. Umbra Sumus means “We are shadows”; prophetic words carved in a long-dead language, by people who themselves died long ago.