Solving the mystery of London Tube Station names
November 28, 2012 Leave a Comment
The other day I had the chance to flick through the book ‘What’s in a Name?: Origins of Station Names on the London Underground’ and decided to cherry pick a few of my favourites. Not because they may have been the most interesting but because they have finally answered the question that was always in my head when I passed through these stations… ‘”Why is it called that?’
Elephant and Castle
Named after an old tavern with a frontage featuring a gilt model of an elephant and castle. The model is thought to have originated from the badge of the knife making trade association Cutler’s Company.
So, sadly nothing to do with an actual elephant living in a castle like in the TV series Babar.
Probably derived from Pickadilly Hall, the popular name of a 17th century house built near Windmill street by a retired tailor who made his fortune selling ‘pickadillie’ collars. A famous circus was a popular attraction throughout the 19th century hence the station being called Piccadilly Circus when it opened in 1906.
Nice to know that the naming of this did involve a circus, shame it’s not still around in the area today though I am sure it would only make the traffic problems that much worse.
The unusual name derives from a famous pub, built in 1804, which was originally known as the Swiss Tavern due to it having been built in the traditional Swiss chalet style. The name later changed to Swiss Cottage, and when the Tube was extended to this part of London in the 1930′s, the new station took on the Swiss Cottage moniker.
A quaint little story and as the public house still stands, it might be worth a visit.
Named after a victorious battle in Calabria where, in 1806, Sir John Stuart had defeated the French at Maida in Italy.
Always good to commemorate one of our numerous victories over the French.
Seven Sisters ?
Seven Sisters refers to seven elm trees which stood near Page Green, where the Seven Sisters Road (built 1831-1833), joined the old Ermine Street.
I was hoping for a grand tale that involved seven sisters but alas once again reality is not as interesting as what our own imaginations can conjur.
There are over 270 stations on the underground and each one has a story behind it, whether it’s mundane or interesting it’s always nice to know when you pass through the station.