Street Names

NAMED STREETS: I first became seriously interested in photographing street names through doing family history research. Census records tell us where our long forgotten ancestors lived, and often the street names themselves tell us much about the history of the area in which they lived. My own father was born and brought up in a two-up and two-down terraced house in Fort Road, Bermondsey. I have never visited the place or seen the house, which I believe no longer exists, but the name of the road has a significant resonance in relation to the stories that my father told me of his childhood in the streets of Bermondsey. If there ever was a ‘fort’ to give the road its name, then any evidence of it has long since gone.

Behind many street names there is often such a hidden history. The street in which I currently live derives its name from the long lost industrial buildings which dominated the local landscape. The road name and others nearby are all that is left of this industrial past, in what is now a quiet residential area. Likewise other road names can refer to ancient trades and tradesmen, events and historical figures, rights and rituals, battles and achievements that are commemorated in the given road name. Sometimes, of course, the etymology of a street name can be lost in the mists of time.

Street names can derive from the particulars of the geographical location and/or the local history, but can also reflect national events (hence the proliferation of royal roads or those commemorating significant national figures). In residential developments the names of streets are assigned by the local council, usually in conjunction with the property developer, and within a development there may be a thematic approach to the names. In my own local borough there are groups of street names referencing the historic ascent of Everest, the shipping areas surrounding the UK, native birds and trees.  Attempts at renaming roads, say, for instance, to make them more ‘politically correct’ are however often met with stiff opposition from local residents who wish to preserve the historical connection, rather than ‘whitewash’ the past. Words matter and these names add to the rich tapestry of our lives, and our collective history, warts an’ all.

The street name can also carry many ‘hidden’ messages about the people and the place, but then so does the sign itself, through its condition, style and general state of repair or disrepair. The setting and immediate environment has something to say to those who take the interest to ‘read’ the body language of the signage and the way that it declares itself to the passing world.

Unnamed Street Gallery

Unnamed Street Gallery

Named Streets Gallery A - Z

THE Named Streets Gallery

Street Names: A series of themed collections in e-book format


12: TRADES (in progress)


14: ROAD-STREETS (in progress)

15: SIZE & SHAPE (in progress)


16: OLD & NEW (in progress)

17: MINERALS (in progress)

18: COAST (in progress)

19: NAMES (in progress)

20: SENTIMENT (in progress)