diamond geezer

 Thursday, May 09, 2019

London's Least Used First Letter

Imagine a complete gazetteer of London including place names, landscape features, station names, tourist attractions, etc... the full range of locations. Now imagine flicking through the 26 alphabetical sections in its index. There'd be countless entries for certain letters, but very few for others. These, I reckon, would be the five fewest.



X

Unsurprisingly there are no locations in London beginning with X.

Indeed there are no places in the entire UK beginning with X, according to Wikipedia's strangely comprehensive List of United Kingdom locations. In London's case that's no suburbs, no stations, no roads... perhaps the odd nightclub and a dozen Chinese restaurants, but nothing of any geographical significance. That said, the index at the back of a London A-Z isn't completely blank for the letter X. There is a single entry, which is Xylon House in Worcester Park.



I went to Sutton to have a look.



Here's the building in question at the very top of Central Road. That's Sainsbury's end rather than the Waitrose end. Sainsbury's fills the entire ground floor, above which are two floors of offices (home to Keith Michaels car insurance and the team from Trinity Homecare), above which is a row of eight flats. For Worcester Park it's quite modern, very much at odds with the rest of the shopping parade in this archetypal Thirties high street. There's just one catch, the building's been renamed. It was Xylon House at the start of the 1990s, but by 1996 had become Harcros House, and today it's dull old Central House. Amusingly there's a map of the local area on the front wall beside the cashpoint, courtesy of the same company who print the A-Z, and that shows Xylon House on this very spot. But there is no Xylon House because the London A-Z is two decades out of date, so 'X' is very much the letter London forgot.

Z

London's second least used index letter has to be Z. Again no names of suburbs, boroughs, stations etc start with Z, but unlike X there is a well known London attraction that instantly springs to mind. London Zoo is as well known as they come, and is officially known as ZSL London Zoo after the Zoological Society of London. This ticks all the Z boxes, twice.



Because of this, a London bus stop exists whose name begins with Z. In fact there are four, the others being a bus stand in Thornton Heath called Zion Road and two stops called Zangwill Road off Shooters Hill Road in Kidbrooke. Zangwill Road is also one of sixteen entries in the 'Z' section of my London A-Z, confirming that there are Zs out there if you know where to look. Just not very many.

J

It's arguable whether J or Y comes third in the Least Frequent Initial Letter stakes, but I'm going with J. No London boroughs start with J, nor London constituencies, nor the names of any London suburbs. Admittedly the B12 bus goes to Joyden's Wood but that's marginally in Kent, with the Greater London boundary slicing off a small portion of the ancient woodland of the same name. As for stations, none of London's tube stations or railway stations begin with J, indeed only two stations in the whole of England start with that letter. But London can manage a disused station, so that's something, namely Junction Road.



Junction Road was one of two stations between Gospel Oak and Upper Holloway on what's now the Goblin, part of the London Overground. It opened in 1872 and was initially very popular, but once a tube station opened at Tufnell Park two minutes down the road all went rather quiet. John Betjeman was even inspired by the solitude to write a poem called Suicide on Junction Road Station after Abstention from Evening Communion in North London, which ended badly, thus.
Six on the up side! six on the down side!
    One gaslight in the Booking Hall
And a thousand sins on this lonely station—
    What shall I do with them all?
The station closed for good in 1943, was demolished in the 1950s, and all that remains is a road called Station Road branching off from Junction Road. Other roads beginning with J are more common, thanks to large number of streets named after Jacobs, Janes, Jameses, Johns and Juliets, and some are even well known like Jermyn Street in Piccadilly. The most prominent J in London is undoubtedly the Jubilee line, which is a biggie, but the absence of anywhere specifically called J-something relegates J to third place in my list.

Y

Again no stations begin with Y, either on the tube or on the railway network. Again there's one disused station, namely York Road on the Piccadilly line north of King's Cross, extant 1906-1932. Again several street names begin with Y, about half of that total being called York Road, York Street or York Something. But where Y really scores over J is that not one but two London suburbs begin with the letter, both of them in Hillingdon.



Yeading's on Hillingdon's eastern side, between Hayes and Northolt, and I blogged about the place in depth in January. It's never had a station because no railway goes within a mile of the place. Yiewsley's on the western side, adjacent to West Drayton, indeed between 1895 and 1974 its station was called West Drayton and Yiewsley. More importantly, between 1911 and 1965 the local local government area was called Yiewsley and West Drayton Urban District, which is a huge tick in the 'starts with Y' box. Poor old J, Z and X never boasted anything as big as that.

Q

There are lots of Qs in London, mainly thanks to the fact that we've had a queen not a king for the majority of the last 200 years. Queensbury and Queen's Park are actual London suburbs starting with Q, each with an actual station that begins with Q too. Further Q stations exist at Queensway, Queens Road Peckham and Queenstown Road (Battersea). Several hospitals start with Q for royal reasons, ditto reservoirs and theatres, not to mention the enormous post-Olympic park in E20. And beyond Q all the other letters of the alphabet suddenly become increasingly popular (I for Ilford, K for Kensington, V for Vauxhall, and tons and tons of Bs, Cs, Ss and Ws), so let's not go there.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream