diamond geezer

 Monday, July 27, 2020

This is Mile End Road.

It's been in existence for over 900 years. The original Roman road to Colchester shifted slightly south when the first bridge was built at Bow around 1110. The new alignment earned the name Aldgatestrete and was initially a track between open fields. By Victorian times different stretches of the road had different names... sequentially Aldgate High Street, then Whitechapel High Street, Whitechapel Road, Mile End Road and Bow Road. Mile End Road is the longest of these. It begins at the junction by the Blind Beggar pub (which is, not uncoincidentally, one mile from Aldgate) and heads east beyond Mile End station. The precise end point looks peculiar today, at a minor T-junction with Coborn Road, but this was for many years the dividing line between the boroughs of Stepney and Poplar. [end of potted history]

Mile End Road is only a mile and a quarter long, but its house numbers still somehow manage to exceed 600. The highest numbered building is this chemist alongside the former St Clements Hospital, the Forward Pharmacy, which clocks in at a mighty 648. You'll have to take my word for it, alas, because I managed to turn up while some workmen were busy assembling scaffolding in front of the key digits. Beyond this the numbering starts again from scratch because that's Bow Road, which will eventually reach the 220s down by the Bow Roundabout. But 648 Mile End Road is an impressively highly-numbered address, indeed few roads in London can beat it.

I wondered how many roads in London could beat it, so I've been scouring maps (and Google) to try to locate all the roads in the capital numbered above six hundred. Here's my attempted list.

NW London
606 High Road
644 Rayners Lane
661 Uxbridge Road
666 Kingsbury Road
707 Pinner Road
736 Whitton Avenue West
738 Kenton Road
753 Field End Road
871 Victoria Road
886 Kenton Lane
915 Honeypot Lane
1027 Harrow Road
1108 Harrow Road
1390 Uxbridge Road
1564 Greenford Road
N London
748 Lordship Lane
796 Holloway Road
818 Seven Sisters Road
900 High Road
949 Green Lanes
966 Hertford Road
1000 North Circular Road
1287 Finchley Road
1541 High Road
1798 Great Cambridge Road
NE London
608 South End Road
630 Upper Brentwood Road
640 Ripple Road
675 Heathway
777 Becontree Avenue
778 Barking Road
848 Dagenham Road
861 Cranbrook Road
910 Rainham Road South
955 Longbridge Road
1043 Romford Road
1051 Forest Road
1148 Green Lane
1221 High Road
1228 Eastern Avenue
W London
628 Western Avenue
648 King's Road
654 Chiswick High Road
735 Staines Road
768 Hanworth Road
797 London Road
802 Fulham Road
844 Bath Road
1053 Great West Road
Central LondonE London
608 Old Ford Road
613 Manchester Road
648 Mile End Road
654 Roman Road
720 Wick Lane
768 High Road Leytonstone
821 Commercial Road
844 High Road Leyton
900 Lea Bridge Road
SW London
633 Upper Richmond Road
641 Kingston Road
692 Mitcham Road
832 London Road
837 Wandsworth Road
1085 Garratt Lane
S London
668 Streatham High Road
960 Brighton Road
1597 London Road
SE London
650 Downham Way
689 Rochester Way
700 Rotherhithe Street
835 Woolwich Road
899 Sidcup Road
915 Old Kent Road
985 East Rochester Way

I know I've missed some, probably plenty.
If you can help out, here's a comments box: comments

Actually, this has proved a lot more research-intensive than I was expecting.
All I can say at the moment is that these roads go up at least as far as that particular number, hopefully.
I've been using Google and also Michelin's online maps which, if you zoom in far enough, are excellent for showing house numbers. But they don't include all house numbers, only a small-ish sample, so I may not have found the highest numbers in each of the above streets.

What I think I've confirmed is that North London has more high-numbered roads than South London. Also old main roads tend to score most highly, partly because they're long, but also because their houses were originally built closer together than on fresh suburban avenues.

I believe London's highest numbered street is Great Cambridge Road which runs north through Enfield. The highest numbered property is 1798 Great Cambridge Road, which is almost at the Hertfordshire border just before the M25. The runners up are 1597 London Road in Croydon, 1564 Greenford Road in Sudbury Hill, 1541 High Road in Whetstone, 1390 Uxbridge Road in Hillingdon, 1287 Finchley Road in Golders Green, 1228 Eastern Avenue in Redbridge, 1221 High Road in Chadwell Heath and 1146 Green Lane in Barking & Dagenham.

There are even longer roads in the rest of the country. The UK record is taken by 2679 Stratford Road, a 4-bed detached house in Hockley Heath on the outskirts of Solihull. The national runners up are 2599 Coventry Road (near Birmingham Airport), 2111 Warwick Road (also in peripheral Solihull) and 2063 Hessle Road (in Hull). I uncovered these on Paul Plowman's blog in a post called UK Address Oddities, which quite frankly is massively more interesting than my offering today.

Meanwhile, back on Mile End Road, this is the highest odd-numbered property.

A modern block of flats covers the range 457-527, which is peculiar because 527 is a lot lower than 648 across the road. Before the flats were built, following wartime bomb damage, the highest odd-numbered terrace was in fact only 485. Somehow Mile End Road has contrived to have a lot more house numbers on one side than the other, which ultimately results in a difference of well over 100.

It's hard to follow why this has happened because a lot of the original properties on both sides of the road have been demolished since the road was originally numbered. For example number 1 Mile End Road still exists but the lowest numbered property on the opposite side of the road is a hairdressers at 82, all the intervening houses having been replaced by flats. Even by this stage the even numbers are 40 ahead of the odd numbers, and the discrepancy only widens the further you go, peaking with a difference of 200 by the Regents Canal before pulling back to 121 at the end of the street.

I have a historical hunch why this might have happened, which is that properties on the odd side were south-facing so more prestigious so likely to be bigger. Conversely properties on the even side were north-facing so likely to be narrower so more got squeezed in.

I wondered whether 121 was the greatest odd/even discrepancy in London... and patently it isn't. Great Cambridge Road manages to contrive a difference of 231, London Road in Hounslow exceeds 360 and Finchley Road tops 400. I believe the winner may be Uxbridge Road in Hillingdon which reaches 1390 on the even side but doesn't quite make four-figures on the odd, creating an odd/even gap of 445. The longer a road gets, the more chance its two sides will get wildly out of sync.

Update: Thanks everyone, a great group effort! It seems London has 16 different roads whose house numbers exceed 1000. Only two of these are south of the Thames. And Mile End Road isn't even in the top 50...

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