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
E 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...