diamond geezer

 Sunday, February 07, 2021

What are the tube map's blandest station names?

I was mulling over this question the other day on a walk passing Forest Gate, Manor Park and Woodgrange Park.

Forest Gate is a doubly bland name, there being several forests with many gates.
Manor Park is a doubly bland name, there being many manor houses since replaced by parks.
Woodgrange Park is triply bland, combining a place with trees, a farmstead and a place with grass.

Obviously these names aren't bland if you look into their derivations. Forest Gate relates to Epping Forest which once stretched this far south and had a gate to keep livestock in. Woodgrange Farm, meaning 'farm in a forest clearing', is first recorded in 1198 under the ownership of Stratford Abbey. Manor Park is named after Woodgrange Manor, the large farmhouse that medieval farmstead grew into. But for today's post I'm not interested in how interesting the backstory is, I'm just looking at how bland the names look today.

I reckon these are the 20 blandest station names on the tube map, at least when taken a face value.

The three blandest station names on the tube map

Green Park: All parks are green, almost by definition, so describing a park as a green park is as bland as it gets. In real life yes, it's a royal park which makes it interesting, but that's not our concern. Instead bemoan the individual who renamed Upper St James’s Park as Green Park in 1746, supposedly because it was a flower-free meadow at the time. Dead bland, indeed inexcusably so.

Wood Green: What other colour is a wood going to be? (other than in winter, obviously). The wood in question is long-lost Tottenham Wood, this originally being a clearing on the edge, but again it's only the headline wording I'm interested in. It is in many ways astonishing that London has an important town centre named after something so nationally ubiquitous.

Wood Lane: And just how many of these are there across the country? Even in London, if you hit the outskirts, numerous country lanes pass through numerous woods. I've chosen Wood Lane in preference to Wood Street because a street through a wood would be unusual, whereas lanes through woods are ten a penny.

The rest of the Top Ten Blandest Station Names On The Tube Map

Bank: We all know that this refers to the nation's pre-eminent bank, The Bank of England, a financial body with a long and fascinating history. But I'm ignoring that. Instead consider the vast number of London streets with banks on them, even after so many branches have closed, so a station of this name could be pretty much anywhere.

Church Street: Streets with churches are even more ubiquitous, especially if you include all possible denominations. The tube would never have called a station Church Street but the DLR might have done and the trams in Croydon actually do.

Monument: They don't come much bigger than the monument to the Great Fire of London, the Monument, but monuments to famous people and other events of historic importance are all over the place, especially in central London.

Northwood: All woods are north of somewhere, it's a geographic certainty. In this case the name's Old English and the wood is north of Ruislip, but who'd guess that just by looking at the exceptionally bland name?

Oakwood: It's a rare English wood that doesn't have an oak tree somewhere, even if long replaced by streets, houses and gardens. This one started out as Oak Farm, then Oak Lodge, then Oakwood Park, but the end result is ubiquitous.

Old Street: Forget that you know this location as a busy road interchange. Instead muse on the fact that what is no longer an old street is still described as such, as could be innumerable old streets across the country.

Woodside: Back to the trams for this tiptop example of anywhereness - a location beside a wood. It wasn't even a very big wood, just large enough to give its name to a Croydon hamlet which happened to be bypassed by a railway in 1871.

The next 10 blandest station names on the tube map

All Saints: There are over a thousand All Saints churches in England and at least 40 in London. If you're going to name a station after a church at least name it after an uncommon one, like St Pancras, rather than the utterly commonplace All Saints.
Archway: The neighbourhood is indeed Archway, named after the Archway Bridge over the Great North Road. But there are many other types of archway, from churches to tunnels and passageways to porches so the name's truly nothing special.
Borough: Every station in London is in a borough (except pedantically those in the City of London), so this is a really unhelpful name.
Bush Hill Park: A park on a hill with a bush on it. There are dozens of those.
Embankment: We know this refers to the Victoria Embankment, but any raised waterside boundary is an embankment and this name defines nothing unique.
Forest Hill: A forest on a hill is a familiar feature, admittedly more frequent outside the capital but all sorts of London suburbs could have ended up with this name.
London Fields: Fields are rare in London these days, except on the outskirts, but almost every residential London neighbourhood was once a field.
Northfields: Every field lies north of somewhere, in this case Brentford, but could've been anywhere.
Southfields: Every field lies south of somewhere, in this case Wandsworth, but could've been anywhere.
Temple: There are many temples across London, from buried Roman remains to Hindu dazzlers, so this name is curiously unspecific.

I reckon these are the 20 blandest station names on the tube map, at least when taken at face value.

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