diamond geezer

 Saturday, June 08, 2024

How many High Streets are there in London?

I've counted, and there are 57.

Here's a map.

Here's where they all are.
Acton, Barkingside, Barnet, Beckenham, Brentford, Bromley, Carshalton, Cheam, Chislehurst, Cowley, Cranford, Croydon, Downe, Ealing, Edgware, Farnborough, Feltham, Green Street Green, Hampton, Hampton Wick, Harefield, Harlesden, Harlington, Harmondsworth, Harrow, Hornchurch, Hornsey, Hounslow, Kingston, Mill Hill, New Malden, Northwood, Orpington, Penge, Pinner, Plaistow, Ponders End, Purley, Romford, Ruislip, South Norwood, Southall, Southgate, St Mary Cray, Stratford, Sutton, Teddington, Thornton Heath, Uxbridge, Walthamstow, Wanstead, Wealdstone, Wembley, West Wickham, Whitton, Wimbledon, Yiewsley
I believe that to be a complete list.

(If you've looked closely at my map you may be a bit suspicious by now, and something strange is definitely going on, but I stick by my list and my total)

I used the National Street Gazetteer to confirm all of this. It's a definitive list of every street in the country, its name, its classification and its status. I searched for every street called 'High Street' and I did this for every London borough. Then I looked to see where they were on the official map and transferred them to my Google map. Should be watertight.

The High Street closest to the centre of London is High Street in Harlesden, which is a teensy squidge closer than High Street in Stratford. Both are just over five miles from Charing Cross.

London's longest High Street is High Street in Harlington. This runs from just north of Heathrow Airport across the M4 towards Hayes and is 2.10km long. It's marginally longer than High Street in Hampton. This runs from the Thames along the edge of Bushy Park towards Fulwell and is 2.08km long. No other High Street exceeds a mile in length.

London's longest High Streets: Harlington (2.11km), Hampton (2.06km), Brentford (1.56km), Stratford (1.43km), Penge & Sutton (both 1.38km)

The shortest High Street is High Street in Wembley. This isn't a proper high street, it's a brief residential cul-de-sac near the stadium which just happens to head sharply uphill so I guess that's why they called it High Street. It's barely 50m long. The shortest proper High Street is in Ealing and is 170m long.

London's shortest High Streets: Wembley (50m), Ealing (170m), Harmondsworth (180m), Pinner (190m), Mill Hill (200m).

(All these measurements are taken from my Google map, not anything official, so take them all with a pinch of salt)

The borough with the most High Streets is Bromley which has 10 (Beckenham, Bromley, Chislehurst, Downe, Farnborough, Green Street Green, Orpington, Penge, St Mary Cray, West Wickham), closely followed by Hillingdon which has 8.

What's weird is that only 18 London boroughs have a High Street and 15 don't. And what's particularly weird is that every single one of London's High Streets is in Outer London. Inner London has a big fat zero.

The reason for this is that all the High Streets in Inner London are called Something High Street. For example there's Shoreditch High Street, Kensington High Street, Marylebone High Street and Deptford High Street. Whatever you might call them, their official name is Something High Street (or in one case High Street Something), never plain High Street.
Something High Streets in Inner London: Aldgate, Battersea, Borough, Bromley, Camden, Clapham, Deptford, Eltham, Fulham, Hampstead, Highgate, Homerton, Islington, Kensington, Kingsland, Lambeth, Lewisham, Marylebone, Norwood, Peckham, Plumstead, Poplar, Putney, Roehampton, Shoreditch, St Giles, St John's Wood, Stepney, Stoke Newington, Tooting, Wandsworth, Wapping, Whitechapel, Woolwich
The Inner London borough with the most Something High Streets is Tower Hamlets with 6 (Bromley, Poplar, Shoreditch, Stepney, Wapping, Whitechapel), closely followed by Wandsworth which has 5.

I'm not sure why Inner London is High-Street-free, and I wonder if it's because the GLC pre-1965 (or some other road-naming predecessor body) forbade it.

There are also a number of Something High Streets in Outer London. They're not exclusively an Inner London thing.
Something High Streets in Outer London: Barnes, Bexley, Colliers Wood, Crayford, Erith, Foots Cray, Merton, Mortlake, Sidcup, Welling
Bexley has 6 Something High Streets. The only borough without any kind of High Street whatsoever is Barking & Dagenham.

The longest Something High Streets are Lewisham High Street (1.73km), Kensington High Street (1.58km) and Plumstead High Street (1.42km). The shortest Something High Streets are Stepney High Street (160m), Foots Cray High Street (170m) and St Giles High Street (190m).

(If you're wondering where Streatham is, given it's often quoted as London's longest high street, its name is Streatham High Road so it doesn't count)

Two awkward quirks are High Street North and High Street South in Newham. One runs north from Newham Town Hall past East Ham station and the other runs south to the A13. If you combined them they'd be 3.4 miles long making them London's longest High Street, but officially they're separate roads with different names.

I've made another map with ALL the High Streets on.
The Something High Streets are in red.

(I haven't embedded it, I've given you a static image, but click on it and it'll take you through to a proper Google map)

This gives a much better spread of High Streets across the capital. But see how the red ones are almost all in the centre and all the black ones are round the edge.

Overall that's 57 proper High Streets, 43 Something High Streets, one High Street Something, one High Street North and one High Street South. You could argue that makes a total of 103 High Streets.

But if you want the proper number of High Streets in London, I've counted and there are 57.

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