diamond geezer

 Sunday, June 09, 2024

Having identified London's longest and shortest High Streets, I thought I'd better visit them.

London's shortest High Street
High Street
(Wembley) [50 metres]

This is no ordinary High Street, it's a dead end and it's never seen a shop. It's also located somewhere fairly familiar - in sight of Wembley Stadium just round the back of the Designer Outlet. And it's a lot more interesting if you turn up when there's a match on because it has a security guard.

The first thing that strikes you about High Street is it's on a hill, indeed this is likely how the road originally got is name. This is Wembley Hill, a 72m-high hump which would have been proper rural in 1722 when the Green Man pub opened taking advantage of the excellent vista. In the late 19th century a cluster of a dozen cottages joined it, this the aforementioned High Street, before developers moved in and created a genteel microsuburb across the surrounding slopes. High Street doesn't look terribly promising from the bottom, a steepish lane between 30s semis and a building site, but at the top is a cute little enclave that feels wonderfully un-Wembley, almost a bit Yorkshire. Parking looks like it'd be a problem.

Up the side of one house is a narrow unsigned alleyway which leads to a short terrace of five more cottages. Their front doors have footpath access only, which must confuse most delivery drivers turning up here for the first time. Keep going and you reach... aha, the grass round the back of the Green Man pub, except I found it blocked off with temporary metal fencing. The pub was busy with Rugby League fans in town for the Challenge Cup final and the smell of warm lager was unmistakeable. It turns out this alleyway is the most direct route from the pub to the stadium and I guess the railings are there to prevent fans from using High Street as a rowdy cut-through, or indeed as a semi-private spot to relieve themselves by the back fence.

I also guess the security guard at the bottom of the street is there to deter cars from driving in, this because he totally ignored me wandering in on foot, even when I started taking a suspicious number of photos. Alternatively maybe he only activated yesterday if you were wearing Wigan or Warrington colours, whereas I'd sensibly turned up in a neutral shirt. And I'd have got none of this excellent nuance if I hadn't turned up on a Saturday afternoon and seen High Street in matchday mode, just a sleepy uphill enclave that predates everything sporty about Wembley.

London's longest High Street
High Street
(Harlington) [1¼ miles]

This is no ordinary High Street either, being the main road in what's essentially a linear village. It also gets genuinely high at one point courtesy of the M4 motorway but we'll get to that. If you think of Heathrow Airport then Harlington is top right, fortunately entirely to the north so that no planes actually fly over, and fortunately the Third Runway's dead otherwise the racket here would be deafening. At the foot of High Street is a busy junction called Harlington Corner, very much in sight of touching-down Boeings, which is currently a dense forest of temporary traffic lights and draped yellow cables. It also has the first streetsign and, ah, damn, look at that.

Having gone to all the effort yesterday of saying I was only interested in perfectly-named High Streets, this one's signed as High Street Something. I guess it made sense to add the name Harlington because the entire village is strung out along it, but the suffix wasn't what I wanted to see after I'd slogged for two hours across London. It can't be London's longest High Street if it's not a High Street, indeed was it even worth turning up? I did walk it and make notes but I'm not sure I can be bothered to write them up, what would be the point, so here's a very condensed version of what I saw and perhaps you can imagine the paragraphed prose I might have turned them into.

» Starts at Best Western hotel - ugly rotunda
» Highest house number - 443, I think
» A handful of old cottages amid much suburban linear infill
» Only two streetsigns - both alas the long version
» Food options include the Harlington Tandoori and The Flying Egg cafe
» Both parish noticeboards empty
» Site of village pond was landscaped in 1977 - a minor green focus
» Reasonable parade of shops peaking with a Co-Op
» The salon is called 'Hair by Amnesia' (hahahaha) (sheesh)

Nod to target audience 1: West London Models sell mini cars, helicopters and planes. Shop has a railway layout in its window. Currently selling a 'Back To The Future v Knight Rider' Scalextric for £159.
Nod to target audience 2: Superloop route SL9 stops here - it's only one stop to Crossrail at Hayes and Harlington.
Nod to target audience 3: In the flowerbed outside the chemists is a classic 'red triangle' road traffic hazard sign. It's over 100 years old and Grade II listed.
Nod to target audience 4: The Harlington Locomotive Society (founded 1947) opens for miniature steam train rides once a month from Easter to Christmas. Their next open day is This Afternoon from 2pm-5pm and you know you want to.

Pub 1: The Wheatsheaf is closed and empty - locks changed 5/6/24
Pub 2: The Red Lion is long-closed, boarded and gutted
Pub 3: The White Hart survives and thrives (and is reputedly haunted by a dead barmaid called Alice)

» High Street suddenly diverts off to the east up a new road
» Parish church is on former alignment (flinty, locked)
» New road slowly launches over very minor stream called Frogs Ditch
» New alignment of High Street then crosses busy M4 (so is genuinely high)
» Old alignment ducks underneath M4 via grim subway
» Viaduct lands gently amid extensive lowly suburbia
» Road here appears to be called Harlington Bridge
» High Street ends by vets at traffic lights and becomes Station Road

I was fairly peeved that this particular High Street is apparently High Street Harlington, at least as far as road sign evidence goes. But is it really? When I got home I checked with the Royal Mail postcode finder and it lists addresses on this road as 'High Street' and then 'Harlington' on separate lines. I also went on Hillingdon's website to check the bin collection day, which is Monday, and they give addresses as 'High Street Hayes', which is neither 'High Street, Harlington' nor 'High Street Harlington'. Finally I doublechecked with the National Street Gazetteer and that definitely calls it 'High Street', not 'High Street Harlington', and they're the definitive record of what a UK street's officially called.

Whatever its streetsigns say it seems Harlington's High Street isn't a High Street Harlington, it's a High Street and therefore London's longest. I'm still not writing it up properly though, sorry.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan24  Feb24  Mar24  Apr24  May24  Jun24
Jan23  Feb23  Mar23  Apr23  May23  Jun23  Jul23  Aug23  Sep23  Oct23  Nov23  Dec23
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22  Oct22  Nov22  Dec22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
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 

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

twenty blogs
our bow
ian visits
broken tv
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
the greenwich wire
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
London's waymarked walks
Inner London toilet map
20 years of blog series
The DG Tour of Britain
London's most...

read the archive
Jun24  May24
Apr24  Mar24  Feb24  Jan24
Dec23  Nov23  Oct23  Sep23
Aug23  Jul23  Jun23  May23
Apr23  Mar23  Feb23  Jan23
Dec22  Nov22  Oct22  Sep22
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2023 2022
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards