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Odd UK street names and their meanings

This is a trip through Britain’s oddly-labelled street names, from gruesome tales to foodie heaven — but not every name carries the meaning you might expect.

Spine-chilling street names

The British have always been fascinated with gruesome stories; none more so than street namers. Dead Mans Walk is a footpath in Oxford, whose name derives from a Civil War haunting of an executed soldier. Corpse Way, in Wakefield, is just one of many UK streets with a very practical purpose — to transport corpses. Dead Mans Hole refers to a mortuary underneath London’s Tower Bridge. There’s also a Deadmans Hole Lane in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

But not all grim-sounding road names are as they seem. Cut Throat Lane (there are quite a few dotted around the country) refers to a cut-through, or a narrow pass. And Squeeze Guts Alley, in Truro, Cornwall, points to the narrow alley ways for which the city is famous, rather than for something far more terrifying.

A Hobbit’s quest to Bristol

There and back again lane, Bristol

Photo from Flickr by Shrinkin' Violet

There-And-Back-Again Lane conjures up images of adventure and fantasy fiction, if you’re a Tolkien fan that is — it was the original full title of The Hobbit. However, among the oddly-named streets of Bristol, which include Cheese Street, Little Paradise and Christmas Steps, lies a short, narrow dead-end alley full of commercial waste bins — yuk. True to its literal meaning, as soon as you’re there, you’ll want to go back again.

The Hoff’s on a crusade

Knightrider Street, in London, was not named after the cult Eighties show starring David Hasslehoff and a talking car. Instead, it’s said to be labelled after the route taken by knights on their journey from the Tower of London to Smithfield, to take part in tournaments.

The streets of London

London is full of odd street names detailing its rich and dense history, from Bird-in-Bush Road to Bleeding Heart Yard, Kitcat Terrace and Savage Gardens, not to mention the roads referring to religion and centuries of trading, like Cheapside (meaning ‘market place’). You can even take a trip down Memory Lane in Camberwell.

Street food

London is also full of food-related street names, as, it seems is the rest of the country. Breakfast springs to mind at Bacon Link (Romford) and The Butty, in Basingstoke, Hampshire; Leg of Mutton Road (Glastonbury) drums up thoughts of Sunday lunch. But, in Hallaton, Market Harborough, Hare Pie View refers to the ancient Leicestershire traditions of Bottle-kicking and the Hare Pie Scramble, dating back to the iron age. For those with a sweet tooth, we could finish off our street food trip by passing through The Custards, Lyndhurst, Hampshire, or any number of Quality Streets, from Scotland to the West Midlands. (Okay, this last one is another red herring, thanks to Nestlé.)

Ditch the laughter

Drivers in London weren’t laughing when Ha-Ha Road, in south-east London was closed during the Olympic traffic chaos. A ha-ha is actually a walled, sloping ditch which stops livestock straying across boundaries. There is a ha-ha near the road of the same name in Shooters Hill, Woolwich (that’s no joke).

Find more addresses

Whether their street name raises a smile or not, you can find anyone in the UK with our Address Finder tool, which uses data from the UK Telephone Directory and the Electoral Roll, even if you can only remember certain parts of it.

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