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Time Travel Explorer Blog

Mapping street names: knaves, brewers, Gazza and kebabs

by Peter Watts 14. April 2011 16:03

London's street names are changing all the time. To take one example, let's look at a single street in Soho.

On John Rocque's map of 1746 it is marked quite clearly as Knaves Acre. What a fantastic name!

It is at the eastern end of Brewer Street and leads on to what is marked Old Soho Street but is now Wardour Street. Brewer Street itself was originally known as Wells Street, but was renamed after two breweries - Thomas Ayres and Henry Davis - opened there in the 1700s.

In John Strype's survey of London in 1720, he writes: 'This Knaves Acre is but narrow, and chiefly inhabited by those that deal in old Goods, and Glass Bottles.'

A name as fine as this was sadly never going to last, and by 1799, Knaves Acre had formally been renamed the far more sober and less interesting Little Pulteney Street.

Pulteney was Sir William Pulteney, a landowner who had purchased the estate in the 1660s. It was named Little Pulteney Street to differentiate it from the nearby Great Pulteney Street, then as now a nondescript street in the unfashionable end of Soho.

It remained Little Pulteney Street for a long time after: here it is seen as such in both 1830 and 1862.

 

But at some point thereafter - most likely between the wars - a decision was made to simplify London streetnames, and dozens of Littles disappeared forever. This website chronicles the vast number of lost street names we have in London. Now Knaves Acre/Little Pulteney Street is simply Brewer Street, its proud history as a place where people dealt in bottles all but wiped from the memory.

Or is it?

Rather wonderfully, it was at this exact end of Brewer Street - at No 4 in fact - that Paul Gascoigne purchased London's most infamous kebab in 1998. It was 3am, he was tired, emotional and with Chris Evans and Danny Baker, and he never played for England again.

Once a Knaves Acre, always a Knaves Acre.

London's first lido

by Peter Watts 15. March 2011 11:43

Just behind Moorfields Eye Hospital off City Road is one of those London streets with an intriguing name. It's called Peerless Street, and a clue to the origin of its name actually lies in the name of one of the streets it ajoins - Bath Street. For here in Clerkenwell, just north of Bunhill Fields and adjacent to the unmappable confusions of Old Street roundabout, sat London's first public swimming pool.

The Peerless Pool opened in 1743 and can be seen in tremendous detail on our first Time Travel Explorer map of 1746.

This was the first open air pool in London for 'all gentlemen lovers of swimming and bathing'. It was fed by a nearby spring but there was a problem. The pond had been known as 'Perilous Pond' for three hundred years thanks to the number of people that had drowned there. However, a jeweler called William Kemp was not concerned. He converted the pond into a pool 170 feet long and 50 feet wide, filled the bottom with gravel and, in a stroke of marketing geniusm renamed it Peerless Pool.

The pool was advertised as a 'place where gentlemen could without danger learn to swim' and was a great success, surviving for more than 100 years.

Here it is in 1799, almost unchanged although with encroaching buildings hinting at what was to come. The pool is actually the body of water on the right with the distinctive semi-circular knob on the end; the water marked as the pool was a fish pond (as seen in the more accurate 1746 map) filled with carp and tench for anglers. The area also had a bowling green and dressing rooms.

By 1830, things were starting to change. Joseph Watts took over the pool and built Baldwin Street over the fishpond. However, Peerless Pool was still in regular use, even if it was now increasingly hemmed in.

Onward to 1862 and it's just hanging on, although its days are clearly numbered. Whereas the map of 1746 had shown Peerless Pool as a bucolic spot in the countryside with barely a house or road in sight, the view from poolside in 1862 is very different: streets and houses are all around; to the south looms St Luke's Hospital For Lunatics and the bowling green is now covered by almhouses. 

Which brings us today and those suddenly tell-tale names, Peerless Street and Bath Street, all we have remaining of what can rightly be considered London's first lido.

Free Time Travel walk around Westminster - Saturday 18th September

by Bill Visick 14. September 2010 12:13

To celebrate the launch of Time Travel Explorer in the Apple app store, join us for a 2 hour guided walk around Westminster including the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Whitehall.

  • Explore the origins of "the Minster in the West" and see how it is linked to the City of London
  • Experience the way in which the area has developed over the centuries - and what still remains of the original buildings
  • Travel through time using old maps on your iDevice

Tour provided by Sue Mayne, certified Blue Badge Guide

Meet at 10:00 on Saturday 18th. underneath Big Ben, opposite Westminster tube station.

IPhone not necessary, but if you have one make sure you've installed the app - Time Travel Explorer - Pro version recommended, low launch price still maintained.

Please register here to confirm your attendance, places are limited and there is lots of interest

 

Welcome to Time Travel Explorer London

by Matt Brown 11. August 2010 21:36

Welcome to Time Travel Explorer London

Time travel? There's an app for that. Well, almost. With Time Travel Explorer (TTX) you can glimpse the London of Jack the Ripper, Charles Dickens, William Hogarth and Samuel Johnson through detailed and superimposable maps, spoken descriptions from a Blue Badge guide and over 1000 archive photographs.

You don't need a DeLorean or Tardis. Simply switch on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and begin browsing through history.

  • View detailed maps of London showing how the city has evolved over centuries. Fade-in and fade-out overlaid maps from different eras, to see precisely how streets, parks, boundaries and properties have changed.
  • Find your location with GPS and discover how your current surroundings looked in different eras.
  • Browse over 700 points of interest with detailed descriptions, many with photos and personal commentary from a certified Blue Badge tourist guide.
  • View more than 1200 historic photos, many more than a century old.

Explore the streets of London, let your iPhone tell you what's around you and see how the city has developed in a unique way.

Available now from iTunes app store for a special low introductory price of £1.79 until 26 August 2010.