This Fascinating Tube Map Shows You The Meaning Behind Every Tube Station Name
Cast your eyes back to Summer 2020 – what were you doing dear reader? Well, if you’re anything like us, you were probably alternating between lying comatose watching Netflix, forcing yourself out for another turn around the local park, and generally bemoaning the lack of beer gardens and nights out. Still, not everyone was quite so idle as us – take writer Mark Forsyth, who, in partnership with designer Mark Noad, spent that Summer working on a Tube map that reveals the meaning behind every single one of our tube station names. And it’s pretty interesting stuff it has to be said…
As you probably know, we love a quirky Tube map here at Secret London, and this is one of the most diverting ones yet. Forsyth’s etymological research, combined with Noad’s geographically accurate map, shows tube stations that were named after Anglo-Saxon settlers, members of the nobility, and geographical features too. Not all of them roll off the tongue, mind you: “Seven Elms in a Ring around a Walnut Tree” might be a bit of a mouthful for Tube announcers telling you you’ve arrived at Seven Sisters.
Plenty of pretty names are here; on the Central Line alone, Perivale becomes “Valley of the Pear Trees”, Holborn comes from “Stream in a Hollow”, and Fairlop derives its name from “Funfair Beneath a Pruned Tree”, which is exactly the kind of event Secret London would have jumped all over had we been around in the 1600s. Not every station grades out so well, mind you: spare a thought for the Heathrow Terminals, all grouped under the “Houses on the Waste Land” title.
Some of the more popular stations are immediately apparent; “Earl of Oxford’s Roundabout” becomes Oxford Circus, “Padda’s Farm” is Paddington, “Badric’s Island Power Station” becomes *ahem* Battersea Power Station and “Bank of England” is the unsurprising origin of Bank. I’d definitely be tempted to keep some – “Candlemaker’s Street” is much more preferable to Cannon Street, in my eyes – and a handful of origin names happen to be snappier than the current one: see “Scottish Crop Top” (Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich) for more on this.
All in all, perusing the map and learning all about the different tube station names is an excellent way to spend an afternoon. You can see the full map here, and it’ll give you a few fun facts you can bust out on your next Tube journey to impress your companions. Meet at Beorhstige’s Meeting-Stone (Brixton) anyone? That is, until they tearfully beg you to please, please stop calling it “Cantbeaorht’s Heathland” (Cambridge Heath), of course.
Also published on Medium.