The Royal Borough of Greenwich certainly hasn’t been shy when it comes to naming streets after notable residents of the past few centuries. Here we take a look at a few of the people so honoured, plus a few interlopers who don’t seem to have a local connection but have still found their way onto the borough’s streets. Many you won’t have heard of, and a couple you probably will have (if you know your Greenwich). We’ve skipped royalty and high nobility because, well, they’re frankly a bit dull.
Given that Greenwich returned three Labour MPs at the last election, and has voted in a Conservative majority council just once since the Second World War (in 1968), it’s no surprise to see a few politicians of the red hue honoured around the borough. Bill Hamling Close and and Guy Barnett Grove are both named for post-war Labour MPs, while local Labour councillor William Barefoot is remembered for his improvements to Woolwich’s park and gardens. Socialism gets a further nod with streets named after Will Crooks and Edith Nesbit, notable members of the Fabian Society in their time.
Talking of left-wingers, Sam Bartram wasn’t one but a player as loyal to Charlton Athletic as this unusually diminutive goalkeeper (just 5 foot 10) would no doubt have filled in on the flank if asked. Bartram made well over 500 appearances for the Addicks either side of the Second World War, and although he never earned a full England cap he should have, in the mind of every Charlton fan you will ever meet. He has his own Close in the borough, and a statue at The Valley that is taller than the man himself.
Another sportsman is honoured, with Tom Cribb Road at the former Royal Arsenal. One of the most famous bare-knuckle boxers of the sport’s golden age, Cribb fought 11 impossibly tough fights and ended his career undefeated. He is remembered mostly for his fights against the American former slave Tom Molineaux, one of which Cribb won in 34 gruelling rounds. His second fight against Molineaux in 1811 drew 25,000 spectators, and Cribb’s victory ensured his status as the great celebrity of his time. You’ll also find a pub named after him near Haymarket in the West End.
Equality and family issues have been an important concern for Greenwich. Both Leila Parnell and Maud Cashmore are remembered for their efforts in setting up hospitals for women and children in the area, while Mary Lawrenson Place is named for the founder of the Co-operative Women’s Guild in Woolwich in 1883. Edith Cavell Way, half way up Shooters Hill on an old hospital site, is named for one of the more famous former residents of the borough – a committed nurse during the First World War, she saved the lives of countless Allied forces in Belgium before being executed by the German army, to international outcry. As the picture shows, her street leads to Elizabeth Fry Place, commemorating the social reformer currently featuring on the £5 note.
Others namesakes in the borough include Phineas Pett Road, named for a shipbuilder to the stars during the 17th century, Inigo Jones Road for the famous architect who designed Covent Garden piazza, and Bernard Ashley Drive, after a children’s author (he still writes today).
Greenwich clearly knows how to honour its famous residents. A Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen Avenue cannot be far away.
Did we miss any? Should any existing Greenwich residents get their own street names? Should we do this in other boroughs? Let us know in the comments.
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By Chris Lockie