London Rebranded: The Capital's Changing Names, Mapped

M@
By M@
London Rebranded: The Capital's Changing Names, Mapped

80 years ago, the word Fitzrovia was yet to be coined. 70 years ago, nobody talked about the 'South Bank'. 50 years ago, Chinatown would conjure images of Limehouse. 40 years ago, Canary Wharf was little-known outside the docks. 10 years ago, nobody said 'Midtown'. Today, nobody says Midtown.

Nothing is eternal in a city like London, and that includes the place names. New Cross was once known as Hatcham. The village of Garratt, famous for its mock mayoral elections, long ago vanished into the sprawl of Wandsworth.

In recent years, the pace of change, or proposed change, has accelerated. Neighbourhoods right across the capital are looking for pseudonyms, as property developers, business improvement districts (BIDs) and the occasional cultural or residents' group seek swankier names to attract attention. The most egregious example is Midtown, coined a half decade ago by the local BID to encapsulate the traditional areas of Holborn, Bloomsbury and St Giles. Many more examples are competing for recognition, from Tyburnia to London's Luxury Quarter. Some areas are pluripotent with possibilities. Londonist's office, for example, might be located in Tech City, the Silicon Roundabout, SoSho or Hoxditch. Or maybe just plain Old Street.

We've started ↓ this here map ↓ to keep track of this dizzying range of rebrandings. It shows name changes and coinages since the year 2000. We've left off older examples, such as Broadgate and Banglatown, so as not to overwhelm the map. Purple areas = 'Quarters', orange areas = 'Villages', blue areas = 'everything else'.

London's Quarters

The commonest form of rebranding is to dub the area a 'quarter'. Most things in life have four quarters. Not London. We have 21, mapped above in purple. Many are new developments seeking an independent identity from the surrounding area. The transmutation of the old Young's brewery in Wandsworth into modern apartments is known as the Ram Quarter. A new arrangement of flats at the tip of the Isle of Dogs is termed the Parkside Quarter. The Queensbridge Quarter might make investors salivate more than plain old Haggerston.

Other Quarters are conjured up by BIDs, business groups seeking to unite and promote local commerce under one umbrella. Examples include the sizeable Waterloo Quarter, and the linear Baker Street Quarter.

The Regent Quarter near King's Cross was one of the earliest and most successful 'Quarter' rebrandings (despite the desolation pictured here at a weekend). The rejuvenated commercial buildings include such tenants as the Camino restaurant. Image by M@.

A final category sees areas of town redubbed for cultural reasons. The largest is London's Artist Quarter, which effectively encapsulates the whole East End (and is therefore not shown on the map). This exists to support and promote the arts community in east London. More recently, the Knowledge Quarter was created to do something similar for intellectual organisations in north-central London. With its origins in the British Library, the Knowledge Quarter includes such powerhouses as UCL, the British Museum, Wellcome Trust, The Guardian, Central St Martin's, the Francis Crick Institute and Google, all of which have (or will have) a presence within a short walk of King's Cross.

London's Villages

Another popular strategy is to conjure up a sense of community by rededicating an area as a village (shown in orange on the map). A notable example is Tony Blair's 'hood of Connaught Village, a classy quadrilateral based around Connaught Street and Square. This itself nests within the wider area of Tyburnia, a name popular in the early 19th century now resurrected to give a melliferous label to the roads south of Paddington. On the other side of Edgware Road you'll find Portman Village, part of the Portman Estate particularly replete with restaurants, bars and exclusive shops who all benefit from being promoted collectively.

North of Camden Town, the lower slopes of Haverstock Hill have been redubbed Steele's Village (the apostrophe comes and goes). The renaming makes some kind of sense, as the area is not quite Chalk Farm, nor yet Belsize Park, but somewhere in-between. Steele's Village, named after local notable Richard Steele and his splendid namesake pub, is unusual in that its origins lie within the community rather than a top-down imposition from a business or property group. They've even got the name onto the local bus stop.

These folk love their rebrand so much, they even took it to the Olympic torch relay, just down the hill. Image by M@.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

What used to be known as 'Stratford Marsh', or 'the Lower Lea Valley', or 'where on Earth?', now enjoys a most august appellation. Since the close of the London 2012 games, the land has been known as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, one of the biggest rebrandings in London's history. The vast area is further subdivided into smaller development zones, whose names were mostly chosen by public competition. The first to be built was East Village (itself a renaming from the Athletes' Village of the games), and Chobham Manor is next. These will be joined by further residential areas known as Sweetwater, Eastwick (including iCity, which has already been rebranded Here East) and Pudding Mill. The recently revealed Olympicopolis zone clumsily recapitulates the old idea of 'Albertopolis', a sector for learning and culture within the park. Two 'International Quarters' are earmarked as future commercial zones, and these also form part of an acreage known as Stratford City. It's all very confusing, but we're sure it'll all be settled down in 20 years.

Regeneration has its dangers. Image by M@.

Other rebrands

We've barely scratched the surface. The blue bits on the map show all the other name changes (or would-be name changes). The Candy Brothers once suggested by implication that Fitzrovia should be called NoHo as a Manhattan-style northern playmate for Soho (even though the 'So' in Soho has nothing to do with being south). We still hear it occasionally uttered, but normally in an ironic way. See also SoSho for South Shoreditch; SoBo for south of Borough; and the ultimate NoGo representing North of Goldhawk Road.

Northbank's an interesting one. This recent coinage, also the name of the local BID, incorporates the riverside streets between Trafalgar Square and the far side of Aldwych, promoting them for culture and commerce. The idea's attracted plenty of derision, but is it really so different from the creation of the South Bank as an identity? One of the area's key organisations, King's College London, almost rebranded as King's London in 2015, before thinking better of the idea.

The regeneration of former council housing has led to much discussion and argument about gentrification. One side effect is the preponderance of new names on the landscape, as developers seek to disassociate their creations from what some would see as a jaded past. The now demolished Heygate Estate has risen from the rubble in a development trumpeted as Elephant Park. The nearby Aylesbury Estate is also likely to get a new name; we know not what. Over near Blackheath, the 1960s Ferrier Estate has transformed into Kidbrooke Village (including a section called Blackheath Quarter). And the defunct Wornington Green Estate in North Kensington should now be referred to as Portobello Square, perhaps the ultimate triumph of nominative gentrification.

Farewell Heygate Estate... Hello Elephant Park. Image by M@.

Our map, we suspect, has many omissions. Please remind us of any further examples in the comments below. Note, to give this a sensible cut-off point, we're only mapping names suggested after the year 2000. We've also avoided Estate Agent lingo like 'Blackheath Borders' (Lewisham) and 'Archgate' (Archway), as there are simply too many possibilities.

See also: A previous discussion about area rebranding.

Last Updated 15 August 2017

hostile_17

I say midtown. Maybe becuase I work in midtown. It's such a different vibe to other areas, say central parts of the City, so it's nice to have a distinction when talking about the area.

James K

Bellenden Village in Peckham as well

Ben

I've been on a decade long mission to rebrand my old neighbourhood of Chalk Farm / Gospel Oak as 'Lower Belsize Park. I've even managed to get it on the (Google) map https://www.google.co.uk/maps/...

HoosierSands

South Acton Estate is being turned into "Acton Gardens" http://www.actongardens.co.uk/... replacing council housing with housing association and private dwellings.

MattFromLondonist

Thanks all. Keep them coming and we'll add them to the map.

Fra

Nunhead Village?

mboerner

Amwell Village: A heart-shaped area of leafy squares and Georgian buildings bounded by Pentonville Road, Rosebery Avenue, and King's Cross Road--within the old Parish of Clerkenwell. A business name but taken from an old name and adopted by the local preversation society, the Amwell Society. http://www.amwell.org.uk/

martin

the Olympic Park's iCity has already been renamed to Here East.

Ade Clarke

Bloomsbury, St Giles and Holborn are evocative names, steeped in history. It would be utterly dismal if the bland 'Midtown' ever got any real traction. Good to see that the absurd 'NoHo' has been equally shunned thus far. Yes, of course the names of areas of London do change though - what we now think of as Dalston used to be the village of Kingsland for instance. Oh and if your offices are near the roundabout, there is a chance that you are actually in Moorfields, a name that only really lives on in the name of the Eye Hospital.

Marc

Doesn't exactly fit this thread, but its near enough... when I moved to London in the late 90s, I remember seeing an advert extolling loft apartments 'on the City's upper east side'.

Turns out they were talking about Shoreditch.

Iain

There is no 'Chalk Farm', 'Belsize Park' or 'Archway' as districts in their own right, they are roads in Camden Town, Hampstead and Upper Holloway that happen to have tube stations named after them.

I've heard of people described as living in 'Oval'. They don't. They live in Kennington near the tube station named after the cricket ground.

A part of north London has become known as 'Swiss Cottage' because of a tube station named Swiss Cottage which was named after a nearby pub named The Swiss Cottage. The area would be South Hampstead.

Richard

Glad 'Banglatown' was not listed. Lots of Bangladeshi men interested in local politics so perhaps an attempted top down name? Always seemed wrong to me when Brick Lane was home to so many non-Bangladeshi shops and bars.

Clive Power

Surrey Quays instead of Surrey Docks. I prefer the former (i.e. the latter) but either way it is evocative to think Rotherhithe was in Surrey until the end of the 19th century.

Indie66

I personally cannot stop mocking a friend for paying £500k for a flat in "West Greenwich" - AKA Deptford.

L Pierce

Quarter actually comes from military use, which itself is a term used to describe the living space particular staff lived in. Hence, Living Quarters, Servant Quarters, Married Quarters and so on. Some developers understand this and use the term correctly, but there are an awful lot who just use it because it sounds "expensive". But as a protip: It's not, those who know what it actually means, know that the buildings are cheaply built, often of poor quality and rushed.

JojiBeans

Most ridiculous one I ever heard was about eight or nine years ago now. The estate agents tried to sell the former housing association flat above my Nan's as being in "Chippenham Village" because it was on Shirland Road (not the posh end) & a few doors down from the Chippenham pub!

BMcH

Most developers in the Brentford area need a geography lesson - they think they are in North Kew!!! Kew Reach; Kew View; Premier Inn marketed as "Premier Inn Kew" but actually on Brentford High Street... to name just three.

Koola

How about 'Orchard Village', a rebrand of the Mardyke Estate in South Hornchurch, heading out towards Essex?! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O...

smersh

"Blackheath Borders" is what local estate agents are trying to call anything east of the Sun In The Sands roundabout and up Shooters Hill Road

HHGeek

Can't remember when it was, but there was a nasty attempt to introduce "Eastside" to refer to London downstream of Tower Bridge on both sides of the river. Talk about trying to blur out centuries of history in one inappropriate neologism.

ASLEF shrugged

Before the Dome arrived the top end of Greenwich peninsula was called Bugsbys Marshes

Rex

You could update the map to include a street and new bunch of apartments being built on the site of the old dog racing stadium grounds between Catford and Catford Bridge stations and stretching to Ladywell Park. The developers are calling it Catford Green.

Em

I live in Lower Holloway (London Islington) now called LoHo. Love that we have a fun new name!

Robin Behan

Estate agents are hilarious.