The Next Stop Is... Julian's Primary School

By Jonn Last edited 69 months ago
The Next Stop Is... Julian's Primary School

It's all so very hard

Today we continue our series of helpful, informative and almost entirely fictitious explanations for how London's bus stops got their names. You can read part one here.

Number 2: Julian's Primary School

Where: Just north of Streatham Common

Routes: 417, N137

Labelling London's bus stops is no easy business. Until sometime in the 90s, best we recall, they didn't have names at all: they were simply 'the stop at the end of the road', or 'the one opposite the shops'. That changed when the transport authorities first introduced proper bus maps, at which point informal labels like 'the third one after the park' were no longer quite up to the job.

Coming up with an alternative naming scheme, though, proved surprisingly difficult. Even a city as well-labelled as this one has more bus stops than districts to name them after. And, while there are ways in which you can accurately pinpoint any position in the whole of Greater London (longitude and latitude; the Ordnance Survey grid system), you'd end up with 18,000 stops with names like '51.489433,-0.082054' or 'TQ 30715 83543'. These, while technically accurate, proved practically useless.

And so, the authorities engaged the services of an expert geographitician. His mission was to come up with a series of names that were informative, memorable, and possible to make sense of without the aid of a compass and a convenient troop of boy scouts. "People navigate by landmarks," they told him. "Our stops should be named after landmarks.”

Alas, it swiftly transpired that 'geographitician' wasn't actually a real job — and the expert they'd hired was just some bloke called Colin who had a map and a lot of time on his hands. The names he came up with were incredibly useful and descriptive, but only if you were Colin. A glance at the new spider maps revealed bus stops with such helpful and informative labels as ‘Mum's House’, ‘Uncle Peter's Office’ and ‘Second Favourite Curry House / Dansak Not as Good As That One On Tooting High Road’.

Julian's Primary School, a reference to Colin’s younger son, is the last remnant of that naming system. Originally an oversight, TfL decided to leave the existing name in place, as a testament to the folly of not taking up references when hiring people to undertake important public policy roles. The fact the bus stop is located opposite an actual educational institution, with which it shares its name, is purely coincidental.

If you're out there, Colin, we salute you. And we say: have you ever considered writing for Londonist? You'd fit right in.

Image courtesy of Simon Crubellier, taken from the Londonist Flickr pool

Last Updated 04 July 2013