We all know that tourists struggle with the likes of Leicester Square, but it seems that native Londoners have issues with some local placenames too. Here are a few common errors.
Haringey vs Harringay
Not only are these areas both in London, they are also basically the same part of London. The simple way to differentiate is that Harringay is a residential district within the borough of Haringey. Considering that Harringay has been a functioning settlement since the middle of the 18th century, it does seem unnecessarily confusing that the Greater London Council created Haringey in 1965. If it’s not the last vowel that catches you out, it’s the dropped ‘r’ in the newer spelling, as one poor shopkeeper learned.
Strand vs The Strand
Strand, the near-mile long road stretching from Trafalgar Square towards Temple Bar, is formally known as such. The fact that we usually call it The Strand likely derives from the defunct, locally published magazine, The Strand (1891-1950), or from a failed bid to turn the area into the Metropolitan Borough of The Strand in 1899. Also, the song 'Let's All Go Down Strand' would just sound wrong. At least the Monopoly board got it right.
St Pancras vs St Pancreas
Simple one: St Pancras. It’s the easier of the two to say, yet travellers still can’t resist daily confusion with the digestive bodily organ. The real St Pancras was a 14-year-old boy who converted to Christianity in the 4th century; after refusing to give up his faith, he was beheaded by Roman Emperor Diocletian in 304 AD. He is now the patron saint of children, and with a tragic story like that, the least we can do is get his name right.
Walthamstow vs Walthamstowe
Famous for the longest street market in Europe, Walthamstow is often unnecessary suffixed with an extra ‘e’. Try to find a reason and you’re going all the way back to records from 1075 AD, when the north east London town was called Wilcumestowe (‘the place of welcome’). If you’re still getting it wrong nearly a millennium later, perhaps you’re never going to change – at least you’re not as bad as TfL.
Stansted vs Stanstead
There’s a slew of Stansteds and Stansteads across Britain, so it’s not always easy getting the airport’s name right – even for the transport staff who write the signs. Officially, it's Stansted, according to the airport's website.
English history has always been a bit flexible in this case: Stansted in Kent, for instance, was recorded as Stanstead in an 1891 census. Considering other -ead areas across London – Hampstead, Plumstead etc. – perhaps a name change is in order for one of our major airports.
King’s Cross vs Kings Cross
Sometimes it’s the smallest details that count, and we've covered the great King(')s Cross apostrophe debate before. The truth is, no one can really quite agree on whether to give King’s Cross an apostrophe or not. While most official signage allows it one, there are frequent exceptions and the National Rail website also does away with it.
Considering the name stemmed from a monument to King George IV, we should probably agree that the Cross is his to keep with a possessive apostrophe. Generally though, the rogue punctuation is a problem across London’s streets, and even foils some of our literary greats.
Mornington Crescent vs Mornington Cresent
Mornington Crescent is the correct spelling. A simple intricacy of the English language here, but not one that will probably slip you up in day-to-day usage. Unless, as is often the case in this list, you happen to be a sign maker, in which case you just know an eagle-eyed passenger will point out your mistake.
London vs Landan, Londan and Loodon
According to this Travelodge report, London is the second most misspelt location in the UK among users searching on its site (incredibly). Edinburgh takes top place, and you kind of get why, but is there any excuse for people misspelling London as Landan, Londan or even Loodon? Sure, they're probably typos, but if there’s any blame to be dished out here, it’s surely on the social media hordes ironically screaming ‘LANDAN TOWNNN!!!’ across the Twittersphere. Enough is enough, guys.