How The Tube Stations Might Have Been Named

By M@ Last edited 22 months ago

Last Updated 03 August 2022

How The Tube Stations Might Have Been Named

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Ever caught the Northern line from Bittacy Hill to Nightingale Lane? We know those stations as Mill Hill East and Clapham South but, had history taken a different turn, they would now enjoy different names.

Over 40 of the current underground station names had serious alternative contenders when first built. Brent Cross might have been Woodstock, for example, while Burnt Oak, originally in the middle of farmland, had at least three almost-names.

Some might even have been sensible. The geographically questionable Marylebone station might have been Lisson Grove. The good people of Cockfosters would have endured far fewer adolescent jokes had their station been named for Trent Park.

Other appellations would have been counterproductive. Why have a Newgate Street station, when the vast majority of first-time visitors are alighting for St Paul's? (Although, by the same token, it might have made more sense to have a Selfridges station, instead of 'Bond Street' — which isn't even a real street.)

The phenomenon continues to this day. Originally, the under-construction extension to the Northern line was set to terminate at a new 'Battersea' station. It has since been renamed Battersea Power Station, or Battersea Power Station station if you want to awkwardly distinguish it from the famous building above. Let's call it BaPS.

About the map

Our map shows every example we could find of serious proposals for alternative names that never came to pass. What we haven't included are all the previous names that did once exist on the map. Arsenal station, for example, was once Gillespie Road, while Embankment has changed name five times. There simply isn't room on a tube diagram to show all these variations (yes, we tried).

Heath Street written in tiles on the Hampstead tube platforms

One curious edge-case is Hampstead. This was originally to be known as Heath Street. The name made it onto the underground map, and can even be seen to this day on the station's platforms. It got renamed to the more helpful 'Hampstead' before opening, however, so it has found a place on our diagram.

We've also restricted things to the existing tube map, so haven't included ghost stations or anomalies like Bull & Bush (near Hampstead), which was named and built but never opened.

We would be happy to update the map with further information and any proposals we might have missed. Please leave a comment or email [email protected].