Streets of London

The English folf singer Ralph McTell wrote a song back in the seventies called “Streets of London” – but as I mentioned recently, while the City of London – the square mile that houses Britain’s main financial district – has ‘streets’, ‘lanes’,’alleys’, ‘courts’ and ‘squares’, there are no ‘roads’ within the City.


There are two rather charming suggestions as to why this should be:

one is that a road is ‘an open way for traveling between two places’, and with typical London arrogance, when you get to the City you’ve arrived 

the other suggests that all the streets in the City were named before the word ‘road’ came into common usage at the end of the sixteenth century (the use of the word is first recorded 1596) while ‘street’ is derived from the original Roman ‘strada’. Britain’s Roman roads were all ‘streets’ – Ermine Street (which started at Bishopsgate and headed north), Watling Street and so on.