Nostalgia: Havering’s mostly British street names

Racegoers watch the action at Goodwood Racecourse. Picture: John Buckle/EMPICS Sport

Racegoers watch the action at Goodwood Racecourse. Picture: John Buckle/EMPICS Sport - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Many local streets were named after pretty places to help sell houses.

Kempton Park Race course in Surrey. Picture: PA Archive/Press Association

Kempton Park Race course in Surrey. Picture: PA Archive/Press Association - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

But sometimes there was a personal connection. William Carter, who began Emerson Park in 1895, came from Parkestone in Dorset. He gave his development Parkestone Avenue.

Prof Ged Martin

Prof Ged Martin - Credit: Archant

Sometimes, a place name may refer to a person. Salisbury Road in Heath Park probably commemorates Lord Salisbury, three times prime minister between 1885 and 1902, not the cathedral city in Wiltshire.

When Hornchurch’s Hacton Lane area was laid out for building in the 1930s, streets were named after race courses – Kempton, Plumpton, Chepstow, Goodwood, Haydock, Epsom, Lingfield, Doncaster, Newbury.

Unfortunately two of the racecourses soon closed.

Chelmsford Drive recalls the Essex racecourse, located on Galleywood Common. As this was a public open space, punters could watch the races without paying. Chelmsford went bust in 1935.

The other casualty was Gatwick racecourse in Sussex., which closed in 1940 for the duration of World War Two – and never reopened. After the war, it became part of Gatwick Airport.

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But Hacton Lane’s quiet, traffic-free Gatwick Way was named for the racecourse not for the airport.

In Romford’s Rise Park, builders used names from Scotland – Beauly Way, Deveron Way, Ayr Way. This was a marketing ploy – the less romantic Glasgow, Motherwell and Dundee do not feature!

But when Harold Hill was built as a public housing project in the late 1940s, the street names were resolutely English.

The first generation of Harold Hill people came from Inner London, grim places like Stepney and Hackney – but they moved to streets named after English country towns – Barnstaple, Chippenham, Cricklade, Chudleigh, Taunton, Woodbridge.

Oddly, Havering has few overseas street names.

In older parts of London, you find roads named after colonies and imperial battles.

Havering has few examples. Pretoria Road, off Mawney Road, dates from the time of the 1899 South African War against the Boers, white settlers who ran the tiny Afrikaner republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal.

Other imperial echoes include Clive Road and Lawrence Road in Heath Park. These probably honour Robert Clive, who conquered Bengal for Britain in the 1750s, and Sir John Lawrence, a hero of the 1857-58 Indian Mutiny.

Nearby Lytton Road perhaps commemorates Lord Lytton, Viceroy of India 1876-1880.

Six million Indians died of famine during his viceroyalty, and in 1878 he invaded Afghanistan.

An exception to Havering insularity is New Zealand Way in South Hornchurch, part of a cluster of streets and tower blocks named after Kiwi cities and towns – Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Napier.

And there’s a charming example off Cross Road, just north of Eastern Avenue, where Pitcairn Close is named after one of the smallest islands in the Pacific Ocean. Maybe it seemed the most remote spot in Romford!