Little slices of London's history

Friends, dispensaries, and Barack Obama

Today is, apparently, Friendship Day, so let’s have a look at London’s amicable streets, starting with Friend Street in Clerkenwell, towards the north end of St John Street – the other end from Passing Alley. It has nothing to do with pals, but takes its name from George Friend.

Mr Friend, gentleman dyer to the East India Company and a Quaker – a member of the Society of Friends – was generous as well as rich. In 1780 he established the Finsbury Dispensary, a free clinic for the neighbourhood’s poorer residents.

James Paget, considered to be one of the founders of scientific medical pathology, was one of the surgeons who worked at the Dispensary, and there is a Paget Street leading off Friend Street.

A Friendship Walk in Northolt takes its name from an aircraft (the Fokker Friendship); appropriate in view of its proximity to two airports (Northolt and Heathrow and there is a Friendship Way in East London, in an area once called Knob Hill, not far from the site of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium. This one is close to Pudding Mill Lane, which takes its name from a mill that was shaped like a pudding.

There are also a Friendly Street and a Friendly Place.

Incidentally, the 4th of August marks a birthday shared by Louis Armstrong, Billy Bob Thornton, and Barack Obama.

About Me (and my Obsession)

My obsession with London street names began in the early 90s when I worked in the Smithfield area and happened upon Bleeding Heart Yard. In my wanderings around London, I kept adding to my store of weird and wonderful street names. Eventually it was time to share – hence my blog. I hope you enjoy these names as much as I do.
– Elizabeth


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