Little slices of London's history

Threadneedle Street, Bywater Street, and trolls and fans

I was somewhat crestfallen a while back when I was trolled on this blog. Well, ‘trolled’ may be too strong a word; I was accused of being a charlatan. What Mr Bloggs, aka ‘Not Impressed’ said was:

“Do you actually do research or do you just jump at the first entertaining trivia you come across? You’ve said it yourself – Stow first mentions Three Needle St. In 1598. The Needle Makers weren’t incorporated until 1664. So their coat of arms couldn’t have been the origin of the name because it didn’t exist early enough!

“As for your cock & bull Old Lady story… All I’ll say is it’s from a 1797 satirical James Gillray cartoon!! And whilst it might have been a bit more difficult to find that when you wrote this, it certainly wasn’t impossible. And you continue to repeat both false origins in succeeding articles…”

As I explained to Mr Not Impressed, the answers to both questions is ‘Yes’. Yes, I do actually “do research” (I would have said ‘carry out research’) and, yes, I do jump at entertaining trivia. That is, after all, one of the main purposes of this blog which is not, and I don’t think I’ve claimed it to be, a scholastic work.

We are now back in our own house following last year’s flood; that’s not a cheap plea for sympathy, it means that we have nearly finished sorting our belongings out so I am once more in possession of all my books, notebooks and other ‘doing research’ items. I also came across a load of photos dating back to 1989, which shows how long my street name obsession has been running.

Luckily, there are other people out there who are rather more complimentary, and that makes it all worth while. But I will take on board my troll’s comments and revisit Threadneedle Street. I will also revisit comments and questions from the more pleasant of my readers, starting with the nice Mr Bywater who said:

“My surname (Bywater) is usually connected with Yorkshire but there are London Bywaters stretching back to the 1500’s if not earlier. I wonder therefore what is the origin of Bywater Street, Chelsea, London SW3 and Bywater Place, Rotherhithe, London SE16.”

All I can find in my various books is that the Bywater Street in Chelsea was named for a local property owner. As one source states, “Bywater Street was so named in about 1857, probably after Thomas Bywater, a minor Chelsea property-owner of the period”. I can only assume that the Rotherhithe Bywater Place was also named after a prominent local.

According to Wikipedia, “Bywater is an uncommon surname of Anglo-Saxon origin. It is a topographical surname given to those who were situated near a body of water. The name derives from the merger of the Old English words bi (Middle English: by) and waeter (Middle English: water) to form biwaeter. Region of origin: Yorkshire”.

Incidentally, I had a look through a few different London atlases and A-Zs and I can’t find a Troll Street, which would have been fun.

This blog has made me realise how long it’s been since I posted: the input methods have all changed so now I am trying to find my way around WordPress all over again, and the search engine seems to have stopped working on the website so I may have to go in and rearrange it all at some point.

5 responses to “Threadneedle Street, Bywater Street, and trolls and fans”

  1. As you know, I always enjoy your posts, and would advise you to ignore know-it-alls and trolls. Although I lived very close to Bywater Place SE16 from 1985-1997, I cannot provide a history of its name.
    It is very nice to see you posting again, Elizabeth.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. A belated Happy New Year, Pete, good to hear from you, and yes, I do ignore that sort of comment. Or embrace it and use it for inspiration! I wouldn’t be running a blog if I expected not to have the occasional negative feedback. I’m delighted to see that you still have a connection with just about any street name I mention 😀

      1. I did live in the Surrey Docks area (Reveley Square, Downtown Road, and Redriff Road) for a long time, so that one was easy. 🙂
        Best wishes, Pete.

  2. […] start of the Chinese New Year and, by happy coincidence, the street sign photos that I mentioned in my last post include one of Horse and Dolphin Yard. Yes, it’s the Year of the ox, not horse or dolphin, but […]

  3. […] Threadneedle Street, Bywater Street, and trolls and fans […]

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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