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28 October 2014
BBC Liverpool - Local History

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The Streets of Liverpool

The original plan for the town was in the shape of a letter "H", with Juggler Street at the cross bar. At each end of that street was a cross, the White Cross at the north end where Chapel ran into Tithebarn, and High Cross, which stood at the south end where the Town Hall is today. Chapel Street was probably the first thoroughfare to be contstructed, although Castle Street was the most important of all.

There are some old city streets which often take the name or refer to the actual place, e.g. streets with hill names in them like Brownlow Hill. Often the topography is hidden in the name because the name is not necessarily English, so you have Grassendale or as it would originally have been pronounced by the Norsemen "Grassen-daller" which means - a grassy dale. There are a number of Norse names in and around Liverpool. They also reflect the names of the chieftains, the men in charge of the groups of boats that came in.. so you have "toch" and his "stead", the place where he had his farm, hence Toxteth as we now refer to it. Bootle commemorates a man called "bott" and Fazackerley - there’s someone called "faz" in there as well..

There are street names which commemorate events. In the 18th centjry, Liverpool, because of its commercial interests, commemorated many of the victories of the English over the French, particularly battles at sea and the commanders of those battles, men such as Nelson and Rodney.

There are also places which reflect the name of the builder or the owner of the land. Welsh builders came to Liverpool in the 19th century and you then got a lot of Welsh names. Off High Park Street there are many streets named after Welsh rivers. There’s a fairly well known but unusual string of Welsh streets off Walton Road which, when you spell out the first letter of each street, spells out Owen and Williams, including the word "and".

. In the 19th century there was an anti urban reaction, people didn’t particularly like towns and cities because of the dirt and the disease and the smells, so even if they were building terraced streets, they may want to try to refer to some "bosky green" area of England and we have many local areas which have "dale" at the end of the street names - for instance, Dovedale, Lidderdale, Briardale, etc.

If you start to scratch away at street names, you can uncover part of the fascinating urban history that is Liverpool.

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