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Fieldwork: How did the street get its name?

street name


Investigate the naming of streets and roads in the area by arranging a fieldwork visit and further research.

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Length of time

You could include short and longer visits and research over time.


Suitable locations

Local streets, streets in villages, urban residential areas and in new developments. Your local library may be helpful in finding out information about activities in your area which led to street naming.


Activity descriptions

A bit of background

In Medieval England, names developed gradually, helping to identify a place such as a pond, a hilly place or river, the farm at the end of the road, or the inn on the corner. Other streets were named to locate where you might reach if you followed them. For example, London Road, Bath Road.

Now the local Council is responsible for naming and numbering streets and buildings in the borough. You can ask the Planning dept to consider names as well. However, the word ‘Royal’ or an associated word should not be used without written consent from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office.

Going outside

Everywhere has a selection of road names. Organise a walk in the area and make a list of all the road names seen. If you know of interesting names or links to a theme such as royalty e.g. King Street, Coronation Terrace, try to include these on the walk if possible. Take pictures which can then be linked to a map of the area.

  • Does the name indicate what is there now?
  • Is the sign old or a very modern looking one?
  • Where is it? (a stand-alone post, on the wall etc)
  • What are the houses like on this road? Do they look old or modern?

In school group the names into categories: royal connections, famous people, physical descriptions etc as well as the suffix (road, way, lane etc)

  • Which is used most?
  • Can the suffixes be grouped to describe the size and importance of the road?
  • What is meant by descriptions such as crescent, no-through road, one way, rise etc?
  • If there are examples of Coronation, King, Queen, Victoria for example to what or whom do these refer? (The age of the buildings in a road may help – for example a set of Victorian terraces or 1930’s semi-detached houses)
  • What are the most recent street names for example in a new development?
  • What would the class like to see as a street name in their area? They need to think about who or what they would like to commemorate.
  • Are any other events celebrated in your area with names or street furniture? (e,g Olympics – post boxes painted gold for winners who live locally)


Useful websites

Street naming and numbering – Whilst the site is produced by the London Borough of Sutton it is a mine of information and has a great
list of suffixes (road, street, view, way etc) which can be used – 27 in all!

Search local archives – A good way of finding out the local council which deals with streets in your area.


This collection of Fieldwork activities were created by Paula Richardson and the Fieldwork and Outdoor Learning Special Interest Group (FOLSIG) for the National Festival of Fieldwork, the GA invites everyone to take part during the summer term.

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