Easily Made Mistakes

London has some peculiarities in how parts of it are named, which can catch out those who are new to London.

Terms for London often confused

  • The City of London refers only to the small "square mile" and main business district. It is governed by the [City of London Corporation]?.
  • Greater London is the administrative area made up of 32 London boroughs and the City of London.
  • London is the region of England (there are nine in total) and has the same outer boundary as Greater London but is officially called London.
  • [City of Westminster]? is one of the London boroughs. The 'city' status of Westminster is historic.
  • [Kensington & Chelsea]? and [Kingston upon Thames]? are also London boroughs which have 'royal borough' status. The status is purely honorific.
  • [Inner London]? is a defined term meaning those boroughs in the area that was part of the historic County of London (1889-1965). Sometimes the term is used with negative connotations but it includes rich and poor areas alike.
  • [Central London]? is an often used but vaguely defined term referring to the most central districts.
  • [Outer London]? is a defined term meaning those boroughs that are not in the area that was part of the historic County of London (1889-1965).
  • [London postal area]? is the area that has "London" in postal addreses. It includes all of Inner London and about half of Outer London and goes beyond the London boundary in only one place (near Chingford).
  • Mayor of London is currently [Boris Johnson]? who creates a strategic plan for London.
  • London Assembly are a group of politicians who scrutinise and approve The Mayor of London's plans and budgets.
  • The 020 area code does not cover all of London and extends beyond the London boundary in several places. Local numbers are issued starting with 3, 7 and 8 and can be assigned anywhere in the 020 area. Local numbers have eight digits, and can be dialled that way from anywhere else within the 020 area.

See Telephone Area Code for London for the history.

  • There are no 0207, 0208 or 0203 codes, just one - 020.

Places in London

  • [Edgware]? is nowhere near Edgware Road Station (see A5 for more on the Edgware Road itself). Generally, "X Road" means "the road that goes to X"; by the time it gets to X, it'll have changed its name to be "(where you started from) Road". This doesn't generally apply to names ending in street, though. Go figure.
  • [Northfields]? is not near [Southfields]?.
  • The names of English towns are by no means unique, for example, there are two Ashfords, one in [Middlesex]?, near Heathrow Airport, and the other in Kent. There are also two Stratfords - one in East London, and the other (Stratford upon Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare) in Warwickshire.
  • The same can also be true of London districts. Similarly there are two Hayes, one in LB Hillingdon, west London and one in LB Bromley, south east London. There are two Plaistows, one in LB Newham, the one with a [Plaistow Station]?, and the other in LB Bromley, near Beckenham. To be unambiguous about place names, quote the postal district or London borough.

Tube bloopers

  • Always use the full name of the station when buying a ticket, i.e. Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, not Leicester or Piccadilly. The exception to this rule is King's Cross St Pancras, which is unambiguously abbreviated to King's Cross.
    • There is an urban legend tale of an American tourist being sold a ticket to Manchester Piccadilly, when they wanted a ticket to Piccadilly Circus.
    • I was approached by a foreign tourist asking for directions to 'Liverpool' at a tube station recently. It took quite a while for me to help him understand the difference between Liverpool and Liverpool Street. (Tom Morris)
    • Manchester and Liverpool are both cities about 200 miles North-West of London.

For more examples see the page Adjacent Stations.

  • Bank and Monument stations are actually only one station - with internal interchanges and two different names at the platform. Be warned though it's an awfully long trek between them and infested with buskers.

Can anybody think of any others?

Confusing terminology

English language usage has evolved differently, on each side of the Atlantic. An American may be used, in a restaurant, to settling the check with a bill, whereas in England, you can pay your restaurant bill with a cheque.

  • Subway - In England, a subway is a pedestrian walkway which takes you underneath a busy road. There is no Tube station there unless the signs indicate this.
  • Pavement - In England, this is the word for a sidewalk or trottoir. In America, the word "pavement" is used to refer to any asphalted surface suitable for driving vehicles over, such as a car park or a road! Talking to an American about walking on the pavement might give them undue concerns for your safety.

See this page on Everything2 for more examples of confusing terms.

Other mistakes

A commonly made mistake is to assume the most ornate bridge with the lifting spans is London Bridge. It's not, it's Tower Bridge. London Bridge is a plain structure.

Last edited 2009-07-23 19:47:02 (version 35; diff). List all versions.