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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 8 January 2007
Cyril M. Harris has seriously researched the history of most London tube stations and has included a lot of photos from the 1910s and onwards, which makes it a lot more interesting. There is no historical information on London tube ghost stations but the list present in this book makes it one of a kind.

One day I took the book with me on the tube and I read the paragraphs devoted to each of the stations my train crossed one by one. It was like living history all over again. Try it! It might break the routine.

I would highly recommend Harris's book to anyone interested in the history of the London Underground network and for those interested in a bit of London sightseeing in the 1910s-1950s.
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At 84 pages and of small size ( 4 3/8" x 7"), this paperback will easily slide into your backpack on your next trip to London.
WHAT'S IN A NAME alphabetically lists roughly 270 stations - I counted twice, with a different result each time - of the Underground, and another 34 of the Docklands Light Rail system. The name's origin, the year the station opened, and the name changes that have since occurred are described for each. A typical entry:
"DEBDEN takes its name from a natural location of the area and is recorded as Deppendana in the Domesday Book. It is derived from the Old English DEP, 'deep' and DEN, 'valley' - which means simply 'the deep valley'. It was recorded as Depeden in 1227. The station was opened by the Great Eastern Railway as Chigwell Road on 24 April 1865, and re-named Chigwell Lane on 1 December 1865. It was again renamed as Debden on 25 September 1949 when first used by Underground trains."
The book is liberally sprinkled with black and white photos of the stations or their immediate environs. Most date from the early 20th century, and none are later than, say, 1955.
Surprisingly, the book includes no overall schematic of the Underground system - not even on the back of the back cover, where it usually makes an appearance.
WHAT'S IN A NAME is for Tube obsessives, or for those whose hobby is the derivation of English place names. Anyone else may find it as interesting reading as a dictionary. Despite my love for London and its Underground, I'm ambivalent.
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on 11 April 2002
An excellent book that gives full detail of each station on the London Underground system including those no longer in use. It traces back the name of the station and thus the origin of well-known London places and suburbs.
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on 29 April 2011
This informative book gives the history of station names of the London Underground and Dockland Light Rail and their meanings. Proposed names which were never used are also mentioned. Interesting pictures are used to show various areas of London during the late 1800's and 1900's, some of which are recognisable and some of which look alien to how they are today.

Who would have known that Knightsbridge was recorded as Cnihtebricge in 1046 and as Knyghtsbrugg in 1364?
Who would have known that the Underground station at Victoria opened on 24 December, 1868?
Who would have known that the name of 'East Barnet and Merryhills' was considered for the station that opened with the name of 'Enfield West' on 13 March, 1933 and then changed it's name on 1 September, 1946 to 'Oakwood'?
Who would have known that the station of 'Elephant and Castle' was named after a tavern which was then demolished in 1959?

As a Londoner, I regularly use the Underground but never appreciated the history of the areas it serves. This book has managed to give me a deeper understanding of my own city.

An enjoyable read and highly recommended for those interested in old London.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 February 2013
This is a small book which can easily fit into a jacket pocket. Over its 80 pages it lists in alphabetical order tube station names with a brief description of their origin and the date they opened. A separate section lists stations on the Docklands Light Rail. It also includes many small black and white historical photos of stations. Curiously there is no tube map and no indication in each entry which line or lines the stations are on.

This is truly a short dictionary. The introduction is only half a page and there is no history of the development of the underground system. As well as the station histories you get derivations of the geographic names such as the original Anglo-Saxon name or the landowner or worthy who gave their name to the area. For example (with the dates the station was built or converted to a tube station):

1868 Sloane Square was named for Sir Hans Sloane
1868 Victoria, of course, comes from Queen Victoria
1875 Liverpool Street was named after Lord Liverpool, the prime minister
1902 Dagenham East comes from the ham (homestead) of Daecca
1968 Seven Sisters comes from the road named after seven elm trees
1987 Mudchute comes from the hill of mud dredged from the Millwall dock

If you travel regularly on the tube this little book will give an extra dimension to your journey. With over 280 entries I assume that all the stations are covered. There are other books about the history of tube station names, including on the Kindle but they do not have the pocket book size of this one. However, this book does not list the ghost (disused) stations.
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on 21 June 2016
Very informative book for people who love the underground like my son. Some of the station descriptions were a little short ... Although that is probably all there was to say! You certainly learn a lot.
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on 31 October 2012
If you are interested in the origin of place names and like concise snippets of trivia, this book will probably be of interest, albeit in a rather train-spotty kind of way. [Purchase it on the internet - no one will ever need to know!] This is a book to be randomly dipped in and out of during moments of boredom; probably make a great toilet companion - could easily be hidden in the cistern for private use, being as it's pretty small. Seriously, though, if you always wondered why some tube stations are so named, then this should satisfy your curiosity; most are actually pretty obvious, but the book also offers a background to the origins of all the names used, station opening dates and name changes over the years, plus some of the alternative names proposed but not used. There are also a number of old photo's of some of the station locations, which are dotted throughout the book - may need a magnifying glass to make out any detail, as they are very small! It is what it is and it does it pretty well.
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on 29 August 2013
The best way to utilise this book would be to find the time to travel the underground system and take the time to poke your head above ground while reading the nuggets of information this book contains about each one. Sadly, I don't live near London, have to work for a living (not a millionaire I'm afraid) and am unlikely ever to have the opportunity to do so. This, however, is a very fine place to start.
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on 25 February 2011
I picked this book up while I was at TfL Museum in Covent Garden and couldn't put it down as I travelled back up north on the train. It's a fun little book full of interesting facts about all the stations on the Underground and even though I'm not from around those parts, I still enjoyed reading up about all these places. Great buy for a Railfan or for something to read if you're ever stuck on the Underground
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on 28 May 2013
When I say a bit too small, I mean the actual size of the text and the size of the book itself. I bought it as a present for my father and it wasn't as big as it could have been. Shame when the contents is so good and comprehensive, and up to date!
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