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For Tube obsessives
on 12 February 2005
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.