I wondered if there was an easy way of doing an online search for town and street names, so I could find funny ones. The popular mapping sites are great if you want to search for a specific name, but I was looking for somewhere you could do more general substring searches, or ideally regex searches.
I didn’t really find what I was looking for, so I decided to make my own instead.
So I got hold of street and place name data from the Ordnance Survey, but first I thought I’d do a bit of titting about with it to see what interesting things fell out.
[UPDATE]: If you want to see the street and place name search web-apps I created, click here.
According to the OS, there are 41,652 named populated areas in the UK, with 783,351 named streets. Not all of these streets are in public places – some are inside places like power stations, and private estates.
NOTE: I did find quite a few errors in the Ordnance Survey data, so none of the information in this post can be 100% guaranteed. Soz.
First And Last
As for which place name comes first alphabetically, we run into a bit of a problem. There are quite a few places in Scotland with Gaelic names which start with an accented ‘À’, such as Àird a’ Mhulaidh. Do these come before the ‘A’s? Or after? Or should they be treated the same? And then how do you treat spaces and punctuation marks? There’s an A’Chill on the Scottish island of Canna, but there’s an Aaron’s Hill in Godalming, Surrey. Which of these comes first?
With road names, there are loads of names which begin with numerals (eg. “3rd Street”). Since we’re sorting alphabetically, 10th Avenue in Hull, beats all the other numerical public streets.
There is, however, only one public road in the whole of the UK which starts with a punctuation mark, and that’s (Old) Middlewich Road in Sandbach, Cheshire.
The shortest UK place name is Ae in Scotland, which you can’t actually search for on Streetmap because you have to enter at least three letters.
The longest street name is slightly difficult because all the leading candidates are problematic in some way. I’m going to straight away discount any names which have a sub-name in brackets, such as Alfred’s Way (East Ham And Barking By-Pass).
The next candidate is Queen Margaret’s Road Industrial Estate, near Scarborough. This sounds like it’s the name of the estate itself, rather than the road running through it. But the name does appear on a street-name sign, so I’m going to tentatively say that this is the longest street name.
The longest single-word place name is Penbontrhydyfothau
There are 90 road names with all the vowels occurring once in alphabetical order. They all end in either -Court (84) or -Mount (5), except for Water Mill Clough. The shortest are: Averil Court and Azelin Court, and the longest is: Blakely Hill Court.
There are no place names with all the vowels occurring once in alphabetical order.
The longest place name with no vowels is Ysbyty Ystwyth (it’s Welsh).
The longest place name with no vowels or ‘Y’s is Cwmffrwd (it’s also Welsh).
The longest road name with no vowels is Stryd Bryn Hyfryd (it might shock you but this is Welsh as well).
The longest road name with no vowels or ‘Y’s is Cwrt Gwscwm (guess where this is).
The longest single-vowel place names are:
- A – Llangasty-talyllyn
- E – Green Street Green
- I – Mynydd Y Fflint
- O – Moor Monkton Moor
- U – Blythburgh
The longest single-vowel road names are:
- A – Llantarnam Park Way
- E – Peter Fletcher Crescent
- I – Hitchings Skilling
- O – Clos Ysgol Bron-Y-Bryn
- U – Cruckburn Wynd
Only one place name contains only vowels, and that’s the aforementioned Ae. No road names contain only vowels.
There are 27789 road names with no recurring letters. 11 of these are joint-longest at 15 letters long. They are: Bankfields Court, Finglesham Court, Fitz Wygram Close, Lindsaybeg Court, Mountfields Park, Ploughbank Drive, Ploughmans Drive, Plymouth Gardens, Polyanthus Drive, Spring Thyme Fold, and Windlesham Court.
The largest number of different letters in a road name is 18. Of the 4 road names for which this is the case, the shortest is Back Springfield Mount with only I and N recurring.
The largest number of different letters in a place name is 15. Of the 13 place names for which this is the case, the shortest are Bridge of Muchalls, Kempston Hardwick, and Michaelston-y-Fedw – each with only a single letter recurring.
The most times the same letter appears in a place name is 6. Of the 12 place names where this is the case, the shortest is Moorwood Moor.
There are 43 place names with all letters in alphabetical order. The longest, with 6 letters, is Gilnow. I did turn up the name ‘Achilty’, which would be longer, but I can’t actually find an inhabited place with this name! If we allow repeated letters, the longest become Gillmoss, and Hillmoor.
There are 29 place names with all letters in reverse-alphabetical order. The longest, with 5 letters, is Tonge.
There are no place or road names starting with the letter ‘X’. The road name with the most ‘X’s in it is Felix Baxter Drive.
The place name with the most double-letters is Royal Wootton Bassett with 4. The road names with the most double-letters are Ffordd Dillwyn-Llewellyn and Ffordd Ffriddoedd with 5. The street with the most consecutive double letters is Sweettooth Lane.
Only one road name has triple letters, and that’s Richard III Road.
The public road with the highest number in it is Hortonwood 67.
The only place name to contain Roman numerals is Ruyton-XI-Towns.
The longest road name which can be typed using only the top row of a QWERTY keyboard (and space) is Pottery Row (#2). The longest place name which can be typed using only the top row of a QWERTY keyboard (and space) is Upper Tote.
The longest road name which can be typed using only the middle row of a QWERTY keyboard (and space) is Ash Fall. The longest place names which can be typed using only the middle row of a QWERTY keyboard (and space) are Halsall, and Hassall.
The place name with the highest Scrabble score is North Leverton with Habblesthorpe with a score of 54 (note 2). The place name with the highest average Scrabble letter value is Wix with 4.33. The longest place names made up of letters with a Scrabble value of 1 are Littlestone-on-Sea and Alltan an t-Salainn.
The street name with the highest Scrabble score is Blairmuckhole And Forrestdyke Road with a score of 57. The street names with the highest average Scrabble letter value are Zig Zag and Jex Way with 4.33. The longest road names made up of letters with a Scrabble value of 1 are Little Russell Street and Littleton Street East.
The order of frequency of letters in place names is: eonrlatshidgcwbmyupkfvxzqj
The order of frequency of letters in road names is: eraolsntdcihwugmvybpkfxqjz
Zurich Gardens is located near to somewhere I visit fairly regularly, so I decided to go and take a photo of the sign. When I was setting off, I looked in my A-Z for directions, and I saw this…
WHAT?! Another road name after Zurich Gardens?
I struggled to find it on the map at first, but after locating it, I decided to visit and see what was going on. It turns out that it’s not a road, it’s an apartment block (although there is a short private road through the property). Apparently some apartment blocks are listed in the A-Z!
In the OS data, the well-known long-named Welsh town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is named Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll. I have no idea why. It’s possible this is its official name, I don’t know. The full-length version of the name has a length of 58, and a Scrabble score of 110.