A little taste of Egypt in Nottingham

How do they give names to the streets and roads of England? Well, there are lots of methods. Let’s take a quick look at Nottingham.

They are named after famous people (Shakespeare Street). They are named after the people who used to live there (Friargate) and the activities that used to happen there (Fletchergate….fletchers make arrows, or it’s from the word “flesh” which is what butchers sell you). Where the road goes to. (Hucknall Road). Who owned the land (Thackeray’s Lane). What the church is called (St Peter’s Gate). What building is there (Castle Gate). After events that happened in history. (Standard Hill…..where King Charles I first raised his banner and began forming an army at the outset of the English Civil War on August 22nd 1642.)

“Gata” incidentally is an old Viking word for street and will date back to 867AD when Nottingham was captured by the dreaded Northmen.

During the house building boom in the suburbs of Nottingham during the late 19th century and the early 20th century, the builder would often name streets after his own family. Here is an example in West Bridgford. Look for the Orange Arrow, wearing his anti-Covid mask:

The only problem is that we can recognise the first names such as Florence, Mabel and Violet,  but what was their surname? Was it Crosby or Trevelyan? So often they seem to miss this detail out, or  not to make it too obvious which name it is.

Has this builder tried his best to make it obvious by putting all of the first names around the surname “Musters” ?

Exactly the same thing was still going on in the mid-1970s when we moved into suburbia ourselves. The same problem remained, though. What was the surname? Our house was at the end of the Orange Arrow. The fourth one down the hill from the little gap which had an old oak tree in it.

Strangest of all, though, in Nottingham, are the streets which are all, clearly, named after a particular event, or even after another country. Between 1880-1900, the theme in a particular suburb of Nottingham, namely New Basford, was Egypt. This was a working class area with a huge number of terraced houses, and somebody, somewhere, decided to name the streets there in such a way as to commemorate the British involvement in Egypt, although I have been unable to ascertain any definite answer to that simple question….”Why now? ”   Was it to commemorate Nelson’s victory in the Battle of the Nile in 1798 ? Or the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 ? I just don’t know.  Perhaps it was because of events in 1882. Wikipedia says that :

“After increasing tensions and nationalist revolts, the United Kingdom invaded Egypt in 1882, crushing the Egyptian army at the Battle of Tell El Kebir and militarily occupying the country. Following this, the Khedivate became a de facto British protectorate under nominal Ottoman sovereignty”.

Whatever the answer, we now have, in New Basford, an Egypt Road, a Cairo Street, a Delta Street, a Suez Street and a Rosetta Road :

Do we all understand these references ?

Well, first of all, in the photograph below, there’s Egypt Street on the left, the home of Ramesses the Great and the Arab world’s greatest rock group, Mo Salah and the Pyramids. As a bonus, there’s also an excellent view of the junction with Suez Street :

Suez also has a canal. Here it is during the rush hour. It looks like the US Navy has brought its aircraft out to sunbathe:

Cairo is famous for its rush hour although I was really disappointed that it was cars not camels. Camels are far too clever to get into this kind of mess :

And here’s Cairo Street, once the traffic has thinned out a little. Watch out for that camel behind you!

Here’s the Nile Delta, which has its very own rush hour, but with dhows rather than supertankers :

Last and most famous is the Rosetta Stone, commissioned by Pharaoh Ptolemy V and found in the city of Rosetta two thousand years later, decorated with the same thing written in three different languages.

Firstly, there are hieroglyphics for the priests, then Demotic, the native Egyptian script used for everyday business, and Ancient Greek, the language of the civil service. At this time Egypt was ruled over by Greek speakers after Alexander the Great conquered the country :

Notice how somebody has put a magnifying glass over each bit, so that you can see the differences. Rosetta Road has no such problems over communication, because 99% of the time, it is deserted, except for cars:

Originally the French had the Rosetta Stone, but after Admiral Nelson beat them in the Battle of the Nile, the English took it to the British Museum where, even now, it is the most visited thing in the whole museum. I thought that title might have belonged to the toilets:



Filed under Africa, Aviation, History, Humour, Nottingham

33 responses to “A little taste of Egypt in Nottingham

  1. As T S Eliot might have said…”The Naming of Streets is a difficult matter,
    It isn’t just one of your holiday games”

    I think these days street naming has to be approved by the local authority. When I worked at South Holland District Council the Planning Committee refused to approve “Apple Pie Close”

    • A lot of first-time buyer houses were built on rough land near my Dad’s house and he suggested they named the streets after some of the village’s war dead, even if they had to draw them out of a hat. The district council refused this “war-mongering” suggestion and, because a bloke used to keep chickens down there, they named all the streets after birds such as falcon, partridge, merlin, kingfisher, kestrel and so on. My suggestion of “Tit Close” didn’t make the cut, however.

  2. Delightfully fascinating, John

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. My favourite bit was finding a picture of an aircraft carrier in the Suez Canal. When I was a student, I travelled all round Europe one summer and when I was in Venice, an aircraft carrier was on a courtesy visit. I was much more impressed with that, than with Venice! It was so big, absolutely gigantic. Probably bigger than the city’s cathedral.

  3. Interesting how we can learn a bit of history in the choice of street names.

    • Yes, indeed. I tried to pick some that had an explanation that most people could understand. Some streets have too obscure a reason for their name, such as Cranmer Street (he was the leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Henry VIII) Some streets are named after long forgotten, petty victories in faraway colonial wars such as Magdala Road and Zulla Road.
      I will be exploring this topic in the future, and I hope everybody will be as entertained as they seem to have been by the Egyptian connection.

  4. I think a post about some street and town names around Ballarat may interest you. I will put my mind to it.

  5. It would be interesting, perhaps, to see whether the street naming changed profoundly after 1901 when Australia became a dominion. Are any of the new ethnic groups commemorate in street names?

    • I’ll jump in here that I do know some streets with Germanic names were renamed as a consequence of WWI.

      • There were at least three roads in Nottingham which had German names. They were off Woodborough Road and were named Mecklenburgh Road, Hamburgh Road and Coburgh Road. The City Council renamed them Malvern Road, Hampstead Road and Corby Road. This occurred as late as 1917, possibly on June 19, when the King himself was forced to change his own name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor. Feelings ran high in Nottingham, as this article shows:

      • Very interesting interview. Must have been pretty frosty at school the next day when the children of the butchers and the children of the attackers got together. They’d probably been best mates the week before.

  6. Here in our capital and big cities many roads and places and even hospitals have names given by the British and over the years politicians have been busy renaming them 😊 . But it is difficult to forget the old names and the new Indian names are rarely used. Interesting post. Thank you.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Lakshmi. There are at least a couple of streets in Nottingham which have changed names, and they have signs which read, for example, “Peel Street”, formerly “Babbington Street”. I can’t imagine, though, that after so many years, anybody ever comes looking for Babbington Street !

  7. A fascinating read John. I’ve often wondered about street names, some are indeed obvious but others, you look at and think ‘how much had they had to drink when they thought that one up!’ Aside from the naming business, my father took a lot of photos of ships passing through the Suez Canal, as he was stationed near there in the late 40s early 50s. He has one of HMS Amethyst on its return after the ‘Yanste’ incident.

    • Wow! That is really impressive. I have never been able to figure out the Suez Crisis, beyond the fact that the Egyptians seized the Suez Canal and we, the French and the Israelis then tried to get it back. As far as I can see, the USA objected to that, so everybody essentially went home. Just imagine what would have happened if the Panamanians had seized the Americans’ canal!

  8. What a fascinating post. I came to you from Paol’s post. You know in Ethiopia there is a similar stone. It’s huge and it has three different languages. It is housed in a tin shed in a paddock/field. At least it was 15 years ago when I saw it. But I hope it has either been saved or protected. But there’s been a war up there. It had the old Geez language on it which the priests still use but don’t understand – a bit like Latin.
    And your Cairo is very different from the Egyptian one. I’ve been in a taxi there. Crazy ++.

    • Ethiopia seems to be a very neglected land in terms of its history and the many different religions that seem all to have their tale to tell.
      I was absolutely fascinated by the photograph of the traffic jam. It would look good poster-size, perhaps displayed on the walls of various public buildings to keep people amused as they wait their turn.

  9. Interesting how builders get to name the streets, thank you for sharing!

    Wouldn’t it be lovely to live on a street with a great name like Rosetta Street? Certainly more interesting than “First Street” or “Second Street” or the more ironic “Oak Street” or “Maple Street”…

  10. Jan

    Given his love of the game, I always thought it so appropriate that OHL lived on Wimbledon Road.

    • I didn’t know that, but it is, of course, a perfect fit for him. He really loved tennis. Oswald seemed to make a clean break with the High School, so when I googled him, I was a little sad to read
      His brother back in Ireland was a top film and theatrical impresario, who regularly met the old Hollywood film stars. He used to be on the internet, but I couldn’t find him when I just googled “Lush impresario”. I don’t remember his first name, unfortunately.

      • Jan

        I have heard the reason for Ozzie’s break with the school and, if true, does not reflect well on some very senior staff in the common room at the time.

        His brother, Harry, was also a keen sportsman and had a trial with Man Utd. Before becoming manager of the Dublin Odeon was Harry was a schoolmaster.

        As a son of the Protestant Ascendancy, it was fitting that he should be the author of a Gaelic grammar and (I believe) one-time teacher of the language to Eammon De Valera.

        Ozzie was a lovely bloke.

  11. Jeff

    I used to work with a chap called Wilkins who lived on Shaw Gardens in Clifton. There was a Shaw living just up the road on Wilkins Gardens. The Royal Mail were always getting their post mixed up.

    • As a student I had a job as a temporary postman. All was well when Dr Wallace lived at a large house called “Greenacres” but when he left and sold it to Dr Goodacres, postal carnage ensued, with most people seemingly unable to work out which name was the house and which was the man!

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