Tickle Cock Bridge

Warning, this blog entry contains a completely legitimate use of the ‘c’ word, yes, there are one or two legitimate uses and not just in the town named Scunthorpe believe it or not, if you are easily offended then you probably don’t want to read the last paragraph.

Been looking up the history of the area I now live in and we have streets called Franciscan Road, Rectory Lane and Church Street and the history of the area says there was a monastery here during the Dark Ages. Tooting High Road is actually built over a road the Romans built from London (Londonium) to Chichester (Noviomagus Regnorum) so the history goes back 2,000 years but the area was farmland as Londonium was (and spookily still is) a massive five miles away. Tooting appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Totinges. Lower Tooting was held from Chertsey Abbey by Haimo, the Sheriff of Kent and his sidekick Deputy Dawg. Its Domesday assets were 1 church, 2½ ploughs and 5 acres of meadow which is surprising as I have to travel for about 30 minutes by car now to actually reach countryside. Mind you, if there was no traffic or traffic lights I could probably do it in 15 minutes. I still can’t think what use ½ a plough is though.

Around me is Blackshaw road, Colliers Wood, Smallwood Road and Burntwood Lane and during the Victorian ages this area was known as the furnace of London, there was lots of Industry around here because of the easy access to all the forests of Surrey in the next county. Further down the road is Fair Green were the Irish would bring their horses from Ireland and trade them. If you look closely at some of the older houses near Fair Green you will see that the brickwork is quite rough and this is because the Irish would take the cast-offs from the brickworks in Tooting, the ones that weren’t good enough to sell and they built houses to stay in whilst trading on the green.

However, I was chatting to someone the other day about the history of the area and she mentioned that she had been to Great Neck in New York and I thought that’s a great name and I wonder how it got that name and was there an area called Great Legs or even Great Ass. But it seems that the English can outdo America when it comes to naming streets or areas, you see, up in Castleford there is a pedestrian underpass called Tickle Cock Bridge. Now I’m curious as to how Tickle Cock Bridge got it’s name, it’s a dark dank area and one must assume it was where the ladies of the night plied their trade. It was recently rebuilt, widened and lightened, had a facelift but the designers decided to line the walls of the underpass with a tactile red flock material, as an allusion to its colourful history.

Castleford council renamed it to Tittle Cott but the local residents were up in arms and rather surprisingly, the Castleford Area Voice for the Elderly, an over-50s group, successfully organised a campaign to have the name Tickle Cock restored.

We have other interesting names, for example, in medieval times Sherborne Lane in London was known as Shitteborwelane, later Shite-burn lane and Shite-buruelane (possibly due to nearby cess pits) and more recently it seems in South Yorkshire that the road signs for Butt Hole Road, in Conisbrough keep disappearing – apparently by American tourists.

However, we probably beat the world in the most eye-popping name and that’s – wait for it – Gropecunt Lane. Who says the English don’t have a sense of humour? Between the 13th century and the 16th century it was a common name for an area where prostitutes plied their trade, not only in London but across the cuntry. It was normal practice for medieval street names to reflect their function, or the economic activity taking place within them, hence the frequency of names such as The Shambles, Silver Street, Fish Street, and Swinegate (pork butchers) in cities with a medieval history. Sadly, modern sensibilities has caused all of the Gropecunt Lanes to gradually be renamed into something less offensive, like Beaverstroke Pass. Apparently.

There’s more silliness here