Sunday, December 02, 2007

Did you know?

 You have entered

The anorak zone .

British Rail: The longest gap between stations is 48 miles between Carstairs and Lockerbie. There are two British Rail stations with the same names as separate London Underground stations. Redbridge (in Hampshire) and Preston Road (In Lancashire).  Monument in Newcastle is a third, but is technically owned by the Newcastle Metro now. If you add Hayes station (in Kent) to Harlington (in Bedfordshire) you get a 3rd station, Hayes and Harlington, in Middlesex.

UK roads: Normally, in England the roads are numbered on a clock system centred on London from 1 to 6 in a clockwise fashion. A road to the right of the A1 will start with a 1 etc. So the area between the A1 and the A2 has roads beginning with a 1, then between the A2 and A3 start with 3 etc. But the only exception is both sides of the A2 has roads starting with a 2. The reason for this is that due north of the A2 where you would expect it to switch to 1s, there is a strip of land a few miles wide and then the coast (Thames estuary). The 1 zone actually starts north of the estuary as otherwise it would strand a section of the one zone on a separate area of land from the rest. Obviously long roads cross zones, and are numbered on where one end is (which end is chosen probably follows a simple rule).

A roads are numbered on status. 1-9 being the longest, then tens, hundreds and thousands. Many A roads which are by passed are now split in pieces, the worst example being the A6, which used to start in Barnet, Hertfordshire. It has now, despite being the official boundary between zones, been downgraded due to the M25 to the A 1081, and now starts beyond Luton. Almost as bad, and twice as hard to navigate is the nearby A5 in Elstree, also in Hertfordshire. The road begins at Marble Arch, in Central London, and now becomes the A 5183  until Harpenden. There is no sense in this as there has been no by pass built, and the width of roads varies on many A roads such as the A5, but the number can and should continue from end to end. But B roads, probably because none are that long, start in three figures and continue to the thousands. If you go to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, just to the north is the B 1106. A few hundred yards along it is a roundabout crossing another B road. The B 1106. Both are a few miles long and were named officially. It happened when the authorities upgraded the east-west unclassified road crossing the B 1106 proper, and in their wisdom, decided to keep the name of an adjacent road, which was an official guarantee to create chaos.

Drive along Barking Road, which connects Canning Town in London to Barking, half way along where it crosses from E13 to E6 it also starts its numbers again. It reaches about 778, and then begins again at 1 ending at around 600 #2 in central Barking. Some roads don't go from A to B at all, but like West Heath Road in NW11 are branched. Naturally, more than 3 branches would be silly, but Tracey Street in SE11 had at least 4 (like the B1106) until it was blocked in the 1970s, and the other half was renamed. A similar exercise was undertaken only a year or so ago in Ham, Surrey, where Back Lane had a stray part to the north unconnected with the rest of it. Following comments from people like me, the council have now named the spare bit Wiggins Lane (after the row of cottages there). 

Association football: In 2003-4 season (and some time before) the largest town with no league team is St Helen's, with a population of just over 100,000

Company names shared: Unavoidably, several companies who operate in the same countries share the identical name. Few are more confusing than those who also sell similar products. The British electrical company Kenwood, founded by Mr Ken Wood, who mainly sell kitchen equipment, are now joined by the Japanese radio company, who were given permission to use the name in the UK, having previously used the name Trio. In a similar manner, two banks share the company names ABN, which stand for Ansbacher bank Nationale and Algemene bank Nederland. There is also Delsey, a toilet roll made by Kimberly Clark for 40 years plus from the 1950s, which overlapped with a French firm who arrived in the UK about 30 years after the loo roll but selling luggage. A large car sales company Henlys, where a local branch still has a road junction named after it (Henlys Corner) though it left over 20 years ago shares its name with a huge American bus manufacturer. Probably the biggest mixup is from Mazda, whose cars are made by Mr Matsuda, and the light bulbs made by General Electric, though both are also inspired by the Zoroastrian god of light of that name. I also doubt Telma make both soup and intercoolers for coaches. How did the name Johnson become associated with bathroom products? SC Johnson (you thought I meant the other sort?) in England make cleaning and related household products, as do Johnson and Johnson in the USA. Though the American firm is more medically biased, the product overlap is about 50%. There are three companies called Zeon doing similar products (a current record), the watch/electrical goods one, a neon sign one and (OK, not that similar) a rubber products one. Finally, for some weird reason, the song 'Woa, Canada, Canada for you' used by Air Canada, was then changed to replace the word 'Canada' with 'Bodyform' to advertise panty liners. Why Air Canada were prepared to become mentally connected with feminine hygiene can only be for a massive financial benefit. Silly sods!

Animal poop: Long ago when hunting was far more important, separate names were given for many different types of it. Otter and deer types are still in use: Otter-spraints Deer-fumet Boar-friants Badger-werderobe Hare-crotels Fox-waggying.

London postcodes: These follow alphabetical order after the 1's, which are the nearest to central London. There are a few exceptions, including one that starts again in the middle, but 3 were split from existing codes when the populations became too big, and are the only ones that don't fit at all. These are: SW20 (Raynes Park) split from SW19 (Wimbledon), NW11 (Golders Green) split from NW4 (Hendon) and SE28 (Thamesmead) split from SE2 (Abbey Wood).

At least two suburb names appear in three different English cities. Moorside is in Manchester, Leeds and Durham, and Shirley is in London, Birmingham and Southampton.

Also two postcodes slip beyond London altogether! NW7 (Mill Hill) has a small corner in Hertfordshire, which contains a caravan site, but almost half of E4 (Chingford) is in Essex. Similarly, when Middlesex was a county (pre 1965) only a tiny corner strayed south of the Thames, next to Laleham. But a bit of Surrey also crept north at Chertsey Lock. The Thames also gets breached by a tiny strip of Buckinghamshire in Wraysbury, itself short for Wyrardisbury. One theory (as I don't know why) is the river may have moved since the boundary was made. Another is if an estate covered both sides of the river it wouldn't usually be split.  While on abbreviated names, I just discovered Arbroath in Scotland is actually Aberbrothock. Not many people outside Aberbrothock know that... If you stand in the geographical centre of London at Charing Cross and look east along the river, the only part of South London that reaches north of this point is a small slice of Thamesmead. Continuing east, no other point rises that far north again. Going west, no points at all of south London go north of Charing Cross. The first place westwards to do this is between Maidenhead and Cookham in Berkshire.

Which road is Harrods on? Knightsbridge? No, it's on Brompton Road, Knightsbridge is only the district.

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