Learning street layouts: London

I don’t often go to London (capital cities are generally too large for such a lover of peace and quiet) but when I have been there, I haven’t really known my way around. I’ve decided to do something about that: systematic learning of the major streets. I feel a bit silly constructing silly mnemonics publically, but since that’ll be part of how I do it, I might as well share them to save others the effort.

There are a few other cities I go to from time to time, that I’ll also learn, and will probably put notes on those here too.

Since my most regular London activity is an annual bike ride, one of my aims will be to have a feel for where I am during the ride. The ride starts from Hyde Park, so that’s one of my base points for learning routes; and other landmarks I’ll mark in bold will mostly be places I remember from the ride from past years. I bring the bike by Land Rover, and have found an area is suitable for parking in and cycling from, so I’ll include that. And the Shoreditch area, where I go for tattoos.

North of the Thames

East-West roads

Working from north to south. London is nothing like a grid, so some of these aren’t that close to east-west.

  • A bit north of Hyde Park, Marylebone Road comes down from its flyover, then passes south of Regent’s Park, then becomes:
    • Euston Road, which passes Euston Station, St Pancras Station, and Kings Cross Station
    • Pentonville Road
    • City Road, which curves south and crosses Old Street
  • From the north-east corner of Hyde Park, which is called Marble Arch, we have Oxford Street going east, leading onto these, for which I have the mnemonic of an “Old, Oxford-educated clerk called Theobald Bloomsbury“:
    • Bloomsbury Way
    • Theobalds Road
    • Clerkenwell Road
    • Old Street
  • Another string of streets, of which Holborn is the main one, splits off Oxford Street to the south:
    • Earnshaw Street
    • St Giles High Street
    • High Holborn
    • Holborn
    • Holborn Viaduct
    • Newgate Street
    • passes St Paul’s Cathedral
    • Cheapside
    • Poultry
    • Cornhill
  • From the south-east corner of Hyde Park, which is called Wellington Arch, we have Piccadilly going east (and a bit north), to Piccadilly Circus. It then continues as:
    • Coventry Street, Swiss Court, Leicester Square
    • Cranbourn Street, Long Acre
    • Great Queen Street
    • Crosses Kingsway
    • Remnant Street
    • Joins Lincolns Inn Fields
  • Also from Wellington Arch, Constitution Hill goes directly east, to Buckingham Palace and The Mall, then to Trafalgar Square

North-south roads

  • Edgeware Road comes in from the north, and passes Kilburn, and changes names several times, and back again
    • At Marble Arch, it becomes Park Lane
    • At Wellington Arch, it becomes Grosvenor Place
    • At Victoria, where there is a coach station I’ve used in the past
    • Not quite as a direct continuation, Vauxhall Bridge Road leads on from Victoria
  • From Regent’s Park, Portland Place goes south, and becomes Regent Street, which leads to Piccadilly Circus
  • Camden High Street comes in from the north, and:
    • becomes Hampstead Road at Mornington Crescent
    • crosses Euston Road a bit west of Euston Station
    • becomes Tottenham Court Road
    • crosses Oxford Street
    • becomes Charing Cross Road
    • passes Trafalgar Square
    • becomes Whitehall, and Parliament Street
    • runs to Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey, where Westminster Bridge almost joins it
    • continues as Old Palace Yard, Abingdon Street, and Millbank
    • Lambeth Bridge joins it
    • then Vauxhall Bridge
    • then it heads west, as Grosvenor Road
  • Gower Street parallels Tottenham Court Road
  • Eversholt Street splits from Hampstead Road at Mornington Crescent
    • at Euston Road, it becomes Upper Woburn Place, then Tavistock Square, Woburn Place, Russell Square, Southampton Row
    • at Holborn, it becomes Kingsway, which passes near Lincoln’s Inn Fields and runs to Aldwych
  • Gray’s Inn Road starts from King’s Cross, and runs to Holborn

South of the Thames

I can’t make this into anything like a grid.

Radially from Elephant and Castle

  • St George’s Road goes west-north-west, and merges with Westminster Bridge Road, to Westminster Place, which is near Forum Magnum Square and near Waterloo Station, and from where Westminster Bridge heads west
  • London Road goes north-west, to St George’s Circus, where it splits:
    • Waterloo Road goes to Waterloo Bridge
    • Blackfriars Road goes to Blackfriars Bridge
  • Newington Causeway goes north and slightly east
    • It becomes Borough High Street, and goes over London Bridge
    • Southward Bridge Road leads off it, and goes over Southwark Bridge
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