PEOPLE IN Derry may be surprised to learn that the history of the street in which they live may lie in the name itself. The Journal’s SEAN McLAUGHLIN takes a look at the history of the city’s street names – past and present – and, in the process, uncovers some interesting facts.
Some Derry streets indicate the place to which they lead – Fahan Street, Buncrana Road, Limavady Road, Dungiven Road etc., - while others have taken their name from religious connections – St. Columb’s Court, Chapel Road, Abbey Street and Deanery Street.
Streets were called after members of the British royal family such as Albert Street and Victoria Road while past mayors of the city have also left an indelible mark – Hogg, Stanley, Kennedy and Lecky.
Many names derive from occupations such as distilling i.e. Distillery Brae, while others earned their name from erstwhile occupations such as tanning and nailmaking i.e. Tanner’s Row, off William Street, and Nailor’s Row.
Other streets were named after famous people – Nelson, Blucher and Wellington – and in some cases their battles – Waterloo.
Other notables were hymn writer CF Alexander (Alexander Memorial Cottages) and Micah Browning (Browning Drive), the commander of the Mountjoy which broke the boom during the Siege of Derry 1688-89.
In a number of areas, local land owning families such as Bond, Montgomery, Tillie, Brewster and Fox had streets named after them.
In the Waterside, the White family had their Christian names added to the street – Barnwall Place and Margaret Street.
What follows in a list of some streets and the origin of their names:
The Diamond – anciently the Market Place but for a short period was officially known as King William Square.
Shipquay Street – formerly Silver Street, descends from the Diamond to Shipquay Gate where the outlet from the old walled town to the original quay was located.
Ferryquay Street – at first Gracious Street. Obtained its name became it led from the Diamond to the Ferry Gate, the latter being the nearest outlet to the original ferry connecting with the Waterside.
Butcher Street – formerly styled Shambles Street which implies there was once a public abbatoir and butchers shops situated here.
Bishop Street – originally known as Queen Street, then Bishop’s Gate Street. Evidently obtained its present name from the Bishop’s Palace which was erected here during the time of Dr. Bernard (1746-1768).
Abbey Street – commemorate the Franciscan abbey situated in the neighbourhood until the Plantation.
Abercorn Road and Abercorn Place – so called after the Abercorn family, of which the Duke of Abercorn is the head.
Asylum Road – obviously so termed because of the adjacent lunatic asylum – as it was known at the time.
Albert Street – so called in honour of Prince Albert, Consort to Queen Victoria.
Argyle Street and Glasgow Terrace – situated in the district known as the ‘Scotch Quarter’ and then mainly occupied by Scottish workers employed in Biggar’s Shipyard.
Hogg’s Folly and Brown O’ the Hill – at the end of the street known as Hogg’s Folly lies a district known as ‘The Quarries’. More than 200 years ago, an Alderman of the city named Hogg owned the property. He decided to reclaim portion of the quarry and with enormous energy and great expenditure set about covering it with green foliage, rockeries and trees in which he built himself a residence. So impossible did his task look that the citizens openly referred to it as ‘Hogg’s Folly’ Alderman Hogg’s demesne and residence became the residence of the very celebrated Bishop, Most Rev. Dr. McGinn, who styled it the ‘Brow O’ the Hill’. The property was later occupied by the Christian Brothers and, then, St Columb’s College.
Bond’s Hill and Bond Street – called after the Bond family who owned the land. William Bond was, in 1798, a member of the United Irishmen.
Castle Street – so called after the site of the old castle of Sir Cahir O’Doherty.
Carlisle Road – named in honour of Earl Carlisle, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who opened Carlisle Bridge in 1863.
Crawford Square – called after Mr. Law Crawford, who built the first houses here.
Duncreggan Road – obtained its name from the adjoining residence Duncreggan, built by William Tillie, one of the city’s early shirt manufacturers.
Ebrington Street – so called after the Viscount Ebrington, Lord Lieutenant, who opened Ebrington Barracks.
Holywell Street and St Columb’s Wells – these streets were named after the ancient holy well located in the neighbourhood.
Great James Street and Little James Street – are said to have secured their names from King James.
Lecky Road – called after the Lecky family, one of whom was Mayor of the city.
Lawrence Hill – called after the brothers Lawrence, who were educated at Foyle College and later gained fame in India.
Mountjoy Street – named after the ‘Mountjoy’, the ship that broke the Boom in 1689.
Marlborough Street – named after the Duke of Marlborough.
Mitchelburn Terrace – called after Colonel Mitchelburn, governor of Derry during the Siege.
Northland Road – so called because the district in which it is located was called Northland before the city limits were extended in that direction.
Nailor’s Row – commemorated the fact that the making of nails was once a necessary handicraft in Derry.
Sackville Street – reputedly named after Sackville Street in Dublin which is now O’Connell Street.
Stanley’s Walk – called after Alderman Peter Stanley who left his property to benefit the poor.
Waterloo Street – styled when the historic victory over Napoleon was in the public mind – formerly known as the ‘cow bog’.
Windmill Terrace – commemorates the windmill mentioned during the Siege of 1688-89, the remains of which are located in the grounds of Lumen Christi College.