Where am I – is it London or is it Katesgrove?

You could be forgiven for thinking you were in Katesgrove rather than the centre of the metropolis.

Southampton Street WC2 was apparently named after Sir Thomas Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton [ref 1]. Southampton Street in Katesgrove is so named because that is where it goes.

Northumberland Avenue WC2 was named after Northumberland House which was demolished in 1874 to build the road. The Duke of Northumberland still lived there until 1866 when he reluctantly sold it [ref 2]. The naming of Northumberland Avenue that tumbles down the slope from Katesgrove to Whitley on the number 5 bus route is, no doubt, buried in council minutes somewhere. It doesn’t appear marked and named on maps until 1911. In 1905 it was a new street approved by the council along with Cintra Avenue, Warwick Road, Mildmay Road, Sutherlands Avenue, Talfourd Avenue, Morgan Road, Melrose Avenue, Belle Avenue and Wellington Avenue [ref 3].

One theory might be that it has something to do with ‘Whitley (Bay)’ being in Northumberland, but now part of Tyne and Wear. Northumberland Avenue was certainly named at the same time as Newcastle Road and later followed by Hexham Close, all from the same part of the world. However doubts are cast on this idea by the fact that alongside Northumberland Avenue and Newcastle Road, property advertisements of the time suggested that there was to be a Carlisle Road and a Lichfield Road in the same area [ref 4].

Spring Gardens SW1 was apparently named after the season rather than the water feature and dates from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I [ref 5]. The Katesgrove Spring Gardens were probably named after both [ref 6].


  1. Southampton Street on British History Online
  2. Berkshire Chronicle 7 January 1905, online at findmypast.uk (subscription required). It has not been possible to locate a Mildmay Road in Reading today.
  3. Northumberland House
  4. Berkshire Chronicle 9 July 1905, online at findmypast.uk (subscription required)
  5. Spring Gardens on British History Online
  6. Katesgrove Streets – Spring Gardens