Wednesday 29 March 2017 8.57am
After London grew substantially in the 19th century, many streets bore first names such as Mary. One reason for this was speculative builders creating fresh streets and naming them after their daughters.
In itself this isn't decisive, but I noticed Alexis Street (which is both a girl's and boy's name) leads to Linsey Street.
It's natural to assume street names arise for a specific reason, with reference to a famous person, place or whatever. This is true for some streets. However, after researching a few names I've discovered there can be other explanations.
For example, a few years ago someone wrote to this forum from Sri Lanka, asking if Colombo Street
had a link to their country. When I checked I found the street previously was known as Collingwood Street.
Against the background mentioned earlier, in the 1930s London County Council acted to rationalise street names across the capital to remove repetition, so taxis didn't take people to the wrong place and so on.
At that time half a dozen local councils had a street called Collingwood. The LCC asked each authority either to make a case for retaining that name (with just one lucky winner), or to change it to something else.
At this point a local historian helped me by pointing out 'Collingwood' and 'Colombo' start with the same 3 letters. He said the word Colombo had probably been chosen to replace Collingwood in a haphazard way, with a council official looking for an alternative in an atlas or newspaper. It's unlikely there was a specific Ceylon / Sri Lanka connection.
If you wish you could send an enquiry to Southwark's Local History Library. Good luck with your search.