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Colombo Street - the origin?

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Thursday 24 January 2013 10.52am
Thank you, samlouise01, for pointing me in the direction of the website. It has enabled me to prove to my older sister the fisherman's cottages did still exist when we were children just after the war, she is the one who always remembers things and events and I am the one who is usually forgetful. I suppose that the cottages made a bigger impression on me than they did on my sister as we collected hairy jack caterpillars from the boundary wall of Christchurch, or perhaps I attempted to collect caterpillars more often than she did. I do know that even as a child of 7-8 I loved the cottages they were quaint and picturesque and much more attractive than the building that replaced them which was Sainsburys canteen and leisure centre, part of Running Horse Yard which fronted onto Blackfriars Road, later to become the Colombo Centre.
Thank you for prompting those old memories.
Thursday 24 January 2013 3.04pm
The cottages Thebunhouse discusses are shown on the map called '1936 to 1952 mix' on the Council's website. Click Maps on the homepage, then any link under the words Southwark Maps and select that map from the right hand menu.
Thursday 14 February 2013 12.15am
After the interest Sohan's post about Colombo Street generated I called at Southwark Local History Library. The answer seems to be the name doesnít mark a specific connection with Colombo in 1930s Ceylon (Sri Lanka) or anything else. Please note that what follows corrects part of my original post.

In this period the London County Council and the old, smaller pre-1965 Metropolitan Borough of Southwark were both involved in street renaming. Iím advised decision-making power lay with the LCC, which might consult a borough on a proposed change and suggested new name.

The previous Southwark Council had a General Purposes, Law & Parliamentary Committee to which various sub-committees reported, including one for Street Renaming. The General Purposes Committee minutes for 1935-36 refer to London County Council submitting a list of 145 streets in Southwark where the county authority was requesting alternative names be introduced to avoid repetition. Colombo Streetís predecessor Collingwood Street was on the list, which stated this name was also in use in Chelsea, Woolwich and Bethnal Green.

The LH Library holds printed minutes from the former MB of Southwark in the library but archives the original bound committee books off-site. The librarian invited me to request the bound volumes in case the original typed record contained something which didnít make it into the official record.

I found Southwark accepted a change of name in 93 cases out of 145, which included Collingwood Street becoming Colombo St. Here as in most cases, the original minute simply records bare approval of the suggested name. Occasionally there are comments from Southwark on the proposal. Meanwhile MBS sought to retain the names of 52 streets.

I donít know what the final outcomes were there. But I checked Google Maps and discovered today thereís only one Collingwood Street in London, in Bethnal Green. It would appear this was the upshot after its onetime counterparts in Woolwich, Chelsea and Southwark were renamed.

Why Colombo? A well-known local historian who was working in the library helpfully commented on the fact the first three letters of the new and old names are the same, which implies the change was functional. He added the process in which alternative names were chosen in these situations was ďmechanicalĒ.

Apparently the LH library regularly receives enquiries from abroad about street names such as Nebraska and Gambia, with the person understandably seeking the local connection to their country - a connection which sadly doesnít exist. Several street names do commemorate places, people and so on. But others donít, with international and other names often being incidental Ė as with most of the 93 streets caught up in this 1936-37 anti-repetition drive.

I was also advised itís unlikely the London Metropolitan Archives, which holds LCC papers, will yield any further information on the change from Collingwood to Colombo Street. At this point Iím bowing out, but others are welcome to check.
Thursday 9 May 2013 4.25am
Lionel wrote:
After the interest Sohan's post about Colombo Street generated I called at Southwark Local History Library. The answer seems to be the name doesnít mark a specific connection with Colombo in 1930s Ceylon (Sri Lanka) or anything else. Please note that what follows corrects part of my original post.
....

I was also advised itís unlikely the London Metropolitan Archives, which holds LCC papers, will yield any further information on the change from Collingwood to Colombo Street. At this point Iím bowing out, but others are welcome to check.

Thank you so much Lionel, for taking the time and the trouble to collect all the information that you have posted here. I live in Sri Lanka, and though I've been to London before(and loved it), I would be hard pressed to travel there to find this information myself! Had I been aware of Colombo street then, I definitely would have paid a visit when I went to Southwark. Even though it seems that name Colombo street was a outcome of a mechanical renaming process as your research suggests, I guess that at least to some of us, the name signifies a little more than what was originally intended!

You may be interested to know that many of Colombo's own street names, especially in its older areas, are of colonial vintage, named after various governors and other important personalities of the time (although there are no streets named London road, there is a main thoroughfare in the Colombo Fort area called Chatham street; although sharing a name with the Medway town, it must have been named specifically after a colonial personality, about whom I am sadly quite unaware) However in recent years most of the Colombo roads have also undergone extensive renaming, so the current names reflect a more local character. But in the process we've lost a little bit of our colonial history.

As for Jumbo's blog on the provenance of the names of Colombo's roads, it's quite an interesting read to a committed Colombian (I guess that is already taken, lol! Maybe Colombar?) like myself!

Thank you boroughonian for the picture of the 'Ceylon wharf, which I assume does not exist anymore, although there seems to be an apartment complex of the same name in Southwark (in the original site I assume?)

I also found a Ceylon road in Kensington, though it too may be a part of a rote renaming process, or who knows. maybe there is a little more history there.

Anyway thank you everyone, especially Lionel, for taking the trouble to answer my question.
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