Back Alley, EC3N

Road in/near City of London, existing until now

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Road · City of London · EC3N ·

Back Alley is a small alleyway off of Northumberland Alley.

How we love to use figurative terms of description; they form such a distinctive part of our daily life that we would probably experience great difficulty if they were somehow barred from our vocabulary. Nicknames applied to friends (or enemies), relating to some particular feature of their make-up or a habit is an easy method of making reference to certain persons. For generations people have used terms and names of endearment in casual conversation and the necessity for such usage was even more so in times past than it is now.

Back Alley has been here, under the same name, for centuries and was quite simply the back access passage to houses on Aldgate, and because at that time it had no name, it was figuratively referred to as the ’Back Alley’. It now runs along the rear of the General Accident Insurance Company and, although it is still fairly narrow, its dimensions have been greatly increased over the years. Whereas there would have been many gateways along here in times past, there are now no access doors at all.

There were literally hundreds, if not thousands, of ’back’s’ in London but nearly all have long since been renamed or demolished and only one other survivor remains in the City: Back Hill, Clerkenwell.

In all parts of the country there are still un-named alleys at the rear of houses and in some areas the term ’backs’ is in use to this day. Gully, jitty, ginnel, entry, are all terms used to describe a minor thoroughfare without any formal name.

Many of London’s access roads and even some of today’s main roads started out as nothing more than narrow passages leading to back entrances of houses on major highways. As we walk around London, many of these are easily identifiable but others are not nearly so obvious.

Wandering down some of London’s ’back alleys’ can certainly be a satisfying and fascinating experience but there have always been those alleys where passage without necessity has been avoided like the dreaded plague. During the hours of darkness, narrow alleys behind old houses, where antiquated lamps give off poor lighting, or worst still, illumination is none existent, are all too frequently no-go areas. This situation not only applies to modern times, it has always been like that. Dingy black corners were the ideal lurking grounds for thieves and those intent on having a ’good time’ at the terrifying expense of their victims. Beware!

Main source

Citations and sources

Blog about E1 and the surrounding areas
Survey of London's Whitechapel Survey
Gillian Bebbington's 1972 work on street name derivations
The free encyclopedia

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The 1750 Rocque map is bounded by Sudbury (NW), Snaresbrook (NE), Eltham (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1750 map does not display.

The 1800 mapping is bounded by Stanmore (NW), Woodford (NE), Bromley (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1800 map does not display.

The 1830 mapping is bounded by West Hampstead (NW), Hackney (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Chelsea (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1830 map does not display.

The 1860 mapping is bounded by Brent Cross (NW), Stratford (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Hammermith (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1860 map does not display.

The 1900 mapping covers all of the London area.

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City of London

The City of London constituted most of London from its settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages, but the conurbation has since grown far beyond its borders.

As the City's boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, it is now only a tiny part of the metropolis of Greater London, though it remains a notable part of central London. It holds city status in its own right and is also a separate ceremonial county.

It is widely referred to as 'The City' (often written on maps as City and differentiated from the phrase 'the city of London') or 'the Square Mile' as it is 1.12 square miles in area. These terms are also often used as metonyms for the United Kingdom's financial services industry, which continues a notable history of being largely based in the City.

The local authority for the City, the City of London Corporation, is unique in the UK and has some unusual responsibilities for a local council, such as being the police authority. It also has responsibilities and ownerships beyond the City's boundaries. The Corporation is headed by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, an office separate from (and much older than) the Mayor of London.

The City is a major business and financial centre, ranking as the world's leading centre of global finance. Throughout the 19th century, the City was the world's primary business centre, and continues to be a major meeting point for businesses.

The City had a resident population of about 7000 in 2011 but over 300,000 people commute to it and work there, mainly in the financial services sector. The legal profession forms a major component of the northern and western sides of the City - especially in the Temple and Chancery Lane areas where the Inns of Court are located, of which two—Inner Temple and Middle Temple - fall within the City of London boundary.
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Cole's map of Aldgate Ward (1754) FREE DOWNLOAD
Aldgate Ward with its divisions into Precincts and Parishes according to a new Survey 1754. B. Cole
B. Cole

Central London, north east (1901) FREE DOWNLOAD
Central London, north east.
Stanford's Geographical Establishment. London : Edward Stanford, 26 & 27, Cockspur St., Charing Cross, S.W. (1901)

Cruchley's New Plan of London (1848) FREE DOWNLOAD
Cruchley's New Plan of London Shewing all the new and intended improvements to the Present Time. - Cruchley's Superior Map of London, with references to upwards of 500 Streets, Squares, Public Places & C. improved to 1848: with a compendium of all Place of Public Amusements also shewing the Railways & Stations.
G. F. Cruchley

Cary's New And Accurate Plan of London and Westminster (1818) FREE DOWNLOAD
Cary's map provides a detailed view of London. With print date of 1 January 1818, Cary's map has 27 panels arranged in 3 rows of 9 panels, each measuring approximately 6 1/2 by 10 5/8 inches. The complete map measures 32 1/8 by 59 1/2 inches. Digitising this map has involved aligning the panels into one contiguous map.
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John Rocque Map of London (1762) FREE DOWNLOAD
John Rocque (c. 1709–1762) was a surveyor, cartographer, engraver, map-seller and the son of Huguenot émigrés. Roque is now mainly remembered for his maps of London. This map dates from the second edition produced in 1762. London and his other maps brought him an appointment as cartographer to the Prince of Wales in 1751. His widow continued the business after his death. The map covers central London at a reduced level of detail compared with his 1745-6 map.
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Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1843) FREE DOWNLOAD
Engraved map. Hand coloured.
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Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1836) FREE DOWNLOAD
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Engraved map. Hand coloured. Relief shown by hachures. A circle shows "Extent of the twopenny post delivery."
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London Underground Map (1921).  FREE DOWNLOAD
London Underground map from 1921.
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The Environs of London (1865).  FREE DOWNLOAD
Prime meridian replaced with "Miles from the General Post Office." Relief shown by hachures. Map printed in black and white.
Published By J. H. Colton. No. 172 William St. New York

London Underground Map (1908).  FREE DOWNLOAD
London Underground map from 1908.
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Ordnance Survey of the London region (1939) FREE DOWNLOAD
Ordnance Survey colour map of the environs of London 1:10,560 scale
Ordnance Survey. Crown Copyright 1939.

Outer London (1901) FREE DOWNLOAD
Outer London shown in red, City of London in yellow. Relief shown by hachures.
Stanford's Geographical Establishment. London : Edward Stanford, 26 & 27, Cockspur St., Charing Cross, S.W. (1901)

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