Whidborne Street, WC1H

Place Name

According to the UCL Bloomsbury Project this street is most likely named after the Reverend George Ferris Whidborne (August 6, 1845 – February 14, 1910). After studying at Cambridge he was ordained Deacon in London in 1881 and as a priest the following year. He was then Curate of St Pancras, from 1881 – 1886 before moving to St Paul’s, Onslow Square, for two years. He was later made Vicar of St George’s, Battersea, and was a benefactor of the nearby Holy Cross Church, where he gave the land for its building. A wealthy man, he was a nephew of John James Spencer Lucas, who made his fortune from whaling. Outside of the church he spent more than 20 years studying the Devonian fauna of the South West of England in the annual volumes of the Palaeontographical Society. His son, born in 1890, who shared his name, was killed during the First World War and awarded the Military Cross. In 1891, the East End Dwellings Company, which had been founded seven years earlier by the clergyman and social reformer Samuel Barnett to provide housing for the poor, purchased slum properties on the north side of Cromer Street. Four parallel streets intersected the dwellings, namely modern Whidborne Street, Tankerton Street, Midhope Street, and Loxham Street. Gillian Bebbington in London Street Names has suggested they were all named after company directors but it may also have included well-wishers and benefactors. Either way, when this was first laid out in the 1810s it was called Brighton Street. The area was developed from 1801 by a landowner and tin-plate worker, Joseph Lucas, who owned a seven-acre site between Gray’s Inn Road and the ancient Boot pub, which still exists, on the corner of Cromer Street and Judd Street. Prior to its development, it had been fields. It had been renamed by 1919. The Camden History Society says the origins of the original name are uncertain but it may have been inspired by auctioneer William Forrester Bray, the 1820s developer of nearby streets, was was also a sometime proprietor of the Brighton Herald.

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