Whats in a street name anyway?

DSC 4927 - Whats in a street name anyway?

“What’s in a name? That which we call Goodge Street, by any other name would spell Odge Reet.”
(Quote from Shakespeare’s one and only Fitzrovian play – Mortimer and Charlotte.)
Odge Reet? Whatever is that!
Its a half name for Goodge Street. For decades it was covered over so no-one would know 🙂
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Odge Reet – the proof!
It was a long time ago, perhaps 60 years, when this particular street sign was chopped in half.
You see, some names have instant approval. Like Bakerloo. Others just dont appeal at all.
Odge Reet was one of those latter attempts. A bodge. No attraction whatsoever 🙂
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A wrap up! Goodge Street and Odge Reet in one picture.

How did Odge Reet come about?

Its a mystery no-one has written about this before now. If it’s been like that for years someone would surely have noticed? Neither Londonist, nor Ian Visits, Diamond Geezer and others have had a go.
Clearly a half-street-sign is of no use – not even for a bit of satire 🙁
Though the adverts themselves disappeared sometime ago the wood struts anchoring these against the wall continued to obscure the half-a-sign until 2014.
Once those struts were removed the half-a-street-name sign became even more obvious.
I resort to the ever useful street view to prove this. Below is a view from July 2014 – the last recorded instance of the wood struts on the wall of No.21 Goodge Street.
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Google’s view showing the remaining wooden struts which held the adverts.
19 Goodge Street was built in the 1950s yet ‘Odge Reet’ is actually next door.
THE BIG QUESTION: Why is number 19 a newer property?
Blame WWII bomb damage. 27-29 Whitfield Street were flattened. 19 escaped serious damage however its likely huge timber framework was erected to prevent it collapsing into the Whitfield void.
The present 27-29 Whitfield Street were built in the early 1950s so the new 19 must have followed.
THE SECOND BIG QUESTION: Why was the old street sign shared across nos.19 and 21?
Normally street names are on corners for maximum visibility. But ‘Odge Reet’ tells us there was no sign on the corners of the old no.19.
Looking around Fitzrovia I found some examples that throw light on the mystery of Odge Reet.
Take Foley Street, a couple of blocks away. This example shows its possible there was nowhere to paint Goodge Street on the corner of the old no.19. Perhaps it had fancy walls, embellishments, or balconies that prevented this.
The painted Foley Street sign fitted quite snugly. The modern one, being larger, wouldn’t fit over the old so was placed across two properties, like at Odge Reet. Interestingly the new one is poorer in terms of sightlines.
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Foley Street example shows the old sign’s tighter spot & the new one in a roomier location.
A further example found in Candover Street shows another variation, illustrating the importance of sightlines. The new sign was placed where it would be more visible than the old.
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Candover St – the new street name sign is placed for better viewing.
In terms of Odge Reet, the old painted sign (the full Goodge Street) was clearly in the best possible location. When it came to rebuilding 19 Goodge Street, the sign was halved. No-one considered painting it over. Rarely was this done. It explains why many old painted street signs in London survive.
Mystery solved!

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