1. Whip-ma-wop-ma-gate- York
This tiny road in York has baffled tourists and residents alike as to its name and origins, because at just 35m long it is the city’s shortest street, with the longest name. Its original Saxon name was Whitnourwhatnourgate, which referred directly to its length of only 35m long, and meant “neither one thing nor the other.” It is also recognised that this meaning changed to “What a street,” which ridiculed its size. After the 16th Century its name was corrupted after it became a place to flog petty criminals, which is how the “Whip ma wop” part came into common usage. Nowadays it is to be found on many tourist postcards and photographs.
2. Tickle Cock Bridge- Castleford
The amusingly named tickle cock bridge is a railway underpass dating back to the 1890s. The rude name assigned to it comes from generations of local courting couples going there to get to know each other a little better. The underpass hit the headlines in 2010 when Wakefield Council tried to change it to the rather more straight-laced “Tittle Cott Bridge,” but thanks to a local campaign it was changed back to its original, cheekier name. A more “open” re-development of the site and the adjacent Carlton Lanes shopping centre have made tickle cock bridge underpass harder to use for the reasons that it acquired the name.
3. Butt Hole Road- Conisbrough
The road apparently was given its unfortunate name because of a communal water butt which used to be present in the area. The attention it received, including local youths baring their behinds whenever they passed the street and coach loads of American tourists arriving to see this amusing name for themselves became too much for those who lived there. Some residents moved out because they could not deal with the constant jokes made at their expense, or the fact that nobody believed their address even existed.
In 2009 the residents of Butt Hole Road, took action to end years of ridicule by paying £300 for a name change to “Archers Way,” in reference to the town’s castle, enabling them to finally live in peace.
4. The Land of Green Ginger- Hull
There is a lot of mystery surrounding the origins of one of Yorkshire’s oddest street names in Hull’s old town. It is said to have mysteriously changed from the more mundane “Old Beverley Street,” but nobody really knows why.
There are many theories, one being that in Medieval Times it was a place where ginger was sold and stored. Another is that it was named after a Dutch family who lived there in the 19th Century called “Lindegreen.” (green lime trees) and it derived from a corruption of their son’s name, Lindgroen Junior. Alternatively it could have been named after another family called “Landgrove,” and comes from “Landgrove Granger,” which means a walk or pathway to their residence. The name has been used in literature and was the title of a 1927 novel by Winifred Holtby plus a 1935 sequel to the story of Aladdin. The most interesting feature on the Land of Green Ginger is England’s smallest window on the George Hotel. This tiny piece of glass was used by the innkeepers to watch for passing coaches entering their courtyard.
5. Fanny Street
This street-name in Saltaire has a tragic history, as it was named after Sir Titus Salt’s second daughter who died at the age of nineteen. She was the second of the industrialist’s five children and born in 1841. While on holiday in Scarborough aged 17 Fanny was taken ill and diagnosed with tubercular phthisis, a wasting disease; which led to her death in 1861, days before her twentieth birthday. Most of the streets in Saltaire were named after Sir Titus’ family, but the name of Fanny is perhaps, these days, the most unusual.