Life at UCB through the eyes of our student bloggers

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

As you will have probably noticed, my name, Killoran, is quite unusual. It is the name of a town in Ireland and Scotland and has Gaelic connotations. I was also told by someone who knows these things that the “Kil” bit means church and therefore the whole thing means church of Oran.

That aside, my parents named me after a boat. Now boats are usually named after people, not the other way around, but then my parents always were unconventional.

Anyway, I like to think it was a beautiful sailing ship in full rig or a sleek cruiser belonging to some mega millionaire film star. Knowing my luck, it was actually a tug on the Thames. Mum was a Londoner after all.

But that got me thinking about names, and some of the names we see every day around us at University College Birmingham. Take street names: There’s Lionel, George and Charlotte, members of the Colmore family (yes, as in Colmore Row).

The Colmore family was one of the wealthiest families in the history of Birmingham, says Ana Moarcas in her blog. Of French origin, their wealth came from dealing in fabrics in the 15th and 16th century and they built a home fit for their station in life – New Hall, a large Jacobean mansion, that was approached by an avenue lined with elm trees that later became Newhall Street.

Then there is Livery Street. Birmingham was founded on the metal industry and a large part of that must have been the metal bits for bridles, reins and saddles so I assumed that was the origin of the street name, a street full of metalworkers. WRONG! Livery Street refers to Swann’s Riding Academy which was well established by the 1780s on the corner with Cornwall Street.

Whether it has been proven or not, Livery Street is said to be the longest street in the city, hence the expression that someone looking miserable has “a face as long as Livery Street”.

Now Ludgate Hill is something else, and I have struggled to find its origins. There is plenty written about London’s Ludgate Hill, a gate to the City that was taken down with its attached gaol in 1760, but very little about Birmingham’s Ludgate. Note to self, more research needed.

So, let’s end this little tour (no doubt to be resumed) in paradise – or Paradise Street and Paradise Circus to be exact, which is undergoing considerable redevelopment at the moment. Wikipedia (yes, I know, all you academics!) says the name “Paradise” could refer to the quality of land there or possibly even a medieval pleasure garden which led to the street at the southern end of the site being named Paradise Street when it was laid out in the late 18th century. Fact or fiction? True or False? Your guess is as good as mine.



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