Sound and Fury

Signifying nothing

Inconsistency and the London Underground

with 8 comments

Just in case anyone had any lingering doubts about my credentials as pedant extrordinaire, here is something mindblowingly petty that has really started to annoy me recently. Earl’s Court, King’s Cross, Regent’s Park, St. John’s Wood and St. James’s Park tube stations all have an apostrophe. But Barons Court and Parsons Green don’t.

Perhaps it has something to do with rank? Kings, regents and saints all presumably deserve apostrophes, as do earls. However, barons, the lowest rank of the British peerage do not deserve apostrophes. Nor do parsons, unless of course they get canonised…

Unfortunately, there are no tube stops named after or for a viscount. So we cannot settle the questions as to whether the second lowest rank of the peerage deserves an apostrophe or not.

There are two options. One is to revise all the tube maps and allow everyone to have apostrophes. (Knight’sbridge… maybe not.) Or rename “Hammersmith” tube station to “Viscount’s Park” or “Viscounts Park” depending on what the guidelines on apostrophe allowances suggest. In fact, we can go further: all the central Picadilly line stations should be named after ranks in the peerage. It would require some swapping of stations, because Regent’s Park is unaccountably not on the “noblility line” as I shall rename it. So along with the aforementioned stops, some of the other Picadilly stops should be renamed. Gloucester Road becomes Marquis Palace; South Kensington becomes Duke’s Forest; Hyde Park Corner becomes Archduke’s Corner… and so on.

This kind of initiative is surely right up Boris’ street. Incidentally, now would be a perfect time to put it into effect: A new stop on the Hammersmith and City line (Wood Lane) opens later this year, so the maps need redoing anyway. Might as well start thinking about your enduring legacy, Mr Johnson… What could be more appropriate than imbuing the already regal blue of the Picadilly line with a little extra nobility.

And what do I want in return for suggesting this fantastic idea? Not a lot. I’d settle for a barony, although obviously I’d prefer a title that deserves an apostrophe…


Written by Seamus

September 2, 2008 at 11:33 pm

Posted in annoying, random

Tagged with , , , ,

8 Responses

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  1. I’m not sure about Parsons Green, but Barons Court might be a statement rather than a description. That is, instead of meaning “the court belonging to one or more barons”, it might be saying that “multiple barons perform the action of courting, presumably with the intent to acquire multiple baronesses”.

    In a similar way, King’s Cross might actually mean “the king is angry! Run for your lives!”

    Stephen Morffew

    September 3, 2008 at 6:43 pm

  2. I really don’t know how to feel about the tube station in Earls Court being called Earl’s Court. The pedant and the completionist in me are at odds.

    Alex Rea

    September 4, 2008 at 3:31 pm

  3. In that case, I want some station to be renamed “Viscounts go yachting”


    September 4, 2008 at 3:34 pm

  4. So I happened to go past Parsons Green station on the tube, and I finally realised why it may not have an apostrophe: “green” isn’t the noun, it’s an adjective, and they are using an unconventional word order.

    So “Parsons Green” isn’t a green owned by a parson, or even several parsons. It refers to several parsons who are themselves green.

    Why a tube station is named after a horde of eco-friendly clergy is a matter that I do not intend to look into.

    Stephen Morffew

    November 8, 2008 at 12:35 am

  5. In the same way that the plural of advocate general is advocates general? So you think there is some notion of parson green whose proper plural is parsons green? Er… OK…


    November 8, 2008 at 2:18 am

  6. Yeah, like “pastures green” from that song. Or, even better, like that character from Cluedo. Maybe it’s several people called Parson Green, where Parson is a title as opposed to a description.

    Stephen Morffew

    November 8, 2008 at 8:21 pm

  7. An interesting suggestion, however there is a problem: Tube stations aren’t standardly named after people. Victoria is an exception (unless that’s named after a state in Australia…)


    November 13, 2008 at 1:13 pm

  8. Maybe Parsons Green is the exception, huh?

    Stephen Morffew

    November 14, 2008 at 11:49 pm

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