please empty your brain below

There have generally been purges of repeated street names in what was the county of London. For instance Queens Road in Notting Hill became Queensway and the one in Battersea became Queenstown Road with the stations following suit, only leaving Peckham in inner London. On the other hand buses sometimes turn short at “East Sheen Queens Road” which is the TW10 one (Richmond pre-1965) not the SW14 one {Barnes pre-1965).
Perhaps the Something High Streets are more central because they were once just High Street but as the city got built up and villages and towns merged into each other it was necessary to specify which High Street were going to/talking about them - many are relatively colose to each other.

In the outer boroughs it was obvious which high street you were talking about (before the advent of reasonably rapid travel) so the name was still just High Street when it was codifed by mapping.

Just a thought.
I live in a borough where all the High Streets are High Streets, not Something High Streets, and yet all of them are referred to in speech as Something High Street, and if someone told me they were going to the High Street I wouldn’t know where they were going.
Also, one of our High Streets is a High Road - surely they count too?

dg writes: never risk a surely
All the Inner London boroughs were once part of the London County Council, and they undertook a street renaming exercise to ensure that street names were not duplicated. There was once a list publshed of the changed names.
Just lookedboth Shoreditch and Whitechapel are plain High Street on the 1880 OS map.
Almost certainly the 'something' High Street is down to the post office of years ago mandating this in London. Its retrospective naming requirements account for lots of required changes throughout the country in Victorian times to avoid confusion including the renaming of Down to Downe (hence Down House, Downe).

Round here at least it seems that 'High Street' is not the street that you would think is the High Street. So Croydon's now declining main shopping street is North End with the actual High Street a less important shopping road further south (and continues southwards to South End). In Purley the road one naturally thinks of as the High Street is actually Brighton Road with the High Street being a short road tucked behind it. In Coulsdon the shopping street is called Brighton Road but High Street would be more appropriate given that we now have a bypass which is the true main road to Brighton.

The idea of Downe having a High Street seems strange. Does it even have a shop?
My parental shopping locale was a Something High Road. Hope we learn about those too.

On a school trip to the Lake District, we were led uphill on the Fells for many hours, before reaching a summit surprisingly called High Street. Great views, but not a Woolworths to be seen.
PoP: 2 pubs, one restaurant. No shop.
The 1841 Post Office London directory is quite interesting. It lists all the streets in London with the names of residents and businesses in each street. Most of the high streets are listed as Something high street with a few exceptions such as Camberwell and Camden Town.
I wonder if new users of 'Wembley High Street Dental Practice' ever go to the wrong place.
Interesting, thank you.
I've always wondered why Walworth Road is called that as it very definitely functions as the high street for Walworth, and is not the road leading to Walworth (whilst Camberwell Road conversely is the road leading to Camberwell)
The London county council —Inner London now—had definite policies to prevent multiple street names . They used to publish a 400 page book, index to street names in the County of London, which had a compendium of those which were altered. The population never quite accepted them; my family for instance always referred to Green St, rather than Roman Rd, between Grove Rd and Bethnal Green station
OK, I've found a list of London street names changed by the Metropolitan Board of Works.

Bruce Hunt's London Miscellany site - an absolute masterwork - has comprehensive lists of every name change between 1857-1929 and also 1929-1945.

The following all used to be called High Street:

Battersea High Street
Borough High Street
Bow Road
Camberwell Road
Dartmouth Road
Denmark Hill
Eltham High Street
Great Garden Street
Hoxton Street
Kensington High Street
Kingsland High Street
Lewisham High Street
Newington Butts
Shoreditch High Street
Stepney High Street
Stoke Newington High Street
Upper Tooting Road
Does the one in Hampton turn into Hampton Hill at the junction with Uxbridge Road? Iirc there are two street signs next to each other there.

dg writes: officially yes
As a proud ex-resident of Norwood High Street, I take a keen interest in today's post. It never seemed particularly highstreety to me; neither did I manage to find any reference to it having been the principal street of West Norwood, let alone of the totality Norwood.

There's a world of difference between a High Street and a high street, I suspect.
That would also explain the near non-existence of the name “London Road” in inner London when many parts of outer London have one.
In Slough we have a number of “High Street”s and “Station Road”s and some people call them (e.g. “Langley High Street”, “High Street” (in the town centre)) but I tend to refer to them as (e.g. “High Street (Langley)”, “High Street (Slough)” for disambiguation. I’m not quite sure what the official nameplates show.

I’ve always been amused by “London Street” next to Paddington Station. I imagine that it’s been so named to show tourists what a typical London street is like, but I don’t think it’s a good example.
High comes from the Anglo-Saxon Heah which in turn is a corruption of the high german Hoch (which means high). Tarmac is a relatively new phenomena in London so for regular travellers knowing the best routes would be extremely important. As these routes would have had what we now call high footfall and were safe from flooding they would have attracted commerce, hence the significance of High Street started to change from our perception many centuries ago.

In Germany we call what is in English High Street "Hauptstrasse" which translates to "Main Street". Sound familiar? A "Hochstrasse" is always an old route on higher ground which is passable all year round.
This is a good one, the Bruce Hunt site is lovely.

It's High Street Kensington on the tube, perhaps to avoid too many Kensington's in one place.

Also those places that have managed without a High Street (although some have a High Road or a Broadway), such as Catford, Chingford, Enfield, Edmonton, all the Finchley's, Richmond, Streatham.

Perhaps there's some common factor that produces a need for something to be called a High Street, in the same way we have so many called Station Road.
Strange that the tube stop is High Street Kensington.
What’s the difference between (any) 'High Street' and (any) 'High Road'? Is it that the 'Street' was a focal point of local activity and 'Road' was a route?
When I was at Primary School in the early 50's I, and another girl, lived on Putney High Street.
Long before full post-codes, when we had a lesson on letter writing we were both told that our correct addresses were:

NNN Putney High Street
London SW15
Unless I am mistaken you are missing Kingsland High St. There has been a shooting there the other week.
ah Sorry of course this is a Something High St - apologies
Out of curiosity I went to the street gazetteer website to look up the "High roads" (and other such combinations of High)

The quality of search engine used is frustratingly poor (too many results for a countrywide search that had both high and road in the address with no way to make it "high road") so I quickly gave up on that curiosity.
The High street in Oxford is often just called ‘The High’
Stephen: According to 'Street Names of London' by Gillian Bebbington, London Street in Paddington is named "not to welcome West Country travellers emerging from Paddington Station but after the Bishops of London, who have owned this district for centuries"
I agree about the search engine MilesT, but did have a quick look and could see that there are far fewer 'High Road's than 'High Street's, (I made it 18), with six 'Something High Road' and three 'High Road Something's (none with a compass direction, though).
Lambeth council maintain that “Streatham High Road is the longest continuous high street in Europe”, not just London..

(Third paragraph from bottom)
The absence of any "London Roads" in inner London is nothing to do with 19th cebtury rationalisation of streetnames. In the UK, "[placename] Road" is usually the name of the road that leads to [placename]. Thus, London has a Brighton Road, and Brighton has a London Road.

The only London Road I know of in inner London is the road from St Georges Circus to the Elephant & Castle which, for at least 50 years, has been a one-way street heading south - AWAY from central London - and indeed it leads to the west end (via Waterloo Bridge) - the road from the Elephant towards the City of London, via London Bridge, is Newington Causeway.
Amongst the silly questions I've been asked on Twitter today, someone asked the excellent question...

Which High Street is the highest?

Ironically it's Downe.
Let's hope nobody asked which is the highest Low Street.
When HSK station was built, there was already a Kensington Station (now called Kensington Olympia) and the road was just called High Street, therefore High Street Kensington was a reasonable name for the station. It was only later that all of the High Streets in the County of London gained a prefix, and thus we ended up with HSK (station) on KHS (road).

I've wondered whether any official at the County Of London had tried to get anyone at the Underground Group to fork out for the road to be named HSK instead, but that the Underground Group refused to pay, and so the County renamed the road to KHS just to spite them.
London Miscellany took me down a rabbit hole. I discovered that Charles Harper in his book Cycle Rides Round London describes Southend with a brutally short sentence:

"Southend is a place that labours under many disadvantages."

As a resident of said town (City, City!) I fear nothing as changed.
Is it not more meaningful to identify actual high streets, not streets named “high street”?
Heinz Streets - 57 varieties in London
Article is linked on Hacker News.

But comments there show a lot of reporting this comment thread.
Thanks Mark!

Hello anyone from Hacker News who’s read to the bottom of the post and got this far down the comments.

I have no idea how many high streets there are in London - no objective definition exists. But there are 57 High Streets.
Update: I've written a long follow-up post here.
I’ve noticed most high streets you listed are on a North/South axis rather than the main roads pointing towards central London.

Possibly because of busy roads and shopping do not mix well.

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