The other day, on the train, I was listening to a very entertaining podcast episode on which the restaurateur Robin Gill was being interviewed. Gill has recently opened two restaurants and two bars at the new Great Scotland Yard Hotel.
The hotel is on the site of the old Ministry of Defence library, and, before that, the home of the Metropolitan Police. When the police moved home, the new home at 10 Broadway was called New Scotland Yard (the force moved away from there back towards Whitehall in 2016 and the new building is, of course, called New Scotland Yard again).
This is all a roundabout way of saying that the podcast mentioning Scotland Yard got me thinking about those organisations for whom the name of a road or a building has become the popular name (at least in the minds of journalists, perhaps) for that organisation.
So I tweeted a question: what are all the UK institutions that are known in the news by the name of a building or street?
I’ve posted a picture because my tweets delete themselves after a few days and this seemed like the best way to keep a record of this one.
The first reply was from a friend with a locked account, who suggested Whitehall, which I think is a fair shout, as in “a senior Whitehall source said”. It’s not quite in the line of what I was thinking, which was to strictly limit it to those cases in which the place name could literally stand in for the organisation.
You definitely hear “Downing Street said” or “Buckingham Palace said” but you wouldn’t hear “Whitehall said” to mean something the British government said. You would, though, hear “a senior Whitehall source said”. The same applies, I think, to the second reply, from Mike Jennings, who suggested Holyrood, for the Scottish government. This, I think, is in the same vein as Whitehall.
Peter Watts suggested Fleet Street, which again falls into the same category as Holyrood and Whitehall, I think.
My anonymous friend also suggested Millbank for the former home of the Labour party (again, I think, in the Whitehall category) which got me thinking of former Conservative central office at Smith Square (I’m not sure whether this one is a strict one or not — I’m sure I remember reports that included “Smith Square tonight said”. There was this exchange featuring more Labour HQs:
A suggestion for Chatham House. Which, strictly speaking, is the home of Rule, not Rules, but I won’t quibble.
Including some fascinating replies from outside the UK:
And, er, this:
City Hall definitely works for other countries and cities (I’m thinking Chicago, as in the film, or Baltimore in The Wire or Homicide). Does it work in London for our City Hall? Maybe:
I’m not sure about this one. Having spent some of my career working here, I’m not convinced it is a true example:
Lambeth Palace, though, courtesy of the Reverend Fergus Butler-Gallie, who I follow on Twitter, definitely falls into my strict definition, and I was kicking myself because I’d forgotten it:
I had also forgotten that there is a name for the general category, which is metonyms. That seems to include all of the above examples including Chatham House and Harley Street. I don’t think there is a word for those places which are strict like-for-like personification swaps, as in “Lambeth Palace said…”.
And a few more —
Stockley Park was a new one on me, having not been a regular football-goer or football-watcher for a few years, and I had to look it up to realise it’s the home of football’s controversial VAR setup: