Nevada / Silver Street

I’ve been sitting on this thorny question for some months, trying to get to the bottom of it. Sheila asks:

“I’m trying to find out when and why Silver Street was changed to Nevada Street. I’ve tried research on t’interweb, but to no avail. Do you have any information or advice as to where I could find out more about this?”

You know I thought this was going to be fairly easy to answer, but the more I looked, the less I found out. All every history book ever says on the subject is something along the lines of “Silver St (now Nevada St)” but as to why the hell it should be Silver Street in the first place, and why the bloody hell it should have been renamed Nevada Street is a complete mystery.

I spent some time faffing around the libraries of Greenwich, not to mention my own bookshelves, looking for this before admitting a big fat zero on this and going whining, tricorn in hand, to the man who, if-it’s-there-to-know-he’ll-know-it, Julian Watson.

The first part of the question is relatively easily answered – or at least best-guessed. Julian tells me

“Nevada/Silver Street was earlier part of Stockwell Street and before that part of Heathgate Street. Heathgate Street was the name given to the western end of the road that went under the Queens House – the main road from Woolwich. Heathgate Street also seemed to encompass the bottom bit of Crooms Hill. All very confusing!

Silver Street seems to have taken its name from the firm S.W. Silver who, according their company history, were in Greenwich in the 19th cent. However, I have never found them in any directory. They moved to the other side of the river and Silvertown grew around them.”

So far, so good. No actual proof that that’s where the Silver bit comes from, but it’s plausible enough for me to buy it. But on the Nevada bit, even the mighty Mr Watson then ran out of ideas, though he wondered if it might have had something to do with the Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich which was formed in 1900 and, full of self-importance, set about changing all sorts of things just for the sake of it.

After some exhaustive (and exhausting) searches, he found the name was changed by the London County Council on 18th June 1895. Sadly the both the minutes and the report in the Mercury at the time merely report the renaming, not the reason.

So why did it stop being Silver Street? I mean – I have nothing against Nevada, but I don’t know of any connection between Greenwich and the US state, either now or in any part of the past couple of hundred years. I looked at Nevada State history and there don’t seem to have been any great commemorations around the time of the name change or connections with Greenwich.

Maybe S.W. Silver’s grandchildren did something awful to offend the council, they immediately struck the name from the records and just stuck a pin in a map for inspiration. Julian wonders about a silver/gold mining connection, but the best mining Greenwich ever seems to have to offered was sand. I guess there could have been some sort of civic visit from American dignitaries commemorated in the name but – hey, I’m clutching at straws here.

The answer is, Sheila, it’s yet another Greenwich mystery.

Theories here, please…

4 Comments to “Nevada / Silver Street”

  1. Nick Martin says:

    According to the date of the change was 1912, not 1895. Now, the State of Nevada was formed in 1912, so I would guess that the name change was done to commemorate it. Exactly why the Greenwich council chose Silver Street as the street to change will probably remain a mystery, unless someone unearths some old council archives. One possible interesting fact emerges from the website above – in 1912, seven other Silver Streets changed their name (but not to Nevada Street) – maybe the name went out of fashion, for some reason ?

  2. Nick Martin says:

    On the National Archives site, there is a page detailing the British Tyre and Rubber company, and on that page it mentions Stephen W. Silver who founded the rubber company in Greenwich in 1852, but who subsequently moved the factory to Silvertown some time later. Since Silver no longer had connections to Greenwich, this probably made the street a prime candidate for the celebratory name change.

  3. richstories says:

    Hi Phantom – just clicking through some searches as I am researching a “Olympic-themed” walk for Greenwich. (Walk route with links to as many of the Olympic nations as possible).
    Your ref to Nevada St replacing Silvers Street.
    Nevada- formed in 1912 as you state – was known as the Silver State due to extensive mining for that mineral. So I guess it could be a as simple as that ?
    regards Rich

  4. Hi Rich – I guess so – it’s still pretty obscure. Maybe it was a Friday afternoon in the street-naming department…

    Good luck with the walks – let me know when you’re doing them…