Eastgate or High Street?

Posted by sdoerr on 6 April 2011 in English (English)

I've added "alt_name = Eastgate" to the stretch of Rochester High Street between Star Hill and the old city wall. I'm not sure what the status of this name is. It appears on all OS maps since the 19th century. It's still there on OS Locator (which is what drew my attention to it). However, the numbering of the street simply continues the numbering of the High Street within the city walls. The Royal Mail's address file doesn't recognize it - properties in Eastgate have High Street addresses. Yet I'm pretty sure there used to be a street-name sign at the Star Hill end when I was a lad (we used to wait for buses outside the Seeboard show-room). The Medway Map Service ( doesn't recognize Eastgate as a street-name either - which presumably means it's not in the official List of Streets. (If you click on the street in Identify Feature mode, it names it as High Street.) Maybe it should be old_name rather than alt_name, but somehow the fact that the OS still uses it persuaded me to go for alt_name. Google throws up some references to numbered addresses in Eastgate - e.g. "W. Naylar and Son, 191 eastgate, Rochester, funeral directors". These are generally in historical documents, though.


Comment from marscot on 6 April 2011 at 14:12

well I do know that the post office is 130 high Street and theres a Eastgate Terrace running off high street and theres a Eastgate cottage on the high street,

Comment from sdoerr on 6 April 2011 at 14:36

Thanks, marscot. Actually, even the OS probably wouldn't recognize no. 130 as being in 'Eastgate', as they show it as High Street up as far east as Crow Lane. I made the dividing line at the city wall (site of the East Gate itself) as that seemed more logical to me - also to show I wasn't just copying in-copyright OS maps, although I admit I've looked at them! (That's how I know where 130 is.)


Comment from chriscf on 6 April 2011 at 17:09

It may be that the road is Eastgate while the addresses are High Street. Wouldn't be the first place where the street addresses differ from the road name. I work in a building where this is the case.

Comment from paulbiv on 6 April 2011 at 21:27

There clearly isn't a name-plate otherwise I would have put that in. The alt-name seems sensible if there's evidence that people use it - I've put in Top Road for parts of the A2 through Gillingham as that's the name locals use (and is documented in local histories) - I suspect taxi drivers would know that better than Sovereign Boulevard which has zero currency.

This may be a case where usage changed a long time ago and the OS is recording old usage that no-one else recognises.

Comment from sdoerr on 6 April 2011 at 21:59

No, there are two name-plates at the Star Hill end which clearly say HIGH STREET.

Comment from paulbiv on 7 April 2011 at 21:21

Agreed, and definitely no Eastgate name visible on the road OS say is Eastgate.

I'd think the gate in the city wall might have been know as Eastgate, and some local things named after it. Therefore, old trade directory could well have street number (in) Eastgate, which postmen would be able to find easily, while there might never have been a street named Eastgate. ...gate as a street name is distinctively northern (like York) where it is viking. That wouldn't go down too well in Rochester. Southern English pattern would be Eastgate Street.

Comment from sdoerr on 7 April 2011 at 22:28

Yes, the Yorkshire -gate is like the German -gasse, a street generally smaller than a -stra├če. Not in Kent though, as you say.

The gate in the city wall (where it crossed the High Street, which was presumably the old Roman road which became known as Watling Street) was the East Gate, and Eastgate must take its name from this.

Kent's 18th-c. historian, Edward Hasted, refers several times to 'the suburb of Eastgate', and on one occasion to 'the High-street of the suburb of Eastgate'. (See That suggests that it was originally a settlement-name rather than a street-name as such, denoting the ribbon development that must have grown up along the Roman road outside the city walls. As there was presumably only one street in the settlement, you can see how the settlement-name could have become the name of the street.

As well as Hasted, there are references to Eastgate on the City Ark section of Medway's web site (, including 'Title deeds to 172-184 eastgate, High Street, Rochester relating to site of showrooms and offices of Seeboard and adjacent premises as rented out by Seeboard (formerly Kent Electric Power Co.), successive earlier parties including Ralph James Fremlin, Richard Henry Fremlin and Walter Thomas Fremlin all of Maidstone, brewers (later Whitbread Fremlin Ltd.) (pale ale and stout stores) 1875[...]': interesting that here both names are included, Eastgate being a subsidiary of High Street.

Comment from marscot on 15 April 2011 at 13:37

love this background info you dig up doing OSM.

Login to leave a comment