Featured Post

An Interview With Simon Loxley

Monday, March 4, 2024

Something About Pimlico

Prim and proper.

I touched on the name Amalia Pimlico not too long ago, but not the origins of the name Pimlico.

First, it's an upscale area of Central London in the City of Westminster, known for its architecture, garden squares, and views of and across the Thames. Area attractions include the Tate Britain art museum (pictured) with collections from the 16th century to the present, a range of architectural styles and landscaped gardens in Dolphin Square, and Westminster Cathedral, the mother church of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

By the 19th century, and due to increased demand for property in the previously unfashionable West End of London following the Great Plague of London and the Great Fire of London, Pimlico had become ripe for development. However, parts of Pimlico were said to have declined significantly by the 1890s. In the mid-1930s, Pimlico saw a second wave of growth and, in 1972, got connected to the London Underground. Successive waves of development have increased the area's atmosphere [1].

In the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898), Cobham Brewer provides some explanation of the name:
At one time a district of public gardens much frequented on holidays. According to tradition, it received its name from Ben Pimlico, famous for his nut-brown ale. His tea-gardens, however, were near Hoxton, and the road to them was termed Pimlico Path, so that what is now called Pimlico was so named from the popularity of the Hoxton resort [2].
So much for my theory of having the original offices of the Pimli Company housed here.

My trusty edition of Wikipedia also notes that H.G. Wells, in his novel The Dream, said that there was a wharf at Pimlico where ships from America docked and that the word Pimlico came from trading with the American Indians of North Carolina who spoke an Algonquian language known as Carolina Algonquian, or Pamlico [1].

Of course, it's not just London where you hear the name Pimlico today, but also in the United States. English settlers in America in the 1660s took a shine to ol' Ben and named an area in Baltimore, Maryland, after Pimlico. In 1870, the Pimlico Race Course opened in the same area with the running of the Dinner Party Stakes. The winning horse, Preakness, later gave its name to the stakes race held there annually.

It would be interesting to see the Preakness run in the streets of southern London for one year.


  • [1] Wikipedia: Pimlico
  • [2] Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898)

No comments: