The Street View Best Streets Awards

Monday, 8th March 2010 by

Forget the Oscars - these are the awards that count at Google Sightseeing! The guys at Google are planning to expand their Street View coverage of the UK in the near future, and to get us in the mood they asked the public to vote for their favourite British streets in three categories: the most picturesque, the best for fashion and the best for food.

Now more than 11,000 votes have been counted, and the three Best Streets in Britain have been named. Not all the winners are yet visible on Street View, but rumour has it that Google will be putting that right soon, so watch this space...

Most picturesque street: Shambles, York

Shambles Shambles

It might seem odd that the name of the winner in this category normally describes something that's a total mess – but "shambles" originally referred to a meat market. This narrow medieval street in York is lined with timber-framed buildings, some of them more than 600 years old, which used to house at least two dozen butchers' shops. Raw meat would be displayed on shelves outside the shops, and the gutter down the middle of the street would run with blood and offal.

Shambles Shelf

Today, there are no butchers on the Shambles itself (although there is still one on the adjacent Little Shambles) and things are somewhat less gory - chocolate shops and tea rooms are the order of the day.

At number 35, you can see the former home of Margaret Clitherow, who was arrested in 1586 for harbouring Catholic priests, and sentenced to death by "pressing" (being crushed beneath a heavy weight). She was made a saint in 1970 and the house is now a shrine.

Clitherow house

Most picturesque street runner-up: Royal Crescent, Bath

This grand curve of Georgian houses was designed by John Wood the Younger and completed in 1774. There's no Street View yet, but Wikipedia has a good panorama of the whole street.

Royal Crescent

A couple of interesting bits of trivia about the Royal Crescent: firstly, although the facades of the houses are all uniform, you can see from the aerial view that the design of the houses behind varies widely, as each was built to a different specification for the original buyers. Second, it has been suggested that the crescent, together with the Circus (the circular road just to the east) and streets just to the south were laid out to represent Masonic symbols.


Most picturesque street runner-up: Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne

Another curving Georgian street, this one was built in the 1830s. Although pipped to the top spot in Google's awards, it headed a list of Britain's favourite streets as voted by BBC Radio 4 listeners in 2002. (If you're wondering about the rather drab name, it commemorates Earl Grey – yes, the same man who gave us funny-tasting tea.)

Grey Street Grey Street

Best fashion street: Milsom Street, Bath

Another award for the city of Bath, which is not yet covered by Street View. The buildings here were originally grand town houses, but over time it has become a renowned shopping street, with small boutiques as well as Jolly's department store, which dates back to the 1830s and is now part of the House of Fraser chain. Find more photos of the area at Geograph.

milsom jollys

Best foodie street: High Street, Stockbridge

The market town of Stockbridge lies in the valley of the River Test, one of Hampshire's famous trout streams. Its broad high street won the award for its range of pubs, inns, restaurants and specialist food shops1. Again there's no Street View yet, but you can find plenty more photos on Geograph.

stockbridge grosvenor

You can see the full list of nominees here, with links to Street Views of those that are covered. But do you know better? Have you found a more picturesque, stylish or downright tasty street, in the UK or abroad? If it's on Street View, let's have a look at it...

  1. Your correspondent can vouch for the quality of pies from the butcher's shop here. ↩︎