To understand the origin of street names in St Andrews you first have to know a little about the history of naming streets in the town. Like most Scottish towns, St Andrews has a mix of different types of street names. Historically, early street names in mediaeval St Andrews were descriptive of function or location, and most came about through popular use. For example Market Street: the location of the town’s market-place; North Street: the street to the north of the town; and East Burn Wynd – the most easterly lane leading to the Kinness burn (stream).
This naming convention continued until the nineteenth century when the Town Council took responsibility for naming the streets.
There is a written record for November 1843 in which the Council agreed to a request from the residents of East Burn Wynd to change its name to Abbey Street. A committee then formed that had the power to carry out similar changes. Most of the early changes resulted in altering Wynds to Streets or Lanes and removing the ‘scottishisms’ from street names. For example, Mercatgait became Market Street.
In the late 19th century several legislative acts handed to Police commissioners the power to name streets. In practice, the commissioners often gave consent to property developers to name their streets, and these often commemorated themselves or their family connections. In contrast, those names chosen by the commissioners tended to honour public figures.
In 1900 the Town Councils (Scotland) act transferred the naming powers back to the Town Council, although the naming pattern continued to follow that of the 19th century. Streets tended to be given names of Provosts or Councillors, but Chamberlain Street, King Street and Churchill Crescent broke this pattern, being named instead for national politics. Private developments were generally named after the land they were built on.
In 1951 a new trend of naming streets after famous golfers started with Tom Morris Drive, this continued until the 1970’s with many golfers such as Freddie Tait and Allan Robertson as well as golf club manufacturers like Robert Forgan and the Auchterlonie family having streets named after them.
Today the names of new streets tend to be named after people with historic connections to St Andrews or after the land itself.
The site of the market-place in St Andrews dates back to at least the 14th century. Originally called Mercat Gate or Mercatgait it became Market Street at some point during the 18th century. Market Street is a perfect example of a street being named after its use.
This lane appears to have no formal name until the 17th century, and is now so called because it leads down to Bow Butts where archery was practised (practice was required by law). It has withstood at least two attempts to change its name, one to Scores Lane and the other to Butts Lane, both in the 19th century.
This street has had at least 5 different names in the past, dating from at least the 15th century it has been called Water Wynd, Ford Wynd, Corn Wynd, Well Wynd and was colloquially known as Maggie Murrays Wynd. It became Bridge Street in November 1843.
Although part of the original mediaeval town plan, this lane lacked a name. In the 16th century it was sometimes referred to as Baxter Wynd, as the baxter trade (bakers) had land there. In the 18th Century it was known as Dickiemans Wynd, which translates to Wynd of the servants of Richard. Its present name comes from the Gregory family who had property there. It is also occasionally referred to as Foundry Lane from William Blyth’s St Andrews Foundry which was located on the lane.
In the 15th Century this street was known as Mercat Wynd, being a lane that led to the Market Place. In 1500 it started to be referred to as Bucklar Wynd, then changing to College Wynd after St Salvators College (1450) had been established long enough to become a fixed destination for street users.