The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Jul 29, 2007

Vokzal who?

I had heard that the Russian for railway station, Vokzal, originated from the London town of Vauxhall, but I learned the reason only when I read Chris Roberts' wonderful Cross River Traffic.

Vauxhall has long been a centre of engineering and ugly works, but few people realise that for over a century from 1661, this was the location of one of the world's most famous entertainment parks, the Pleasure Gardens. There were recreations of ancient Rome, sightseeing rides on hot-air balloons, masked balls, gay exhibition, music, vocal and instrumental, not too refined for the general ear, for all of which only a shilling is paid (Boswell). Vauxhall then became synonymous with the gardens, and when the first Russian railway was built, going from St. Peterburg to Pavlovsk, a nearby pleasure garden, there was no wonder, then, that the Russians adopted the name of the original pleasure garden as their word for a railway station.

Of course, other explanations abound - choose the rumour of your choice!


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