Pennyfarthing Street is in Salisbury, right in the city’s centre.
Pennyfarthing Street – named after the bicycle?
So why is this road called Pennyfarthing Street?
There are two possible explanations.
Is Pennyfarthing Street named after a mason’s wages?
The first one is that as explained on the Wiltshire Community History website ,
Pennyfarthing Street, according to legend, is named after the daily wage for which master masons living there and working on the new cathedral went on strike.
I’m not entirely convinced by this – as mentioned above, the Victoria County History of Wiltshire states that Pennyfarthing Street had gained its name ‘by 1633′. I would interpret this as meaning that it isn’t mentioned in any surviving documents before 1633. The Cathedral was built in the 1200s. It seems to me unlikely that the Street would not be mentioned somewhere in the intervening 400 years, but I may be mistaken.
Is Pennyfarthing Street named after somebody called ‘Pennyfarthing’?
Another possibility is that the street was named after somebody called ‘Pennyfarthing’.
I have no evidence for this other than that Pennyfarthing Street in Oxford seems to have been named after a person. The Full text of “The historic names of the streets and lanes of Oxford, intra muros” says that:
The next street was known as Pennyferthing Street in 1349 ” and earlier, and bore no other name until the middle of the last century. It probably obtained the name from William Pennyferthing who was bailiff in 1238, but it is
not known that he had land in this street. 
Pennyferthing Street then became Pennyfarthing Street.
It would be interesting to find out whether there have been any Pennyfarthing families in the Salisbury area.
As a road name, Pennyfarthing is not quite unique. As mentioned, there was a Pennyfarthing Street in Oxford, although it is now called Pembroke Street , and there is also a Pennyfarthing Drive in Vancouver .
For accommodation, see the Hotels in Salisbury page.
- Salisbury – St Edmund’s parish | British History Online [↩]
- The History of the Bicycle [↩]
- Wiltshire County Council – Wiltshire Community History Get Community Information [↩]
- Full text of “The historic names of the streets & lanes of Oxford, intra muros” [↩]
- John Ireland, Apothecary of Oxford [↩]
- Pennyfarthing Drive, Vancouver on Google Maps [↩]