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Pleasure gardens

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Alexander Howard
1244509.  Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:47 am Reply with quote

Our own most famous public pleasure gardens, the model for all others, were opened in 1661 in Vauxhall in Surrey. Very little remains of the gardens today. It was devoted to fine “P” words: people, promenading and public pleasure, but since it was frequented by people not paragons, it became known too for other P-words, notably ladies of negotiable virtue.

There is a story that the Russian word воксал (‘voksal’) meaning “railway station” comes from Vauxhall Station: the usual one is a Russian delegation, or even the Tsar himself, arrived in town and asked what this place was; being told “Vauxhall” he assumed that was the type of building. It is one of those anecdotes like “Canada” being an Iroquois work for “There’s nothing there, mate” or “kangaroo” meaning “I don’t know”.

The more likely origin is a pleasure park at Pavlovsk by Petrograd which Pushkin patronised (see what I did there?), created by a visiting Briton and named ‘voksal’ after the Vauxhall Gardens. The name seems to have transferred to the station built near it, and then to stations in general.

But if I get into names taken or invented by railways, Russian or otherwise, I am getting two series ahead of myself.

1244517.  Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:37 am Reply with quote

Р for Русский ...?

The point about the word воксал being transferred to the railway station at Pavlovsk is that it was one of the first railway stations in Russia.

The 17 mile (27 kilometer, 25 verst) long Tsarskoye Selo Railway, which opened under horse power in 1836 and went under steam the following year, ran from St Peterburg Vitebsky to Pavlovsk. Not until the rather longer line from St Peterburg Moskovsky to Moscow opened in 1851 did Russia get its second railway line.


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