As I started to explore how the lives of foxes are intertwined with the lives of people in London, I realised that there are a large number of fox-related street names. When I started to look through the A to Z, I noticed a pattern developing. Many fox streets were very small, tucked away off larger roads, or were cul de sacs or tiny alleyways. They were often backing onto playing fields, school grounds or other open spaces, and several ran by railway lines, known to be popular thoroughfares for foxes patrolling their territory. This got me thinking about how the ideas we have about fox behaviours and habitats are reflected in the way we name features in the urban environment. I started photographing the streets to see the pattern more clearly. You can see the results here.
As the city expands outwards, and the suburbs sprawl further out into the countryside, we encroach further into previously rural fox territory. Unlike many wild animals that struggle to adapt to human impact on the environment, foxes are remarkably adaptable, and in fact do very well living amongst us, eating our leftovers, living under our sheds; going about their business mostly when humans are asleep. Although we don’t always see them, their presence in the city is evident through place names, smells and sounds. And their presence in our imagination seems strong.
Click here to find all the fox-related streets of London on a map.