Oliff’s Life

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Have you ever looked at your address and wondered, who thought to give such a name to a place where people might live?

Most street names are fine, yet some are simply grim or unfathomable. Many are chosen to represent the history of a given area, or even the social and political history of our country.

Down the years politicians, poets, inventors and industrialists are among the most popular choices for town and county planners.

One could live in, say, Bath Street in Market Harborough without ever realising it may possibly have been named after the first Earl of Bath, Prime Minister for two days – it is in an area close to the more familiar Gladstone Street and equally obscure Granville Street, second Earl Granville, who was Prime Minister for four days.

In Corby’s Thoroughsale Road where I spent my childhood, Spinney Grove for many years bore the sign Spinney Grove, formerly Thoroughsale Close, giving me my first inkling that names can be changed.

Thoroughsale in itself is a strange one, being named after an ancient Corby wood, like nearby Hazelwood Road, yet I can find no explanation as to its origin.

So, how does a community change the name of a street or road if the general consensus among residents is one of determination so to do?

Well, apparently, an organised petition for change will be welcomed by most cities, towns and villages, though one would imagine a case for change would have to be somewhat compelling.

For example, Kirby Road in Gretton was once known as Backside – I rest my case.

So the next time you see your road sign, ask yourself these two simple questions: do I like it? And, do I know what it means or represents?

Perhaps one could add another question: is it appropriate for the world in which I now live?