Where we live
By the way, my helpful website manager and creator, Jono Renton, is getting married to Sophie tomorrow. All the best to you both, and your families, for the big day, and for the years to come!
The first home I owned was a flat above a hairdresser’s, on one of the major dual carriage-ways leading out of Aberdeen. The street was called Great Northern Road, and I remember thinking “alas, how dull.”
(Aberdeen has a Great Northern Road, a Great Western Road, and a Great Southern Road. A glance at the map will explain the absence of the Great Eastern.)
My brother, however, put me right – “what a romantic name.” And of course I realised it was. Not called after a dead prime minister, or a building it used to contain – but the road to the north!
Just imagine what one might read:
“The adventurers put on their bravest faces, gathered together their dragon-slaying equipment, and set out along the Great Northern Road.”
“On hearing of the atrocity, the sheriff gathered a posse, and they galloped out along the Great Northern Road.”
“The rain fell, and the crowds were silent, as the victorious bloodstained general rode in on the Great Northern Road, to be crowned King of Tragedia later that day.”
“Unbearably bored teenager Luke gazed wistfully after every coach that carried luckier people off along the Great Northern Road to the glamorous city.”
You get the picture.
Meanwhile, about seven miles out of Aberdeen, lies (or lay twenty years ago) the dormitory suburb of Westhill, with its streets all called after trees. I am not clear how much effort if any was made to actually plant trees of the appropriate species along the verges. I suspect not much. Now that’s dull.
Street names deserve more attention than we (I) normally give them.
In housing developments they are often named in a related batch, as with Westhill. Second world war generals provided names for another estate in Aberdeen. Reginald Perrin (‘70s sitcom anti-hero) walked to work along streets named after poets. One can date residential streets with names like Gladstone, Albert, Trafalgar, Churchill, Nelson Mandela. And Marlborough after the Duke, perhaps?
Every Scottish town has a Union Street, which I’ve always presumed refers to the 1707 Union of the Parliaments. In Aberdeen it’s the main street.
Individual towns have streets named after local heroes or landowners – Pearson etc, in west Nottingham.
I was always fascinated as a child by Dundee’s Mary Ann Lane. (It’s not that attractive a place.)
And there are the sensible ancient names like Market Street, Church Street, or Derby Road, which at least helps one identify traditional routes and town-plans.
More tantalisingly and gruesomely, there’s Gallowgate, or Chilwell’s Ghost House Lane.
Almost all of Chilwell is a recent creation, and I’m told several names, such as Great Hoggett Drive in Inham Nook, come from the fields ploughed over within the last century, thus attempting to preserve memories of what was. It is a lot easier however to track down street names in the older town of Beeston.
This summer we at Christ Church, Chilwell, are being challenged to get to know our area. Perhaps there should have been a few more questions about street names?
And now I live close to Peveril Road – is this a reference to Derbyshire’s Peveril Castle, or is there some other local Peveril?
Do you know your street’s history?
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