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Changing Times | Names are not always the same for town roads

Looking at street names, I have often wondered how and by whom the naming was decided, so I made a call to obtain the up to date information. It would appear that the earliest legislation involved was the Town Improvement Clauses Act 1847, Section 64/65. At one time, the system was operated under the Public Health Act 1925, Section 18, and the builder or developer has to submit some ideas for naming to Arun District Council, which consults a number of bodies.


This would include the Post Office to ensure no duplication, the relevant parish or local council to ensure there were no specific objections and then the emergency services, which I found to be unusual, but if you think about it this seems to be most sensible.


Ultimately, a consensus of opinion will be advised to the builder or developer in question. With the amount of development occurring at the moment it could be difficult for those involved, although there is a list held for possible future use.


This list includes many local personalities, local family names, musical connections etc. If you should want to submit a name, it is advisable to put this in writing to Arun District for its deliberations.


Where do you live? Have you ever wondered why the name of your street was chosen or when the road was built? There are numerous reasons for names being used in an area and they can often include the directional names of east, west, north and south. Sometimes, when a new estate is built, a theme is decided upon, such as birds, flowers and places. I was recently asked why Hillsboro Road was so named. It was thought to have been named by HW Briggs, who built the houses in the road, in the 1930s, after an area in Ilfracombe, although that place is spelt Hillsborough.


Previously, I had lived in Gainsboro Rd (note the shortened spelling).This road was built in 1907 and shorted to the current spelling in a street directory of 1936. I had hoped to find a link for the spellings.


Names have a tendency to be retained after their initial conception. But this is not always the case and there are a number of areas within our district that emphases this fact. Today, we have Hawthorn Road, Town Cross Avenue, Ockley Road and Victoria Road, but this was not always the case. Until 1925, Hawthorn Road had the interesting names of Sheepwash Lane and Cemetery Road while Town Cross Avenue has been known as both Dung Cart Lane and Green Lane.


Victoria Road is shown on maps in the 1800s as Snaggs Lane while today’s Marine Drive West was changed only when the residents felt that the original name of Goodman Drive did not indicate its nearness to the sea.


If you have the opportunity to look at early maps of the town, it is quite interesting to note the development of certain roads, in relation to the surrounding area. One such is Essex Road, which was laid with 24 houses in 1903 and shown within an area known as ‘New Town’ on a map a year later. Originally, it was just a connecting road between Green Lane and Cemetery Road.


As we look around the town, it is sometimes difficult to determine visually the age of roads within an area. Looking at Argyle Road, this was developed in 1886 with all the houses being numbered consecutively because of the fields opposite. Eventually, in 1915, Bassett Road was developed but we then had to wait until 1925 to see the arrival of Cavendish Road which was named after a road in London where the builder lived. Alfred Hayes carried out these developments and he continued his naming theme from personal information.


For example ,Wellington Road was the name of his London house and Southdown Road reminded him of his local landscape. In this area, Canada Grove was developed in 1891, and possibly named such because the area was known as being ‘Canada Gardens for the Poor’.


In the 1960s, the local press seemed to report much more detail on naming of roads and streets such as one report asking “Do you prefer the name of your road to be ‘plain’ or ‘fancy’”. It was reported the naming of roads was becoming a headache and the Bognor Regis Urban District Council had a problem when they came to the street names for the Fairlands Estate, North Bersted.


There were names such as Romney Broadwalk, Renoir Mews and Van Dyke Place and one of the councillors felt some of the names might – in the 1960s – ‘be too fanciful for an estate composed of semi-detached bungalows’.


The reports continue over a number of weeks, with the decision being made eventually that ‘tree names’ would be used instead, only to find that the street nameplates had already been manufactured and delivered, thus leaving the names as planned.


At one time, of course, we simply had Lane, Road or Street, but this has developed over the years into a wider range of addresses, which includes Gardens, Avenues, Drives, Close, Walk and Way. Naming has now developed into a wider range after specific events and also the wider experiences of the builders and developers.


For example, in the past, this has occurred with roads such as Sherwood Road where residents can thank Mr H. Seymour who honeymooned in Sherwood Forest and Glenelg is the name of a place in Scotland where the builder’s wife was born. Finally. Norbren Ave is named after Norman and Brenda, relatives of the builder.


Street maps have always shown the street or road, complete with the name. However, on some of the newer maps there are a series of numbers, which are then expanded elsewhere on the map with the names of the small groups of courts and mews that are springing up around the town. It is much easier to find out these facts now thanks to Ron Iden’s The Street Names of Bognor Regis, available from Heygates bookshop in the High St, or the museum, when it opens for Easter.

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