What’s in a street name?

st_gilesWhile pottering around town last week, as you do, I started to be irritated by something. Any reasonable person would be irritated by rational matters: having your car clamped; waiting in a queue; or having your car clamped while waiting in a queue. For me, the source of my annoyance was much more trivial. I was irritated by Wrexham’s street names.

An estate off Holt Road pays tribute to the great and good of golf. There’s Westwood Drive, named after Lee Westwood and Sandy Way, a rather personal tribute to the decorated Mr Lyle.

All fine fellows, no doubt, but do they really deserve a street in Wrexham named after them? And what about Ryder Close, a street named after a trophy, or Augusta Drive, in tribute to a random golf course 3,975 miles away?

It’s all an affectation, of course. The company which built these houses decided to call it the Fairways Estate, and conjured up a series of random golf-related street names to populate it.

I accept it’s a pretty trivial thing for me to get upset about. Nobody should really be infuriated if somewhere in North East Wales there’s a street with Nick Faldo’s name on it. But isn’t there something terribly soulless about the whole thing? Why should Wrexham’s streets pay tribute to a selection of golfing figures, locations and baubles which have no link to the town whatsoever through the whim of some suit in an office in London? Isn’t it a chilling thought that dotted around Britain are identical Stepford estates, designed to identical blueprints, each with the same golfing names. Could it be that Ian Woosnam has more streets named after him than Winston Churchill?

We often read about local heroes having streets named after them, and it seems like a big deal. But in reality, it seems that you don’t have to do much to get a thoroughfare in your name. And furthermore, I’ll bet the individuals who are commemorated on the Fairways Estate have no clue that they are now immortal in Wrexham. But how successfully have we honoured our brightest and best in the days before distant businesses decided what our streets should be called? What track record did Wrexham have in naming streets in the good old days when thought went into such matters?

Well, we’ve got Anthony Eden Drive which certainly honours a person, but I‘m toiling to see what his link with our town is. There are a series of houses off Victoria Road which acknowledge Nineteenth Century politicians, but why? Tucked behind them is Llys David Lord, a rare example of a street being named after someone on merit.

Victoria Road itself is an obvious tug of the forelock to the monarchy, and in Hightown a series of streets are named after royal houses. What a missed opportunity that Saxon Street, Stuart Way, Norman Road and Hanover Way aren’t joined by Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Avenue or Plantagenet Boulevard!

So why aren’t more streets in Wrexham named after those whose deeds resonate locally? Why are there no memorials to John Neal? Where are Bamford Close and Tunnicliffe Road? Can’t Waterways be renamed the Arfon Lido?

Okay, I’m being facetious with that last idea, but I’m deadly serious about the rest of them. Why shouldn’t Arfon Griffiths have a street named after him in Wrexham? Did Sandy Lyle winning the Open in 1985 mean more to our town than Wrexham winning the Third Division, getting to the quarter finals of both FA and League Cups and winning the Welsh Cup in 1978 under the leadership of the man who played more games from the club than anyone else?

I’m not happy, and only one thing can cheer me up. Rename High Street after the man who in the space of a week scored the goals that sent us to Wembley and beat Chester. Ffordd Kieron Morris anyone?

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