Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Open Letter To Kirklees Metropolitan Council : Today We Are Naming Of Streets

Just around the corner from where I live, used to stand a large house with a substantial garden. And then one day the bulldozers moved in and knocked the house down and dug the garden up. Where once grew Spring tulips, there now grows "units of elegant, bespoke living". Where misty raindrops once dripped from a tennis court net, now cold asphalt pours to form a new road. And according to a notice pinned to a lamp-post, that new road will be named Delamere Gardens. The Local Authority want to hear from any person who might be aggrieved by such a proposal. I have missed the deadline, but I will submit my views anyway.

My Dear Sir,
I am writing to you with regards to your proposal to name the new road you are planning to built to service the luxury development of 14 bespoke contemporary homes in Fixby, Delamere Gardens. I write not because I am aggrieved by the development itself - merchant bankers must have something to spend their bonuses on, after all - but by the choice of name. "Delamere" is such a meaningless homage to aspirational vacuousness, with no links to the area it has been chosen for. "Gardens" is, if you will pardon the expression, an oxymoron, as it is intended to describe something that used to be a garden and is now little more than a bed of concrete and asphalt.

Now I know what you are going to say, so perhaps I can save you the effort. You are going to say that the name of the house that formally occupied this desirable plot of development land was "Delamere" and therefore the name follows a fine tradition. But, I ask you, what kind of tradition is that. The owner of the old house obviously chose a name so that it would sound middle class, middle England, middle everything. If the word Delamere means anything it refers to a wood in Cheshire or is a corruption of the Old English meaning "of the lake". Look around you, we are nowhere near Cheshire and I will give you £10 in Council Tax for every lake you can see.

No, if you want the name of the new road to connect to the former owner of the house, why not call it Kagan Gardens (after Lord Kagan who lived there) or Gannex Garden (after the coats that made him is fortune and enabled him to buy the house). Or you could name in Armley Avenue after the prison he spent time in for tax evasion in the 1980s. Perhaps we would be better to forget the history : name it in the contemporary style, in commemoration of the times within which it has been laid out and built up. "Hedge Fund Crescent" has a certain ring to it, as does "Speculation Road". 

Yours, as ever,

Alan Burnett


  1. Derivative Drive?

    Bonus Close?

    Too Big To Fail Terrace?

  2. I'm reminded of a Simpson's episode in which they showed the street signs where Montgomery Burns lived - the corner of God and Mammon.

    Great letter.

  3. I'm surprised they're even asking for input from the public. Here in the States they just name the roads and you're out of luck if you don't like it. Granted, in a lot of rural areas here the roads are named after families who live along them, but that's just a case of the Dept. of Public Works bowing to the inevitable.

  4. After reading your letter I have no doubt they will be impressed! Maybe someone will 'rejobulate' you to country-wide naming of streets! :)

    Thanks for finding Ben's face on my photo..how did I miss that? haha.

  5. Alan, you are a wickedly lovely man! You have hit upon a pet peeve of mine (and Gem's)... cutesy, meaningless civic names that rob a place of its history and dignity.

  6. I was going to suggest Avarice Avenue or Rapacity Row. I hope you're going to publish the Local Authority's response.

  7. I agree with Martin. I'd love to see the response!

    Opposite the house where I grew up, there were fields. Gradually, houses have been built. The small estate directly opposite was named 'Poppyfields'. I have no recollection of EVER seeing a poppy there! In actual fact, the name of the area was Hell's Meadows, through which ran Hell's Brook! I wonder why they didn't select that for their new estate.

  8. Well I think I know where they'll file your letter and it won't be under 'd' for Delamere

  9. You tell 'em.

    Did the Miss Sykes who walked 248 miles around Brighouse Town Hall in 1878 ever have a street named after her? That would be good.

    I once shared a holiday cottage with some friends - I forget where. We were amazed to discover that it was in fact Lord Kagan's "country seat". The family used one half of the house, paying guests like us the other. There were loads of framed Giles (I think), "Mac" and suchlike cartoons lampooning him hung on the stairs.

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  11. Excellent letter, Alan. I think Burnett Road sounds pretty good.

  12. Delamere - if it was here in Quebec they would say it meant "of the mother"!
    Evelyn (still in Montreal)


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