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How exactly did they name all those new town streets?

Hemel street names heritage feature. Aerial picture of Adeyfield.

Hemel street names heritage feature. Aerial picture of Adeyfield.

Have you ever wondered where your street or road got its name from, and if there was any particular reason for it being called what it is?

Well, help is at hand, in the shape of this new reference book which delves into the road names and more of Hemel Hempstead.

The book was the result of a task undertaken following a simple question asked by Mike Stanyon, who was then Dacorum Borough Council’s heritage officer, at a meeting of the Hemel Hempstead Local History & Museum Society.

A project was proposed, and as we were then pretty new to it all, up went our hands – and after all this time, our work and effort has come to fruition.

It has taken more than 10 years of hard work – yes, even blood, sweat and tears – but finally the finished article is ready for you to enjoy at your leisure.

The whole thing is preceded with a look at the history of roads and road building, with a special look at how the Romans gave us the ‘know how’ to build them.

The questions “Why do we name our roads?” and “Who is responsible for the naming?” are both asked and the answers can all be found inside.

There is a serious look at the astrological and heavenly side of The Heights in Highfield, where one name, Hidalgo, gave particular issues, as it just did not seem to fit in with the other themes. But it eventually did, so take a look and see for yourselves just how it did.

Thorough investigation is also made into the tithe details of the 19th century, along with the field names which were in use long before anyone decided to build on the land. Indeed, there are field names dating back to medieval times that are still in use today.

The question of why we decided to use themes and group naming is also looked at and some of the results may well be a surprise, since they are all over the town.

Naturally, there are many council-based road names, taking in such themes as mayoral names, and other connected people. Also find out who, locally, was responsible for the naming of the roads of Hemel Hempstead New Town.

Of course, there are many other people mentioned in our local road names, some of whom you may not even put together, some of whom you would probably not ever have heard of, but all have their little piece to tell. There are comedians, local heroes, national heroes, not-so-well-known builders, people from the past and royalty, there is even a murder victim from the 19th century. Finally, would you like to find out which roads were named after the places where a council member went on holiday, just because he loved it there?

As with other towns, we have roads and streets named after inns or public houses, both past and present. Naming like this is part of our British heritage and, as stated, it is common everywhere.

Finally, after a good look at ‘the best of the rest’, which features all the roads and streets we could not put under any specific heading, we thought it would be a nice aside to include a look back at the roads and streets of the town that are no longer there, covering both previous names for roads still used today, or just roads that have disappeared.

Here, also, is a look at some of the old schools and buildings of the district.

Furthermore, we also looked at some of the enchanting local names given to some or part of our roads that still exist today.

We sincerely hope you and your families enjoy our very streetwise book. We would also like to thank Dacorum Borough Council staff and members for their interest and support.

Of course, with the ever increasing demand for housing, and the constant sight of buildings popping up all over the town, the project still continues, so there may be a follow up to this volume.

However, in the meantime, if you have a query and would like to know what, if anything, we have found out about your road, (if it is not included in the book), please feel free to contact us. The book will be on sale shortly, priced only £5. Contact details are available from www.dacorumheritage.org.uk or 01442 879525.

– Roy and Margaret Wood

 

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