The Civic Society is a consultee of Colchester Borough Council when there are new streets to be named in the urban part of the Borough. Our concern is that our street names reflect Colchester’s rich heritage, both recent and in the further past. This was not always happening until we became involved.
We have built up a library of about 50 suitable names which can be used when we are invited to suggest names. A recent example is Ruth King Close off Park Road [photo] which abuts the County High School for Girls in Norman Way. Ruth King was a prominent former Headmistress of the Girls High School. A naming ceremony took place led by the Mayor of Colchester and attended by many ‘Old Girls’ of the School.
If you would like to recommend a name for a future street in the town please let us know at email@example.com. You should note –
* Names cannot be used where they might be confused with existing street names for the sake of postal deliveries and the emergency services.
* Where a street is names after an individual it is good practice to use both first name and surname (like Ruth King) to avoid ambiguity as to who it is named for.
* It is current Colchester Borough Council policy that streets should not be named for living people.
The Street Names Of Colchester
The Civic Society’s policy for Street Naming is to propose names that have a real connection to the area or the people who have lived there. There is no definitive list of street names and the reasons for them, but one is in hand.
However, one was published in 1936. It was compiled by Alderman E. Alec Blaxill, a member of Colchester Town Council and chairman of the Highways Committee from 1911. As it was this committee that was responsible for Street Naming, he was well placed to know why each name had been chosen.
In 1911, the town was mainly the Town Centre, surrounding roads and the main routes in and out of town, plus New Town and the Hythe. Blaxill saw the building of the first Council Houses and the expansion in private housing after the first World War. Since then the Town, now City, has increased in size massively.
Alderman Edwin Alec Blaxill was born in 1873, a member of the family that ran the Builders merchants Kent Blaxill.. He was elected to the Council in 1905 as a Liberal, became Mayor for the first time in 1909 and became an Alderman in 1911. He played a leading part in Council administration until his death aged 80 and was heavily involved in organising the civilian effort during WW1. A school was named after him in 1955. His family have kindly agreed that we can publish Street Names booklet on our website.
Street Naming - A personal account from Jo Edwards
Colchester’s rapid expansion has resulted in a need for great numbers of new street names. Colchester Civic Society, realising that an opportunity to recognise our rich heritage was being missed, offered help to Colchester Borough Council in this matter and were eventually accepted as consultees on street names in the urban part of the Borough. Not every developer is prepared to play ball, but some are. By chance, the first opportunity for input by the newly formed Street Names Sub Committee of the Civic Society was the development on the site of the erstwhile Essex Education Offices at Altnacealgach in Park Road, immediately adjacent to CCHS. They were told that the road into the development was likely to become Scholar Close, a name that had been approved by ward councillors and the developer. Although this reflected the past use of the site, the committee thought it was far too bland and decided to ask me what I thought as they knew I was an Old Girl. As Civic Society Vice Chair and Old Girls Association Secretary, I was in the perfect position to liaise, and liaise I did. The OGA members were quite predictable and I was very pleased to report back that they wanted the road to be Ruth King Close. The Civic Society had quite a fight on its hands but the new name was eventually accepted. Henry Spyvee, a former Borough Councillor and one time Mayor of Colchester, who chairs the Street Name Sub Committee, commented that “The collective wrath of the OGA was not something that Colchester Borough Council were prepared to face!”
The Civic Society decided that there should be a formal unveiling of the street sign, something that we will aim to do wherever possible as it is good to highlight the reasons for a name, particularly for the new residents. The OGA were obviously invited, as were representatives from the School, the developers, the ward councillors and, of course, the residents. The Mayor, Councillor Theresa Higgins, agreed to unveil the sign with help from current CCHS students – Year Seven and Sixth Form. And so it was that, on 11th March, a bright, sunny morning, a large group gathered to watch this wonderful commemoration of an extraordinary Headmistress. Henry Spyvee and our own Chair, Liz White, both spoke. It was a very poignant, moving, occasion but there was laughter too as Henry recounted the story of Eileen Warner’s terror when she couldn’t understand the Maths homework set by Miss King. Eileen’s father told her to go and see Miss King the following day to confess that she was stuck, saying that he would go with her if necessary. Eileen plucked up the courage to face the music by herself, although she was absolutely petrified. To her surprise, Miss King sat her down and went through the lesson again until she understood. Later in life, Eileen became …. a Maths teacher!