Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 16

Acts 9 v 1 – 6/ Acts 9 v 11 – 19/

 Luke 24 v 13 – 35

I’m still going through the brief case that I retrieved from the roof space. It’s hard to understand why I keep this memorabilia, but after saying that it’s very interesting.

If I said to you, The Town Improvement Clauses Act 1847, I know you would say, ‘ Oh yes I know that one’, and then walk away shaking your head. Most people have never heard of it and I suspect most people would not be at all interested in it.

It is a piece of statutory legislation that sits in the background, minding its own business, never usually causing a fuss, and yet it has affected every one of us in the UK at some point in our lives.

We all live somewhere, and that somewhere is usually on a street or road, and has a number relative to that street or road. It’s called an address, and the requirement to have an address comes from; – you’ve guessed it, ‘The Town Improvement Clauses Act 1847’.

It requires local authorities to give every street or road a name, and every property on that street or road, a number. Subsequently, somewhere in the depths of the council offices there is someone who decides and allocates a suitable name and number for the properties, and for 40 years or so it was me.

The job is not as easy as it would seem. Most councils issue guidelines to follow, such as;-

  1. Street or road names must not be blasphemous or offensive. – Take care with this one because in today’s multi- cultural society what is innocent to some people is offensive to others.
  2. Street and road names must not be confusing. – You can’t have ‘X’ or ‘Y’ street because it does not mean anything.
  3. Street or road names must not be living people’s names especially politicians. – Some ‘in memory’ names such as Brian Clough Way are acceptable.
  4. Street and road names must not be duplicated in the same area. Post Codes do help to a certain extent.

I can’t wait for ’Coronavirus Close’ to pop up somewhere when the crisis is over.

I had a problem on one occasion when the street name proposed happened to be that of a gang land leader on an estate, the police objected fearing social unrest would result.

House numbers can also be a problem. No one wants number 13 or 666.

We have also had some humorous experiences, for example one particular resident on a new estate took exception to the allocated street names, so he proceeded to remove all the road signs and replace them with some of his own choice. He was gently advised that his actions were in fact illegal and he would be charged for the cost of replacing them.

We also had one developer who wished to used cartoon characters as a theme for the new estate; – imagine Donald Duck or Mr Blobby Avenue?

Historically road names can give us a clue as to their origin; Bakehouse Road suggests a bakery in the past, similarly Blacksmith Yard or Sadlergate. We even had one resident who complained about his garden being constantly flooded, his address was Riverside View.

Themed names are popular for new housing developments and when you are out for a walk to get your exercise during this crisis, take a note of the street names and try to identify the theme.

Of course street names and numbers are not specific to the UK and they apply across the world. They are part of our identity, how many times are we asked for our name date of birth and address, the three pieces of identification that are specific to ourselves.

In the scriptures our attention is drawn to the importance of some road names and their significance.

Damascus Road is associated with the conversion of Paul, and we often refer to our own meeting with Christ to be our Damascus Road experience.

Straight Street, being the place where Paul was led to wait for Ananias, the persecutor being led by the hand of the persecuted.

Emmaus Road, where the two disciples walked with Jesus, not realising that it was him. They received comfort and hope from his teaching as they walked.

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was the chosen place for the Good Samaritan to demonstrate his love and caring for his fellow man, beaten and robbed by thieves.

Golgotha was the place where Jesus died to save us all.

Disclaimer; – I have been out of the legislation limelight for over ten years now and while the Town Clauses Improvement Act 1847 was still on the statute books when I retired, I accept no responsibility for it being repealed since that time without anyone telling me or asking my permission.            

Derek T.

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