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Bringing the past into the present

Exemplar Award Winner- Winner National Gazetteers Naming Award: Colchester Borough Council

In 2006, Fläkt Woods relocated from its Tufnell Way site to a purpose built factory at Axial Way on the Colchester Business Park to the north of the town. The former site, close to both the railway station and Colchester General Hospital, was then earmarked for redevelopment.

Woods of Colchester, a privately owned company that had been producing electric motors and propeller fans in the garrison town since 1909, had used this site since 1937. Established by Maurice Wood, Woods of Colchester was, at its peak, one of the largest employers in the borough and the major producer of industrial fans and motors in Great Britain, with the factory at Braiswick accounting for 60% of all industrial fan exports from this country. In 1972, this earned the company the prestigious title of ‘Export Company of the Year’.

The redevelopment of one of the most important industrial sites and places of employment within Colchester provided Colchester Borough Council (CBC) with the opportunity to celebrate the past glories of the site and allow its story to live on for future generations.


Colchester has a legal responsibility to ensure that streets are named and properties numbered. The authority has the power to approve or reject property addresses submitted by developers or members of the public, or prescribe its own addressing schemes, with this power extending to commercial premises as well as domestic properties. However, proposals for street names are welcomed and community involvement in the street naming process is actively encouraged.

As prescribed in the ‘Street Naming and Numbering’ Policy document published by the council in 2009, guidelines to be followed when agreeing a new street name include:

• promotion of names with a local or historic significance to the area

• encouragement of names with a common theme on large developments

• avoidance of two developments with the same theme within the borough

• promotion of a company, service or product through street naming will not be allowed. (An exception to this may be made for a company that no longer exists, if used solely in an historical context so the claim of advertising cannot be made)

This policy follows nationally accepted data entry conventions and has been recognised as best practice within the Data Entry Conventions document used by all LLPG Custodians across England and Wales.

To create an identity for the new development and to provide lasting recognition of the importance of the site to the town and the part Woods of Colchester played in the local community, street names that provided reference to these facts were chosen. The process to select appropriate and fitting street names included consultation with councillors and the local Member of Parliament.

The following street names were selected and are now in use:

• Little Woods Mews

• Aerofoil Grove

• Engineers Square

• Axial Drive

• Turbine Road

• Blade Road

• Apprentice Drive (located on the site of the former apprentice school building)

• Fan Avenue

• Motor Walk

• Vortex Road

• Spindle Street

• Breeze Lane

• Woods Court

• Propelair Way (a product name used by Woods of Colchester)

Key benefits

• lasting recognition to the importance of the site and the part that the company, Woods of Colchester, played in the community

• an understanding for residents of local history and a collective sense of identity for those residing in the new development

• involvement of councillors and other elected members as well the developers and members of the public in the street naming process

• allocation of appropriate and legal names, integrated within the national gazetteers, and recognised by other addressing authorities and users including emergency services.

View from the authority

“Chorley Borough Council will always strive to pay respect to the history or geography of an area through its street naming and numbering process. However, this will never be to the detriment of the local community and we will, wherever possible, take into due consideration their feelings and opinions.”

-Johnathan Barclay System Support Assistant (GIS and LLPG), Chorley Council

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