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Preserving a seafaring past

Exemplar Award Winner- Highly Commended NLPG NSG Exemplar Award ‘Naming Award’ 2010: Canterbury City Council

Street naming and numbering officers at Canterbury City Council turned to local history for inspiration when naming the streets of the new Mariners View development in the thriving seaside town of Whitstable on the North Kent Coast.

Since the new development of 300 houses is close to the sea, it seemed appropriate to link the new street names to some aspect of local maritime history. The council consulted the local ‘Whitstable Society’ to provide the link between the new development and a piece of the town’s historic past.

Whitstable is famous for its oysters and hosts an annual Oyster Festival to this day. During the 19th Century the town supported a large fleet of over 150 ‘Yawls’, the locally built cutter rigged fishing ‘smaks’ that worked the oyster beds in the bay. The yawls were unique, designed for the shallow estuary waters and built in the local shipyard.

The fleet plied a steady trade with London but, by the 1920s, it had diminished in size and the industry was in decline. Thankfully, much of Whitstable’s oyster history has been recorded and there is even a website which lists both the yawls and their owners. It was to this list that the street naming and numbering officers turned, with each new road being named after one of these sturdy, long serving vessels.

One of the Whitstable yawls, ‘Favourite’, has survived and it is now preserved and located between two houses on ‘Island Wall’, just a few yards from the sea. It is a monument to Whitstable’s maritime heritage close to its original working home. Meanwhile, close by in Mariners View, its namesake, Favourite Road, along with Ibis Close, Speedwell Road, Major Close, Trilby Way, Emelina Way, The Oaks, Royal Native Way, Portlight Place, Thistle Drive and Tradewinds, act as constant reminders of Whitstable’s oyster heritage.

View from the authority

“Street naming and numbering is an important activity and it helps if new road and street names have some local resonance, as this acts to bind the old and the new together. Involving local people, who are interested in improving the amenity and utility value of the town, whilst preserving its character and heritage, can only lead to a positive outcome.”

-Jan Uden, Street Naming and Numbering Officer, Canterbury City Council.

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