What’s in a street name . .?

Vine Court looking towards Canal and Turner And Wainwrights
Vine Court looking towards Canal and Turner And Wainwrights

WHERE do street names originate? Where do you think your own street name came from and who made the final decision on that name.

The obvious ones are of course based on direction – North Street, East Street, South Street and West Avenue. Then there is what I will call sub-divisions on those for example Lower Oxford Street as against just Oxford Street or Upper Bonegate instead of just Bonegate.

But what is the difference between a road and a street? – I have heard it said that roads go to places and streets are places. If that were true what about the Roman road Whatling Street which was originally 276 miles long. But today there seems to be little difference between a road and a street when a new housing development is built.

Why is our street called a Close? This is the same as a Court or Place they are all generally cul-de-sacs. Whereas a Crescent is shaped like a letter C and will usually come out into the same street it came in from.

An Avenue was often thought of as a grand street and just as a Boulevard was, it would be tree lined.

Going back to the names that are given, it’s of course the council that has the last say on such matters. Although suggestions can be submitted by builders, developers and even from local groups and individuals, there is a department at the council that deals with such matters.

The names can be named after royalty, a famous person, or have a connection with the local community itself. When T.F.Firth’s was closed and demolished the memory of the mill lives on in Bobbin Close, Axminster Drive, Spool and Yarn Courts. The family name has also been included with Freeman Court which was the middle name of T.F.Firth. In Hove Edge there is Newton Park which is named after Newton Brooke from the stone quarrying and flag making business. Even Brooklyn Terrace off Half House Lane has a link to the same company.

Bethel Street comes from the Hebrew Beth, meaning house, and el, meaning God. Bethel means House of God. Park Chapel was built on Bethel Street in 1795, but takes its name from the fact there was a Brighouse Park close to where the chapel was built, with an ornamental fountain close by.

But there are other street names that are taken from the medieval field names that over the centuries many were built on. For example Croft Street which is off Briggate, this relates to an enclosed meadow or arable land; Kiln Fold at Clifton was once a small enclosure or a pen for animals.

This week’s featured photo is of Vine Court which stood at the end of Bank Street and was accessible from Elland Road via what all the local people referred to as the ‘Dark Passage’.

So why was this called Vine Court- if it was a Court in the true sense it should be enclosed at one end. This one almost was but for a small footpath that enabled residents to walk across a handbridge across the canal. Why was it called Vine Court? At 169 Elland Road was the Vine Hotel which closed in 1933.

Thanks to Malcolm Bull’s fascinating Calderdale Companion website, he says that the Vine was opened c1860 and began life as a Beerhouse. Beginning its life as a house next to a mill it is likely that the houses in this photograph were all built from those times and used as mill workers houses. ‘What shall we call these new houses’ was probably a question in the 1860s ‘Vine Court’ – because of the beerhouse and the properties were built with a dead end, thinking about it you can see the logic.