What name should we give a new county?

Published date: 02 April 2014 |
Published by: Rhian Waller 
Read more articles by Rhian Waller  Email reporter


A POSSIBLE merger between Flintshire and Wrexham Councils has got tongues wagging again in both counties.

The Williams Commission report, written by former NHS Wales chief executive Paul Williams and published in January by local government bosses in Cardiff Bay, suggested the two authorities should come together as part of a national reform of council structure in Wales.

The report said discussions about how to reorganise should begin by Easter, but its controversial central suggestion to reduce Wales’ councils from 22 to just 10, 11 or 12 – all three options including the move to unify Wrexham and Flintshire – has lit the blue touchpaper.

Many are opposed to the idea.

Cllr Keith Gregory, who represents the Smithfield ward on Wrexham Council, said the proposals could be a “nightmare”, but the report argues that a merger is a practical way of facing ever-tightening budgets and increased austerity.

Ultimately, we will only know whether the merger will work or not after it has come to pass. Until then we can only speculate.

One of the most contentious points is what the new county would be called.

Will we return to Clwyd, or will Wrexham or Flintshire take precedence, or will we find ourselves somewhere entirely new?

We are surrounded by relatively young institutions and organisations that have significant and sometimes historic names.

Did non-Welsh speakers know, for instance, what the name of the Welsh Government’s history and heritage arm Cadw means?

A spokesman for the organisation, which looks after Basingwerk Abbey in Holywell, and Flint and Ewloe castle among others, said: “Cadw is the Welsh word for to ‘keep’ and ‘protect’.

“This is the 30th year since we’ve been set up. Who came up with the name, I don’t know, but it is very appropriate.”

Glyndwr University in Wrexham also has a name that should resonate strongly for some.

Gareth Williams, former lecturer and local historian, said: “I worked at the university back when it was NEWI (North East Wales Institute). It changed its name in 2008.

“Owain Glyndwr was a very important figure in Welsh history.

“He had family links to most parts of Wales, so he united the country against the English and carried out a campaign against them in the 1400s.

“His campaign included Ruthin, down to St Asaph and stretched to Oswestry, and then he was defeated just outside Welshpool. After that, he disappeared.”

Glyndwr resurfaced in 1401, when he carried out a “wonderfully long” campaign against the English, which went on for more than a decade.

Mr Williams said: “Then he vanished again. I suspect he went to live with his daughter, but a mythology has built up around him.

“At the time, the English troops were terrified of him. They thought he had supernatural powers because he could move his troops so quickly, and they thought he could set the weather against them.

“There’s a story that he will rise again to unite Wales when he is needed.”

Interestingly, the naming of Glyndwr University fulfils one of the leader’s ambitions.

Mr Williams said: “He was a real statesman, not just a war lord. He set up a parliament in Machynlleth and he wanted a Welsh church.

“With that in mind, he wanted to set up two universities, one in South Wales and one in the North. So Glyndwr University is fulfilling his legacy.”

Coleg Cambria, a relatively new organisation created last year when Deeside and Northop colleges merged with Yale College in Wrexham, also has a significant name.

A college spokesman said: “The name Coleg Cambria was very carefully chosen.

‘Coleg’ is the Welsh name for college and ‘Cambria’ is the Latin name for Wales.

“We are very committed to being a college for Wales, and immensely proud to be a truly Welsh institution in North East Wales.”

The verbosely-named Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which oversees hospitals and medical facilities in Flintshire and Wrexham, has an equally significant name.

According to a health board spokesman, it was decided to honour someone from North Wales who had made a significant contribution to healthcare.

Bosses eventually settled on Betsi Cadwaladr, the ‘Welsh Florence Nightingale’, who served as a nurse during the Crimean war in the 1800s.

Born Elizabeth Cadwaladr in 1789 near Bala, she was one of 16 children and the daughter of a Methodist preacher.

She died in 1860 after her health suffered due to the conditions she endured nursing soldiers near the front line.

l Anybody with any interesting origin stories about local names can get in touch by emailing

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