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Second World War hero who inspired a street name

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


 

AS reported by the Leader last week, a local authority has rejected a proposal to ban naming streets after people.

It was a sensible move on the part of Denbighshire Council, according to Flintshire and Wrexham historians, who point out that there is a grand tradition of street-naming in North Wales.

A report was drafted to avoid civic embarrassment if a namesake was found to have behaved improperly, as happened in Scarborough with Savile’s View, named after the late, disgraced DJ and TV personality Jimmy Savile.

But councillors gave the measure short shrift, and it was agreed that famous names would be allowed if the namesake had a significant historical and cultural link to the county.

Alister Williams, Wrexham historian and owner of Bridge Books on Park Avenue, said: “The tradition of naming a street after a person has been going on for a long, long time.”

For instance, there is Jeffreys Road in Wrexham.

“The road was named after the Jeffreys family, of whom ‘Hanging Judge’ George Jeffreys was one,” said Mr Williams.

“They were an old Welsh family who lived in Acton Hall from the 1600s to the 1800s. Quite a number of them went into law. George became Lord Chief Justice of England and the Lord Chancellor.”

He earned his grim moniker for handing out harsh judgements to rebels fighting to overthrow James the Second, but the Jeffreys family weren’t all bad.

Mr Williams said: “They were very involved in the area. They were the most important family in Wrexham at one time. A number of their sons died young, and the line passed to the daughters, who also died out.

“Eventually Acton Hall was bought by the Cunliffe family. Now it is no longer there.”

A more recent local name was provided by Wrexham-raised David Lord, who gave his name to Llys David Lord, a local housing authority development built in the 1990s.

Flight Lieutenant Lord was posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross for his valour during the Second World War.

His VC citation detailed how Lord, in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire, insisted on flying his damaged plane to a drop zone so he could deliver supplies to desperate Allied troops.

While flying at 1,500 feet near Arnhem, the starboard wing of his Dakota aircraft was hit and burst into flames.

The citation continues: “By now the starboard engine was burning furiously. Flight Lieutenant Lord came down to 900 feet, where he was singled out for the concentrated fire of all the anti-aircraft guns.

“On reaching the dropping zone he kept the aircraft on a straight and level course while supplies were dropped. At the end of the run, he was told that two containers remained.

“Although he must have known that the collapse of the starboard wing could not be long delayed, Flight Lieutenant Lord circled, rejoined the stream of aircraft and made a second run to drop the remaining supplies.”

He then ordered his crew to abandon the Dakota, but the wing collapsed and the aircraft fell.

There was only one survivor, the navigator, and tragically, the drop zone had been overrun by enemy forces, making Lord’s sacrifice noble but futile.

Mr Williams said: “A lot of people thought Lord Street was named after him, but it wasn’t. There’s been a Lord Street in Wrexham for a long time. So it’s good they named Llys David Lord after him, and it has his full name too, so there’s no mistaking it.

“We have a lot of streets in Wrexham named after councillors. There’s Herbert Jennings Avenue and Hampson Avenue, both named after aldermen (councillors).

“And there are streets named after poets, like Ffordd Dylan, after Dylan Thomas and Ffordd Hooson after Isaac Daniel Hooson. I think it’s a good thing.”

Statesmen like Anthony Eden and Winston Churchill lend their names to the byways of Wrexham.

A sizeable number of streets in the town were named after military figures, including Montgomery Road, named for Field Marshall Montgomery.

Mr Williams said: “A whole area near the Wrexham barracks were named after men awarded the Victoria Cross.

“I think it’s an honour. If someone does prove to be unsuitable then it can always be changed and someone more worthy can be put in their place.”

Over in Flintshire, the tradition of naming streets after local figures continues.

Holywell historian Brian Taylor said: “The town is full of historical names, like St Bueno and St Winefride, but we also have Tudur Close, which is named after Tudur Roberts, I believe, who was a local councillor and businessman.”

Vicki Perfect, county councillor and Flint historian, robustly defended the tradition.

She said: “We have Henry Taylor Street in Flint. He was a town councillor for 32 years, founded Flint Historic Society and had a lot to do with saving the castle when there was talk of using part of it to make the town hall.

“Then there’s Muspratt Way, named after Richard Muspratt, who was mayor 18 times. He set up the alkali processing plant in Flint that was one of the biggest employers in the area for many years.

“Naming streets after people who have done a lot for an area is a commendable thing. They have real links to this place.”

Cllr Perfect said the tradition was similar to the one which led the naming of the Jade Jones Pavilion.

She said: “We are so proud of that and so proud of her.

“Having a street named after you is quite an honour. Who knows what names will turn up next?”

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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