Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The times they are a'changing.

Well, they have changed really, but I wanted to quote Bob Dylan.

In those heady days after the second world war, when the brave young men who survived came back to the UK full of joy at surviving and hope for a bright future, I really think for a few years they thought they were invincible.

Never again would there be rich and poor, landed classes and workers, we were all equal weren't we in the general run of things? Poor old Churchill, who had done such a magnificent job during the war years, was booted out in favour of a Labour Government - the Government for the working class, the Government which was going to pull us all up by our bootlaces and make us all equal.

Large council estates were built; housing was necessary after the war and town planners went to work with a will (not always as picturesquely as they should have done maybe) and houses went up all over the country - often on the edge of towns.

Yesterday I passed one such estate. As these estates go, this one is a good one - out on the edge of the town, nicely planned and quite open. I have noticed it ever since I have lived up here. The main road into the estate comes out on a traffic island and it has always interested me that the road in was called "Aneurin Bevan Way". Now he was an iconic figure in that Labour Government, along with his wife, Jennie Lee, they were almost idolised in those early days.

Of course, eventually Mrs Thatcher's Government came along. People were encouraged to buy their council houses, to aspire to being middle class, to leave the worker image behind - fallen into disuse like the Berlin wall.

I passed that road yesterday. No longer is it called Aneurin Bevan Way - it is called Oak Tree Drive, leading to Honeysuckle Close. How are the mighty fallen? Poor old Nye - every dog has his day and Nye's is well and truly past it seems. Are the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer - just as that Labour Government of all those years ago promised it never would happen again? Don't people who own their houses wish to be associated with one of the early pioneers whose name has all but been forgotten? To be honest, I think I would rather live in Oak Tree Drive than Aneurin Bevan Way. Not sure what tat makes me though.


Heather said...

Nye Bevan certainly did much to improve things for the working classes and should be remembered for that, but I agree that Oak Tree Close is the prettier address.
We have so many benefits today that were not available to earlier generations but for all that I feel that we have lost a lot too. I think that in many areas we have 'thrown the baby out with the bath water'.

John Going Gently said...

there comes a time when even the famous dissapear from memory..... it comes alot sooner to us mere mortals

MorningAJ said...

I think it's a shame that Oak Tree Way/Road/Close/Whatever has won out - because I bet there isn't an oak tree within miles of it. Poor old Nye Bevan.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Once they'd bought their houses, fitted UPVC front doors and parked their people-carriers outside Nye Bevan probably wouldn't want to be associated with the place anyway!

Gwil W said...

Zeitgeist is the word for this. The spirit of the times. Here in Austria it seems to be the reverse of what you experienced for they are naming streets after every Tom Dick and Harry. Every minor official almost. But then they come unstuck because these people mostly have skeletons in their closets and so the names of the streets are being continually changed. Roosevelt Square used to be Hermann Göring Square and before that it was Peace Square and before that it was Mexico Square .... I even know a street that used to be Brewery Street - a perfectly good name one would think especially as there used to be a brewery there - but now it has been renamed after a Bishop of the faith which continually has erupting scandals involving young boys - it may need renaming at some future date ... best to be safe. Now then, Oak Tree Drive - that's safe as houses!

Elizabeth said...

I'd go for Nye Bevan Road (failure to spell complicated names one of my failings)
As an English person, I have such mixed feelings about socialism --what hopes we had in the 60's about equality! Feel rather sad that the tide of socialism is receeding.
Feel myself heir (I wish) to all those earnest Fabians and George Orwell (who went, unhappily, to Eton...!)
America, 'the land of the almighty dollar' is much more dog eat dog but less preachy than Britain.
Must now take nap.......!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if people now would be able to pronounce his name? It comes easily to me since I am Welsh. I think the new name is nicer.

George said...

Yes, the times they are a'changing, Pat, and the rich are indeed getting richer and the poor getting poorer. In time, everything, including street names, fade away. It's entropy, the Third Law of Thermodynamics. During the meantime, have a Happy Valentine's Day.

Eryl said...

I much prefer the original because it tells a story, Oak Tree Drive seems empty in comparison. As for Honey Pot Lane: I'd rather live in a derelict factory!

Irene said...

People must remain tied to their roots, whatever the origins are. Oak Tree Drive is a silly name and means nothing. It has no history nor story. What do you tell your kids about it? It shouldn't be that easy to change a road's name.

Anonymous said...

We had a main arterial road close to where I lived when growing up, called Irish Harp Road. Residents of the area loved the name but when the Queen and Prince Phillip came out to Australia in the 1950's it was changed to Regency Road .It intersects Churchill Road! So many towns in South Australia are named after English and Irish towns and bear no resemblance to their foreign counterparts whatsoever, a bit of a joke in the dis-similarities actually.
Dublin,Kilkenny,Croydon,Brighton,Edinburgh, Stiling, Macclesfield, Findon and Felixstow, Surrey Downs - the list goes on around where I live.
Pre-European settlement, these places would have had Aboriginal names.
The name changing is still going on. Ayers Rock in Central Australia has now reverted back to the original indigenous Ullaru.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I don't generally like street names that commemorate individuals, however much I might admire that person.

As to Oak Tree Drive, if that drive is lined with oaks then wonderful, otherwise it would make me sad to think of the oaks that were lost to build the street or that were just imagined by the town planners to make people feel that their homes are closer to nature than they really are

Acornmoon said...

I grew up on one such estate and years later my parents opted to buy, it was a lovely home, three bedrooms, one large living room and one large kitchen plus an indoor bathroom. What luxury!

I am sure it was always the intention to build more affordable housing with the revenue raised by the sales but I don't think that ever happened, sad.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Interesting comments - varied and lots of food for though. Thank you for contributing to the debate.