A Letter from Nantwich

June 2005 - with a follow-on item from August 2007

The street which has no homes

 

 

 

 

Left: Blankney Avenue, off Whitlow Avenue.

Above: The Blankney, off The Waterlode

 

THE roadway above might look like a link between two streets, but - although there are no houses and no street name sign - you are looking at Blankney Avenue, Nantwich. Ex-pats and others who know Nantwich, it runs between Whitlow Avenue and Cronkinson Avenue.

   It was originally named Blankney Drive 50 years ago, according to a group who are running a campaign to have the name made official in the 60th anniversary year of the Victory in Europe and Victory over Japan in the Second World War.

   Their campaign is in memory of the sailors of HMS Blankney, the ship that was adopted by the townspeople during the war.

   Although there are no houses in the short street - which is no more than 100 yards or so long - a  house-building firm wanted to squeeze

yet more houses into the town on this spot last year. But local residents opposed the move on the grounds that it had always been the intention in the original plan that the two green areas should remain house-free. In any case - as you can see - the grassed area is little more eight to 10 yards wide - where would the houses go?! 

   The Minutes of Nantwich Urban District Council (from the days before Nantwich was swallowed up in a Crewe and Nantwich Borough, leaving us with a Town Council) show the intention to call the street Blankney Drive. The name was later changed to Blankney Avenue but a sign was never erected in the 1950s because - it is believed - money was in short supply in post-war Nantwich and no one lived in the street any way.

   The Minutes are now housed in the record office at Chester, so townspeople are not just relying on memory. A small party checked them out recently.

 

UPDATE

Residents complain

THE residents of The Blankney have complained about approval being given to the name Blankney Avenue by Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council.

   According to a report in the Nantwich Chronicle of April 5, 2006, they say they should have been consulted before the name was allowed and feel they have now lost their identity.

    A borough council spokesman is quoted as saying there were no houses in the short road and so there shouldn't be any confusion - and they consulted Nantwich Town Council and Royal Mail "who both had no concerns."

    This move comes on top of another battle having been fought by the same residents, preventing a developer from squeezing more homes into their small cul-de-sac.

    A pity that HMS Blankney cannot sail to their aid!

 

ACCORDING to "Talk of the Town" (the newsletter of Nantwich Town Council) for Spring 2004, the town's link with HMS Blankney came when the government of the day launched an initiative for towns throughout the country to adopt a ship. This would give support to the sailors and give the townspeople - often miles from the sea - an interest in naval warfare. 

  A plaque in Brookfield Hall, the headquarters of the Town Council, says it was "presented to Nantwich Town Council by members of the ship's crew in recognition of the support for their re-unions held in the town annually from 1989 to 2001".

   H.M.S. Blankney was a Hunt class escort destroyer named after Blankney Hunt in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.

 

lThis  is based on a report in The Nantwich Chronicle of June 16 and the Spring 2004 "Talk of the Town".   

 

Picture: The plaque as seen in "Talk of the Town"

 

  Two ladies, local resident Sue Garnett and Cllr Edith Williams of the Borough Council, are leading the campaign and the council's planning department have said there is an application for name plates to be erected.

There is just one fly in the ointment. There is already a street in Nantwich called The Blankney (pictured). This was no doubt named after the same ship - although much later than the original street.

    Mind you, Council officials believe that as there is no-

 

one living in Blankney Avenue who would require letters to be delivered, the postmen and women are not going to be confused by the two similarly named streets.    

   In any case we already have a Park Road and Park View (different parks), as well as Queen's Drive and Queen Street, not to mention streets with similar names in the same area - such as Barony Road, Buildings, Court and Terrace - without any confusion for the postal authorities as far as I know. 

 

The story continues in August 2007                                                                                                                                                

Left: The new sign in Blankney Avenue

 

Right: The extra houses in The Blankney, on the right of the picture

THIS is a tale of two Blankneys - with different results.

   First, the campaigners who wanted a name sign erecting in Blankney Avenue (top of page) have had their way (above).

   Secondly, builders who wanted to add a couple of houses to the end of a cul-de-sac development off the Waterlode - our inner ring road - have had theirs ( above right).

   Blankney Drive as it was originally called 55 years ago is a road in name only. No houses were ever built there. And no sign was ever put up - until now.

   It has taken local Borough Councillor Edith Williams and her fellow campaigners four years to get the signs (one at each end) put up. Rather optimistically, I think, Cllr Williams says (in The Nantwich Chronicle) that

 

 

the two pieces of land (verges really) are not big enough for a housing development. She wants the land to stay empty as a tribute to the men who served on HMS Blankney (adopted by Nantwich in the Second World War). She even suggests trees are planted as a living memorial. That would be nice; the area is a little bare. But an area in the centre of Nantwich measuring about 15 yards by 45 yards (very roughly) is the subject of a planning application a four-storey block of 10 flats (See this Letter from Nantwich). The Blankney Avenue pieces of land are about 100 yards by 10 yards or so each.

  The residents of The Blankney (are you keeping up?) objected when Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council were asked to erect the name signs. They cited

confusion for the postmen and women.  Which is a bit much really when you think that Blankney Drive / Avenue was first on the scene by about half a century!

WHICH brings me to my second picture. This was taken (January 2008) of the extra homes in The Blankney (to which the original residents also objected). Although I object in principal to the influx of extra homes in Nantwich, I must admit I find these perfectly acceptable. They fill in a small blank space very neatly without overpowering the original homes.

   I am not sure about living in them though. As I said, they are on the inner ring road and opposite a town centre car park. I don't know how much, if any, disturbance there is at night, but it won't be perfectly quiet there. 

 FURTHER UPDATES 

Trees halt houses plan

FEBRUARY 2010

LOCAL residents who planted six trees (rowan and cherry) in the avenue see that event as a sign that plans for houses on two small areas each side of the short road will now not happen.

   One of the trees is in memory of Horace and Alice Davies ("Proud Dabbers"), grandparents of Sue Garnett, one of the people behind the trees idea. Another is a tribute to the first Mayor of Nantwich, Cllr Edith Williams, who ends her term of office this May. A third commemorates HMS Blankney.

   The work was carried out by Nantwich Town Council and Wulvern, the firm which took over the running of the

 

council's stock of rented houses as well as building some new homes. 

 The tree to Sue's grandparents is of particular importance to her as one she planted herself lasted two hours before vandals ripped it up, she told me.

   The plaques have also been hammered into the ground in the past.

   The trees are seen (left) in March 2010. The trees blossomed in May.

 

HMS Blankney on blog

READ more about H.M.S. Blankney on the Blankney Blog.  Blankney is a village in Lincolnshire. Among a wide variety of articles on this blog is an article about the wartime ship. 

 

Mentioned in war book

NANTWICH historian Paul Simpson writes: "HMS Blankney is mentioned in one of Mark Potts' books “Crewe and Nantwich at War” Volume 1. It says “During Warship Week in January/February 1942, the townsfolk of Crewe raised £277,142 which was enough to purchase the destroyer's (HMS Ambuscade) hull. Nantwich had a fund-raising event and provided a fund of £224,944 for HMS Blankney”.

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