WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Posted on Wednesday, October 18, 2017


WHAT'S IN A NAME?

You may have noticed a mild tremor on Facebook at our use of the term Redgate in a recent property post to describe the location of a house on Charman Road in Redhill.

Some years ago, residents of the streets just south of Linkfield Roundabout (where Redhill and Reigate meet) began using the term Redgate to describe their particular corner of the neighbourhood.

These streets have long been the most sought after and expensive in Redhill because they are within walking distance of Reigate's town centre. They attract Reigate buyers because of their location and beauty – people know nice when they see it. There's not really any evidence that house prices increase in a group of roads simply because someone gives them a name. People will only pay more to live in one street over another if there is a tangible reason to do so.

Forming new names from old ones is nothing new. The two Hungarian cities Buda and Pest became one in 1873, while New Yorkers are constantly having major fun with acronyms, most famously Tribeca (Triangle Below Canal St), Nolita (North of Little Italy) and SoHo (South of Houston). Even the Germans are at it, with the borders of Berlin’s Kreuzberg and Neukölln unofficially labelled as Kreuzkölln by the bohemian locals.

Humans are hard wired for smaller social groups. Sometimes that means moving to a village and sometimes it means making their own. In cities all over the world people are creating their own "urban villages" as places of community among the bustle.

Look at the SE1 area of London. Here you'll find Bankside, Bermondsey, Bermondsey Village, South Bermondsey, Borough, Borough Market, Waterloo, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Elephant & Castle and Southwark - 11 different neighbourhoods with their own identity inside a single postcode.

Bankside goes back to at least Elizabethan times and had fallen out of use, yet with the regeneration of the South Bank its 500 year-old name was revived. Today Bankside is rightfully a Londoners’ favourite.

In Redhill & Reigate there are plenty of examples of place names coming into – and going out of – use. Redhill was called Warwick Town in the 1800s. Holmethorpe is on the map, but no one says they live there. Woodhatch isn’t on the map, but some call it their home. And what about the unofficially titled Lesbourne Village? We salute its residents and traders for their splendid efforts.

Every city, town, village and hamlet in the world has been given its name by people (usually locals), along with every country, landmark, building and ocean; none had names before someone invented them.

Most neighbourhoods recall their location, whether geographic (like a hill), structural (like a gate), or from their use (the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham taps its large contingent of jewellery makers).

Redgate is a word that joins Reigate and Redhill together. It doesn’t reject, it includes. It says: “we’re not one or the other, we are both”. How nice is that? With a new cinema coming to Redhill, we’ll doubtless be welcoming more evening visitors from Reigate, just as people from Redhill already enjoy Reigate for its wonderful restaurants.

Everybody needs good neighbours, and all progress begins with language. With that in mind, Redgate seems like a nice start.