What’s in a name? Letterheads, address cards, websites and ironing out confusion for visitors, for starters, when it comes to those who live or trade along the stretch of Blackpool Promenade currently known as Central Promenade, which could be renamed Queen Elizabeth Promenade, if council leaders have their way.
The national media has made much of the proposal to rebrand the Golden Mile QE Promenade in a bid to “go posh”.
On the QT, even for a local, it’s actually quite hard to work out just where QEP would be. Check out the current Blackpool A-Z Street Atlas and there’s no sign of Central Promenade between Central Pier Stop (trams) and Central Road listings.
Look under P for prom, for it pays to watch your Ps and Qs around would-be royal routes, and it’s broken into a series of postcode districts.
No sign of Central, although if you check into the Balmoral or Blenheim Mount hotels, both of which sound suitably regal, both lay claim to a Central Prom address.
Paradoxically, the Golden Mile does exist in official A-Z guideland, identified as off the seafront road known, all embracingly, as Promenade.
It’s only when you promenade that promenade, you spot the signs for Promenade suddenly becoming New South Promenade. Central is thought to stretch from the Tower and Golden Mile to just past Central Pier.
But QEP? Why not Prince William Parade or Jubilee Prom to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012?
There’s no shortage of royalist routes in the resort. North of Talbot Square to the Gynn is North Promenade (passing Queen Square facing the Metropole where Princess Parade, named after Princess Louise, one of Victoria’s daughters, starts) and Queens Promenade runs from the Gynn to Anchorsholme. There’s a Princes Way, off Queens Prom, at Little Bispham.
Queen Victoria Road is off Central Drive, and in central Blackpool, Victoria Street, Albert Road, King Street, fringe streets named after Victoria and Albert’s children, Leopold, Louise, Adelaide, and others. Plus there’s a Coronation Street – and a Regent Road.
One obscure favourite is Queen Vera Road, a tiny cul de sac off Edward Street, named after the Cotton Queen of Great Britain, Vera Bunn (nee Greenwood), when she was just 17 in 1937, and visited Abingdon Street Market traders. It’s on Blackpool Civic Trust’s heritage trail and has a blue plaque unveiled by the late Vera herself, long after she had moved to Poulton.
Top Blackpool historian Ted Lightbown admits there are precedents for renaming, but doesn’t much “care” for the idea and hopes it doesn’t “become the main election issue ... the Liberal Democrats might have to counter with the ‘Will and Kate Promenade’, while Labour might offer ‘Lord Prescott Promenade.’
“If it is to change, I’d prefer it to be officially named The Prom.”
Others own up to mixed feelings about the Conservatives’ proposal, if they retain power at the local elections, to rename the £100m new-look Central Promenade The Queen Elizabeth Promenade.
In the interests of even-handed reporting, it should be stressed that Labour considers there should be other priorities, and the Lib Dems don’t object but would rather a new development carried the royal moniker, rather than an existing street.
Blackpool Civic Trust chairman Elaine Smith thinks it’s a “great idea”. The former hotelier adds: “In the past, things were always named after royalty and, with the Queen’s 60th anniversary approaching, it would fit in perfectly.” But what of those who actually trade on Central Promenade?
Former London Docklands architect and structural engineer Bhikhu Mistry, owner-proprietor of the family-run Balmoral Hotel for six years, says: “I am all for it. The £100m investment marks a turning point for the resort, fortunes are already picking up, so why not a new name? I think it’s a great idea and will help ongoing regeneration. We should be altering brochures anyway to mark the change.”
Jeanette Davies, who runs Blenheim Mount, says: “There’s nothing wrong with Central Promenade.
“When it comes to identifying where we are, it says it all. Why mess with it?” Long-time visitors Andy and Helen Mitchell, from Fife, agree. “We know where we are with Central.”
Debra Laws, who is refurbishing her award- winning Crewes Original Hotel, for Easter, adds: “We’ve got the best location in Blackpool – renaming would confuse people. We should be consulted.”
The council is the statutory street naming authority, but it’s down to householders to inform official agencies of any changes. Existing residents are usually consulted, by ballot, with a majority required to make a change. Royal Mail also has a say, too, of course.
Renamed streets often incorporate the original name. Signs for The Esplanade, Fleetwood, include “formerly The Fielden Esplanade” – after philanthropist Samuel Fielden.