Sunday, 20 May 2012


Today my home town of Staines officially becomes Staines-upon-Thames. And thoroughly depressing it is too.

Is this to distinguish the town  from Staines-upon-somewhere else ? Er no - Staines is unique as a place name in this country. This name change is nothing to do with clarity - and everything to do with an snobbery and a social inferiority complex.

Unlike Kingston-upon-Thames, Richmond-upon-Thames or Walton-upon-Thames - plain old Staines  used to be a proper town and not just a dormitory suburb for London's middle classes. It had a famous - and pungent -  Lino factory and an Hawker-Sidley engineering factory that our house backed onto it. 

Staines was a prosperous working class town that only ended up in Surrey by an administrative quirk when Middlesex was broken up. It actually used to have more in common with the new towns on the opposite edge of London - in Essex. Which is no accident - because like many new towns to the East of the city  - bombed-out Eastenders were relocated to Staines after the war to take up work in the new light industries there.

Not any more. Staines' main claim to fame is now two shopping centres - full of the same  homogenised retail outlets that can be found just about anywhere in the UK. So maybe the whole Staines-upon-Thames  thing acknowledge this by  relocating the town in Middle England.

It is a thoroughly post-Blairite bit of re-branding. Proof that whilst you may not be able to polish a turd you can at least give it a new name...

1 comment:

Chris H said...

I moved to Pooley Green in 1972 and can only remember the Hawker Siddeley factory as Petters. Never worked there, only ever visited their social club.

Agree, you can't polish a turd.