Swindon in the 1930s was a typical factory town, chimneys belching out smoke and a seemingly permanent layer of soot everywhere,
I was born there and spent a glorious childhood amongst the grimy buildings and Great Western Railway steam engines, which I remember to this day with much affection,
In later years, however, whenever someone asked where I came from, I would reply “Wiltshire”, hoping they would not press for a more precise answer!
Having met and married a Cambridgeshire girl we settled in smart new council house south of the county, although I hated to admit living in rented housing, at least the street name gave no indication of its working class origins in the postal address. So when we found a neat little new build house to spend our retirement in Hunstanton, with a distant sea view, I was overjoyed with the road name of West View! I could hardly wait to send our new address to friends in Swindon. Then came the bombshell – the developer had been persuaded to call it after a local dignitary George Raines! I am sure that Mr Raines did some splendid things, but why did the council pick on my street? Connotations of Nelson Mandela council flats would surely spring to mind of anyone writing to me. I suppose I should be thankful it wasn’t Joe Bloggs being honoured.
My wife reminds me that I have nothing to be snobbish about – as usual she’s right!
George Raines Close