Sunday, 26 February 2012
Lane or Laine?
First, a short history lesson.
Before it became a fashionable seaside resort, Brighton was a small fishing village known as Brighthelmstone. The village was bounded on the north, south, east and west sides by North Street, South Street, East Street and West Street. South Street was on the top of a low cliff and has long since been washed away but the other three streets are still there. The southern boundary is now marked by Kings Road. Inside this rough square is the area known as The Lanes. There are roads of ordinary width, but there are also narrow streets, some only three or four feet wide, known as lanes - Meeting House Lane, Black Lion Lane etc. In other parts of Brighton and Sussex such narrow streets or paths would be known as twittens while elsewhere they would be alleys. Along these lanes are dotted what were originally fishermen's cottages. They became shops selling antiques and all sorts of ephemera but are now more likely to be up-market boutiques or jewellers' shops. The quirky element has moved across North Street to an area known as the North Laine. There were at one time three or four laines just outside the village, laine being an old local word meaning field.
Now within the North Laine is Bond Street and running off Bond Street to nowhere in particular is Bond Street Lane. At least, that is what it used to be called. The council fairly recently erected a new street name sign which read "Bond Street Laine". This was quickly spotted by people more knowledgeable than the council official responsible and the council was asked to change the sign for one with the correct spelling. Meanwhile, somebody has taped over the offending letter but if you enlarge the picture you can just spot the bottom of it peeping out from the adhesive tape.
One would think that to correct a mistake such as this would be relatively easy. Oh no. The council now has to apply to itself for permission to change the name of the street from Bond Street Laine to Bond Street Lane, notwithstanding that the name has always been what they are trying to change it back to! Alice in Wonderland couldn't do better.