Booklet brings Sidmouth road names to life

History behind Sid Valley street names revealed

THREE years ago, Nostalgia featured a project set up in 2005 by Sidmouth town councillor Ann Liverton, to research the origins of the town’s street names.

Dr Brian Golding, a member of Sid Vale Association, completed the research and the town council published his findings in an attractive booklet called Street Names of the Sid Valley.

There is a wide variety of sources for the town’s names, but some common themes include Old English names dating from settlements in the dark ages, including the …ton names such as Bulverton and Ascerton; names of medieval estates, such as Radway; old 18th century names for fields, including Beatlands, Sidlands and Peaslands; names of principal buildings beside roads, such as Fortescue, Livonia and Primley and names of landowners, builders and council officials, including Salter, Tyrell, Lock and Whitton.

One interestingly-named lane is Amyatts Terrace, which, says Brian, was originally called Amyatt’s Place and named after Sir James Amyatt who owned the land.

He writes: “Amyatt was born in 1734 and the terrace was built in about 1812 shortly before his death in 1813.”

Born in Totnes, where his father was mayor, Amyatt traded with the East India Company for 20 years and elected MP for Totnes from 1774 to 1780, then for Southampton.

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His brother Peter met a tragic end, being murdered on returning from an unsuccessful peace mission to Mir Kasim, the Nawab of Bengal.

“There is,” writes Brian, “a legend that Amyatts Terrace was built to hide the churchyard from Fort House (now Kennaway House). If so, it must have been on behalf of Amyatt’s older daughter Harriet and her husband Thomas Phillipps, for whom Fort House was built in about 1805.”

Old Fore Street used to be known as Back Street until the early 20th century, and, says Brian, was also sometimes known as Post Office Street as the post office used to be in part of Fields.

“A lease of 1805 refers to a house in Bark Street, close to the Market, suggesting that Back Street is a later corruption of the name.

“Bark Street is probably derived from ‘barking’, the practice of tanning fishing nets with tree bark, which may have been carried out in the area around Lakes Court.”

Greenway Lane, Higher Greenway, takes its name from the ancient Green Way trackways that are no longer used as main thoroughfares.

While Greenway Lane is now tarred, Higher Greenway “remains a track running above the Bulverton Road and used by farmers to access their fields.”

There are many Sid Valley road names to read about in Brian’s fascinating booklet, which is available to buy, priced �4.95, from Sidmouth Information Centre and Sidmouth Town Council.