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EDITIONS
Friday, 29 June, 2001, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
Newtown, new name
Too many Newtowns
The residents of Newtown in Powys are fed up sharing the name with more than 100 other places in the UK. But how to change it? BBC News Online's Ryan Dilley reports.

After 722 years, the people of Newtown have tired of the name given their settlement in rural Wales.

When King Edward granted Baron Roger De Montgomery a charter to hold a Tuesday market on the site, it must have seemed like a terrific wheeze to dub the new town, wait for it, Newtown.

Changing the name would certainly help identify the town and my mail would not be sent to Newport

Bob Davey, local councillor
The joke's worn thin for the 11,500 modern day Newtonese.

A recent survey found most were in favour of scrapping the name completely or adding a classy suffix to differentiate their town from the 100 or so others scattered around the UK.

"Newtown-on-Severn", "Newtown-upon-Severn" and the more radical "Drenewydd" have all be suggested.

Local councillor Bob Davey certainly supports the idea. "Changing the name would certainly help identify the town and my mail would not be sent to Newport."

Confound and confuse

Though Mr Davey's gripe should be directed more at the literacy skills of sorting office workers than his own town's name, changing its moniker can be a boon for a town.

Where would Llanfairpwllgwyngyll be today if its villagers hadn't taken the plunge? Well, geographically it's in the same place (Anglesey), but as Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll Llantysiliogogogoch the village is also in the record books.

The longest place name in the UK was cooked up to encourage 19th Century tourists to pay it a visit, although one story has it that a local tailor devised the tortuous 58-word title to mock English visitors who had had trouble enough pronouncing the original name.

Another town hoping to put itself on tourist map was Hot Springs, New Mexico. Hot Springs was keen to market itself as a spa resort with ... hot springs.

It's only a gameshow...

Despite being the favourite soaking tub of famous "Red Indian" Geronimo, the idea of holidaying in Hot Springs never quite caught on.

Big Brother 2000 gameshow
Bow is unlikely to adopt the name Bigbrothersville
In 1949, the city fathers heard a TV producer was hunting for a town willing to name itself after his popular game show. Keen not to be beaten to the draw, Hot Springs threw its ten-gallon hat into the ring. As it turned out, it was the only hat.

Truth or Consequences certainly attracts more than its share of attention, though most visitors marvel at how the locals can live with a name that sounds like somewhere from an eerie David Lynch film.

Some locals still resent the change. "It could've been any damn TV show and they'd a gone for it. Right now, we could be Queen for a Day, New Mexico."

Mirror image

The people of Millsville, Ohio, clearly had in mind the adage "keep it simple, stupid" when they decided to honour two of their citizens.

Twins
Next stop, Twinsberg
In the early 1800s, identical twin brothers Aaron and Moses Wilcox donated six acres of land toward a town square and $20 for the first school.

They were rewarded when locals opted to call the town Twinsburg.

Fittingly, Twinsburg now hosts an annual twins festival, which regularly attracts 3,000 sets of multiples.

The British have gone

Name changes aren't always made to honour former residents. Occasionally townsfolk want to draw a veil over the past.

The town formerly known as Newtown Sandes
Colonial overtones are being expunged
Newtownsandes on Ireland's Kerry-Limerick border has been trying for the best part of a century to rid itself of the memory of George Sandes.

Sandes was put in charge of Moyvane by the British in the late 1600s. As lord he certainly lorded it up, reputedly exercising his droit de seigneur rights to bed local girls on their wedding night.

"Newtowndillion" (after an MP who supported the change) and "Newtownclarke" (after a hero of the 1916 Rising) were never successfully adopted.

A recent ballot to kill off Newtownsandes forever surprisingly failed to win the necessary 435 votes.

Though this may not bode well for the Newtown (Powys, that is) bid to forge a new identity, Mr Davey need not lose sleep over his mail crossing the Irish Sea.

Newtownsandes' post office has long since gone back to using the old name, Moyvane.

See also:

24 Jul 00 | Africa
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