Land’s End gets apostrophe after decades of confusion

Land’s End will officially have an apostrophe, after councillors debated its punctuation change in a 90-minute discussion.

The proposal was made during a council meeting debating electoral boundaries, which will shrink the council from 123 to 87 members.

As the councillors worked to rename the new boundaries, the contentious issue of whether Land’s End should or should not be punctuated was debated among current members.

Councillor Sue James, a Liberal Democrat, said she had spoken with local archaeologist Craig Weatherhill, who said there ought to be an apostrophe before the s.

However the chairman of the council’s electoral review panel told Sky News it was unlikely to make any difference to road names or signs, because their decision was linked to electoral divisions.

Malcolm Brown added: “There is uncertainty on whether there should be an apostrophe or not. We got advice from one of our local people who is an expert and he said yes, so that was good enough for us.

“I suspect if you came down in a few years’ time you would see some signs with and others without. But we think we have got it right.”

Louisa Keyworth, publishing manager for mapmakers Lovell Johns, told Sky News: “Our maps already use an apostrophe for Land’s End.

“But other place name changes have affected us, like Staines-on-Thames and Royal Wootton Bassett.

“We make the updates straight away to our maps, but we wouldn’t scrap any in print because of an apostrophe.”

Cornwall County Council said the discussion surrounded the naming of a new electoral division which would be introduced once the new boundaries were brought in.

In a statement, the council said: “During the meeting, councillors took a series of votes on proposed new boundaries and division names across Cornwall, and when the issue of the apostrophe in Land’s End was briefly mentioned, advice was referred to from a local historian, who said the place is properly styled ‘Land’s End’.

“The council is satisfied that it should therefore propose to name its electoral division Land’s End.”

The council added it also discussed ways to reduce low pay in the county, a proposal to merge Devon and Cornwall and Dorset police forces and plans to create a “Devonwall” parliamentary constituency.

It is not the first time apostrophes have caused such controversy. In 2014, then local government minister Eric Pickles criticised Cambridge City Council’s decision to axe the punctuation mark from its street names.

The council ended the great apostrophe debate by reversing the decision to get rid of the punctuation.

In 2009, Birmingham City Council ruled it would not start putting apostrophes back into place names, after they started disappearing in the 1950s, despite residents asking for them to return.

In the US, a board established in 1890 has the final say on the naming of geographical areas, and has only allowed five places to use the possessive apostrophe.

Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts, and Ike’s Point in New Jersey, are two of those allowed to officially use the apostrophe.

In London, Earl’s Court tube station has the apostrophe, but the now-closed exhibition centre do not. The area was once owned by the earls of Oxford.

But Barons Court does not have the mark, as the region’s name is made up and was never owned by royalty.

Sky News



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