No sign of the apostrophe in Welwyn Hatfield

WHATS wrong with the sentence that youre currently reading?* If the answer isn t immediately obvious, then you re clearly not one of those people currently applauding the work of one Stefan Gatward, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, who has recently made nati

WHATS wrong with the sentence that youre currently reading?*

If the answer isn't immediately obvious, then you're clearly not one of those people currently applauding the work of one Stefan Gatward, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, who has recently made national news for painting the missing apostrophes onto street signs in his town.

Mr Gatward decided he could no longer live in a road called St Johns Close, so he changed it, correctly, to St John's Close.

To some, his campaign is nothing more than vandalism, but to others, he is a modern day freedom fighter, standing up against the powers that be in the fight to save correct grammar.


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Whatever your view, few would deny that, with the advent of short message services like texting and Twitter, where letters are at a premium, correct punctuation is dying out.

But why should road names, such as Bishops Rise, Dancers Hill Close and St Lukes Close in Times Territory be exempt?

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Welwyn Hatfield Council, which is responsible for road naming, has historically always omitted the use of apostrophes in road names - to avoid confusing residents.

A council officer, who did not want to be named, told the Welwyn & Hatfield Times: "In the interests of best practice, we're not to use apostrophes in road names because it gives rise to confusion.

"Some people might not have difficulty with apostrophes, but this way everybody can understand road names."

Meanwhile, Mr Gatward has been criticised by some neighbours for what they view as tantamount to vandalism.

One apparently argued that the illicit corrections meant the post office would no longer deliver to their unofficially renamed street.

The Welwyn & Hatfield Times asked both Royal Mail and the control at Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue whether or not the humble apostrophe made such a dramatic difference to the services they strive to provide.

Both said no.

For more on Welwyn Hatfield's missing apostrophes, plus a guide on how to use them properly, see this week's Welwyn & Hatfield Times.

*There are two missing apostrophes: in "What's" (what is) and "you're" (you are).

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