Strat­ford goes full-on Shake­speare

Stratford Press - - News - By BRYAN VICK­ERY

I am a Shake­speare afi­cionado.

On oc­ca­sions I have been known to an­noy and un­der­whelm my friends with my knowl­edge of the Bard. Re­cently I drove my Cam­bridge (NZ) friends around Strat­ford. They com­mented ap­prov­ingly on how the streets were named after Shake­speare char­ac­ters. Cam­bridge has named many of its streets after fa­mous English writ­ers, but it’s not town wide, and many of the writ­ers are un­fa­mil­iar to the av­er­age per­son.

Ac­cord­ing to David Wal­ter, we can thank Charles Whit­combe, the chair­man of the Taranaki Waste Board, for our Shake­speare-themed streets. In 1878 he de­creed that all streets were to be named from the works of Shake­speare. But it was William Cromp­ton (the edi­tor of the Taranaki Her­ald from 1852 and the speaker of the Taranaki Provin­cial Coun­cil for 14 years) who was be­hind nam­ing Strat­ford’s first Shake­speare streets.

Strat­ford upon Pa¯ tea is the only Strat­ford in the world to name its streets after Shake­spearean char­ac­ters. Strat­ford District Coun­cil must be con­grat­u­lated for con­tin­u­ing this tra­di­tion.

There were 67 streets named after Shake­spearean char­ac­ters in 2012 and there’s cur­rently a com­pe­ti­tion to name four new roads as part of a new sub­di­vi­sion off Pem­broke Rd. This will take the to­tal to 71, but it could eas­ily be 79. Ham­let and Por­tia streets are dis­sected twice — Ham­let street is blocked by Strat­ford Pri­mary School and the Pa¯ tea River while Por­tia St is di­vided by the river and the old hos­pi­tal grounds. Mi­randa, Or­lando, Ariel and Cordelia streets are also di­vided by the Pa¯ tea River.

I asked David Wal­ter why other Shake­speare names were not given to these dis­sected streets, given there’s no short­age of char­ac­ters. He sug­gested I raise the mat­ter with the found­ing fa­thers. Some sug­gest they may have an­tic­i­pated build­ing bridges, but the cost was pro­hib­i­tive.

David Wal­ter laughed when I shared how it took me ages to visit some­one in Por­tia St near War­wick Rd be­cause I started from the Pem­broke Rd end. And I had the re­verse prob­lem when try­ing to visit some­one in Ham­let St who lived near the Pem­broke Rd end. David Wal­ter sug­gested I use GPS. He said re­nam­ing the di­vided streets would be costly and an un­nec­es­sary in­con­ve­nience.

But he did agree with me that more busi­nesses on Broad­way should have Shake­speare dis­plays. And why not sell Shake­speare trin­kets from tea tow­els to pens and spoons? Not hav­ing these dis­plays is a lost op­por­tu­nity to stop pass­ing mo­torists — plus it un­in­ten­tion­ally un­der­mines the Shake­spearean brand for Strat­ford. The TSB Bank’s Shake­spearean wall (in­side) is stun­ning, but it can’t been seen by pass­ing mo­torists and pedes­tri­ans. In my opin­ion, Strat­ford des­per­ately needs Shake­speare-themed mu­rals to com­ple­ment the Glock­en­spiel, Shake­speare’s statue in front of the li­brary, and the en­trance signs, which fea­ture the great play­wright with his quill. We should em­u­late Mata­mata who en­thu­si­as­ti­cally re­branded as Hob­biton. Given the phe­nom­e­nal pop­u­lar­ity of the Pop Up Globe (in Auck­land) it makes com­pelling sense to rekin­dle our en­thu­si­asm for our Shake­speare brand.

● Bryan presents the Hokonui Break­fast Show ev­ery week­day morn­ing. Lis­ten to Hokonui in Strat­ford on 88.2FM and catch Ilona Hanne be­ing in­ter­viewed by Bryan Vick­ery ev­ery Mon­day and Wed­nes­day at 8.05am.

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