A local radio station contacted the Society last year to ask if there were any interesting stories behind the names of Sandbach streets. Sandbach street names seemed an interesting topic to research and I am currently building up a database. Examining up-to-date maps of the area (Sandbach, Elworth, Sandbach Heath and Wheelock) I have, so far, recorded 388 names.
Streets were given names over a long period, starting in the Middle Ages. Early street names might refer to the place of a market; a nearby tree or river; a geographical feature; the location of a tradesman; the name of a distinguished individual or a town to which the road might lead.
Sandbach has all these categories represented. For example the place of a market is indicated by Market Square but also inferred in High Street/Hightown. Geographical features figure in names such as Fields Drive, Sandy Lane; evidence of tradesmen can be found in Foundry Lane and Mill Lane. There are 32 street names indicating the location of important places, like Church Street and Station Road, and over 40 distinguished individuals are named. Foden’s is well represented with no fewer than 16 street names with Foden connections.
Sandbach Heath has a monopoly of streets named after tress and Elworth has most of the streets named after birds. In Ettiley Heath there is an estate given over to streets with literary connections.
It is interesting to examine the names given to the streets on the new housing developments. On the estate off Old Mill Road can be found the names of butterflies, as well as a reference to the former waterworks. The estates off Middlewich Road (Abbeyfields, etc.) have mainly rural names as well as a reference to a former holder of the Manor of Sandbach.
In Wheelock can be found street names with canal connections and those streets named after people commemorate those named on the war memorial. There are more names of an agricultural origin on the estate off Congleton Road but also a reference to the Skirmish of 1615 with Pipers Hollow.
Of the 10 most popular street names in England, (High Street being the most popular) Sandbach has 6.
Although Cheshire East Council has a department dealing with street names – putting them out for consultation after submission by builders/developers – it seems that they do not keep a record of the reasons given for the proposed names. It seems a pity to lose the background to something which is an important part of local identity and in my database I am attempting to rectify that situation by recording likely reasons for the naming of each street.