I was sad to see such prominence given to a one-man campaign to keep the name of Purfleet in the media last week. In his campaign Mr Simon Braybrooke-Gibbens writes in the plural – our and we, when it should have read in the singular I and we. Reference to some villagers have started a campaign urging people not to sign the petition is misleading, it is one person.
Purfleet-on-Thames Community Forum is one of the borough’s local forums who have worked exceedingly hard over the past number of years to help keep local residents informed on many local issues and matters; crime, highways, transport, health, planning, history and more. They have speakers at their bi-monthly meetings and the local councillors usually in attendance to answer questions on local issues directly.
Anybody who attends meetings, emails or phones can ask a question about anything local and the forum, who are volunteers who will do their best to get true and accurate answers to their question.
I am taking the name change forward on behalf members of the forum and the many people in the past who have asked for this to happen. To do this was a democratic decision that was taken at our November 2017 forum meeting. Being democratic the forum has on their website petition page a link to where people can sign to change the name. Directly underneath is a link where they can comment if they do not want the name changed, they can also do this by contacting the council directly if they wish.
The name of Purfleet will not be lost, it is part of our history. I am involved with Purfleet Heritage & Military Centre, as part of the forum I am involved in Purfleet’s centenary commemoration for the end of World War One in November and I have been carrying out research for the past couple of years on the history of Purfleet with the intention to get the history published. In doing so I will be correcting basic errors that have evolved and been passed on in the past, such as those Simon has used in his campaign:
In his article, Mr Braybrooke-Gibbens states “Purfleet was known by that name since 11th century”. The first reference Purfleet was 1285. The name then was Purteflyete. Since then there have been many name references Purflete, Pourteflete and Pourflete. First reference to Purfleet with its current spelling was about five hundred years ago, so a change to Purfleet-on-Thames is in keeping with previous name changes and keeps the name Purfleet.
Reference to Dracula and Purfleet will not be lost. There are no records of Bram Stoker coming to Purfleet, it is however fortunate that he chose the name to highlight the area. For many years there was a house called Carfax that was named after the house in the book, it was built about three years after the book was first published. In May this year the forum had as one of their speakers Ian Yearsley who wrote about Dracula and the Essex connection. Simon did not attend this meeting.
Anti-aircraft gunners shot down the German Zeppelin LZ15. It was L15, LZ15 was a zeppelin that was destroyed three years earlier.
‘Purfleet has never actually been called Purfleet-on-Thames it was merely a reference on a few postcards.’ It is true Purfleet has never been called Purfleet-on-Thames, this has never been suggested but it was known by that name in 19th and early 20th century. There are newspaper references, the name was referred to in a national census and there are many postcards bearing the name that came from different printers at different times. There are even postcards with Purfleet-on-Thames that were printed in Germany. These can be found in the archives at the Essex Record Office. It would be very strange to have all these references in the press and on post cards if the name was not used.
Simon states the forum have wanted the name change for 16 years. The forum has used the name on and off for many years. It was only last November that the forum actively went forward with the wishes of forum members to officially change the name.
Regarding costs of a name change if the council thought the benefit to the existing and future community would be outweighed by financial costs the name change will not happen. It is fortunate that the developers after seeing our campaign thought the name change such a good idea they rebranded their development Purfleet On Thames. New signage around the new development will be required anyway, so no additional costs there. Most existing signs will remain and will be replaced as required, so no additional costs there. The Post Office only have to be officially notified of a name change by the council, so no additional costs there. Maps will change as they are renewed, so no additional costs there. Local businesses can choose to update stationary etc. if they want to. It would be folly to say there would be no costs involved, but not as great as has been perceived. It is no secret that Thurrock Council are in partnership with the developers on Purfleet’s regeneration, as they own much of the land. Any financial advantage the name change bring will be of benefit to the borough as a whole and it will be for the council to decide.
To sign the petition or comment against it go to Purfleet-on-Thames.org/petition