Strang Stee? It's such a strange one to our town

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CONTROVERSY rumbled on this week over the re-naming of a Clitheroe town centre street.

Street signs reading "Strang Stee" had local folk scratching their heads when they appeared on the steep cobbled street linking Moor Lane with Lowergate and running down by the side of the United Reformed Church.

As reported in last week's Clitheroe Advertiser and Times, the signs are part of a project by town centre regeneration group Clitheroe the Future, which aims to standardise street name signs throughout the centre.

It will mean replacing around 50 signs with new and attractive ones, while others will be refurbished. But the project threw up two town centre streets which appeared to have no formal name – the one linking Moor Lane with Lowergate and another steep cobbled alley linking Church Street with York Street, next to the St Mary's Centre.

Extensive research at Clitheroe Library resulted in them being named "Strang Stee" and "Paradise Lane", as they were the only names that appeared on old maps of the town.

"Strang Stee" is old English for "strong ladder" or "strong stairway", which seems to fit with the steep climb up to the castle gates. However, several locals have put forward rival street names, the strongest contender being "Old Hall Brow"

Mr James Devaney wrote: "I feel I must tell you as an Old Clitheronian that for 120 or more years, Old Hall Brow was the name. When I was a lad I walked down it to school and so did my father, who would be 130 if here today."

Commenting on the choice of Strang Stee, Mr Devaney added: "I've never heard of such a claptrap name!"

His sentiments were echoed by Mr John Turner, whose father Richard was the last Mayor of the old Clitheroe Borough Council, from 1972 to 1974, and one-time champion shoe repairer of All England.

The family's shoe repair business was started in 1910 by John's grandfather in Moor Lane, at the foot of the controversial street. According to John, all three generations of his family knew it as Old Hall Brow and he dismissed "Strang Stee" as a load of old cobblers!

As reported last week, another long-time Clitheroe resident said the alley was known coloquially as "Howard's Entry", since it was the side entrance to Howard's Butchers, now the Age Concern shop in Moor Lane. Another reader said she and her family had always known it simply as "The Ginnel".

The official signing of "Paradise Lane" seems to be less controversial, perhaps because its name is more conventional. Local historian Bob Jones furnished us with extensive research, dating the name from at least 1881, when it appeared in print in the St Mary's Church Magazine.

Mr Jones added that in early Victorian times the lane was enclosed on either side by extensive gardens, as shown on the first Ordnance Survey map of Clitheroe in the 1840s. It was not uncommon for routes through such attractive parts of otherwise grimy mill towns to be called "Paradise Lane", or "Paradise Street", and several examples can be found in other Lancashire towns.

Finally, reader Mrs Jean Hartley, of Chatburn Road, came up with another candidate for official naming – the lane running alongside her bungalow, linking Chatburn Road with Tower Hill. Although it has no street sign, Mrs Hartley said it was always called Cow Lane, because it was the route for the cows going to be milked at Tower Hill Farm.