Country road called 'Darkey Lane' could be renamed after two complaints


Darkey Lane is a quiant tree-lined road in Lifton, Devon, just off the A30. It is believed it was given the name as the old English spelling of “dark” because it was developed as a sunken lane, covered in darkness because of the trees on each side of the road.

Now households may have to each fork out £40 to get the name changed – because two people have taken offence to it.

West Devon Borough Council (WDBC) will hold a consultation to decide whether a new moniker must be devised.

Lifton Parish Council has written a letter to those that live on the road, where the average house price exceeds £320,000, which states the two visitors were “shocked and extremely upset”.

It adds: “I have been asked to write to you on behalf of Lifton Parish Council following receipt of a complaint about the street name Darkey Lane made by two visitors to the village.

“The visitors, one of who is of Caribbean heritage, were shocked and extremely upset having been confronted with a name like this.

“Councillors took the decision at a parish council meeting on November 25, 2021, to undertake a public consultation with you in early January 2022, to find out if you would like to keep or change the existing road name.”

Two-thirds of households on Darkey Lane would have to be in agreement for the name change, Devon Live reports.

The £40 payments will be used to pay for replacement road signs.

Householders would also be required to inform utility companies and all professional and personal contacts regarding any new road name.

The letter also gave some historical context into how the road was given its name.

It said: “Darkey Lane was a historic, locally-based road name given before development in the local area.

“The road had originally been a sunken and tree-lined dark lane.

“Over the years and with the use of local Devonshire dialect, it became known as Darkey Lane.”

Robert Fleming, owner of Lifton Hall Hotel on the road, has backed the potential name change.

He said: “I agree that the name should be changed. I think historically that the lane may have been called Darke Lane in the old English spelling, as indeed the lane is very dark and tree covered in places.

“The fact that the word ‘darkey’ has negative connotations, and has and continues to be used as such, supersedes historical spellings where they may have had a different meaning.

“People may be offended so it should be changed as standard, with a minimum of fuss.

“Indeed as a hotelier in the area, we have had people actually mention their surprise at the name of the lane as it is quite close to us.

“When I moved here 15 years ago I remember being rather shocked at it as we had moved down from London and lived in a multi-racial area of East London. Lifton can not by any stretch of the imagination be classed as multi-racial.

“For people objecting to the change, I think if they could imagine themselves as being in a minority of some sort and then have a derogatory work on a street name that affected/ upset them it may garner a different response.

“The name could be just Darke Lane or even Dark Lane which is minimal effort. In this advanced age we live in it should be a simple matter to change all the databases etc, although people may decide to live with it as it means changing passport/ drivers licences and so on which obviously will incur some costs.”

Lifton Parish Council told Devon Live the results of the consultation will be reported at its next meeting on January 27.


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