Village road could be renamed after complaints it is racist

·2 min read
Darkey Lane
The road is situated in Lifton, Dorset. (Creative Commons/Mike Smith)

A narrow village street could be renamed amid complaints of racism from visitors to the area.

Darkey Lane in the Devon village of Lifton was originally given its name because it is a sunken, tree-lined dark lane.

Residents have now been contacted by the local parish council as part of a consultation process over the name.

The consultation comes after a complaint was made about the name, and involves asking locals if people want to keep the name or change it - at a cost of £40 per household.

Darkey Lane
The road was given its name because it is sunken and tree-lined. (Google Maps)

The council said two visitors to the area - one of whom is of Caribbean heritage - had been left "shocked and extremely upset" by the name.

Lifton Parish Council is now carrying out a consultation into the potential name-change but the final decision will lie with West Devon Borough Council (WDBC).

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In a letter dated 7 January, the council said: "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."

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The letter explained the historical context of the name, saying: "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."

For the road to be renamed, two-thirds of households on Darkey Lane would have to be in agreement and each household would also need to pay £40 for the change of name.

The parish council has offered to pay for replacement road signs.

The road is not the first to prompt concerns of racism with its name.

In 2021 a similar controversy arose over Darkie Lane in Swanage, Dorset - which was originally named for similar reasons in that it is dark and shady.

Swanage Council recommended that Dorset Council rename it to Dark Lane following a letter of complaint from a family who had visited the area, but the name change was shelved after a consultation with residents.

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