“History is written by the victors“. So goes the saying attributed to Winston Churchill sometime during his reign as British Prime Minister. I’d like to offer up a corollary to that saying, which is “History is also written by the man from the council with a tin of white paint“.
I should explain.
I live in what used to be the rather grandly named Municipal Borough of Twickenham. Used to be. Twickenham as a borough was created in 1926 out of the 1868 Twickenham Local Government District. In 1934 the new borough absorbed the nearby urban districts of Hampton, Hampton Wick and Teddington. But when Greater London was created in 1965, Twickenham Borough vanished overnight, becoming part of the new London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames.
But traces of the old borough still exist, if you keep your eyes open. Almost all of the old street signs still exist, with the old Borough of Twickenham wording carefully painted out, by the man from the council with a tin of council issued standard white paint. Almost 45 years later, those same street signs are still there, but they’re starting to show their age and the paint is peeling in places, peeling back the years as an added bonus.
The Borough of Twickenham wasn’t the only thing to vanish overnight in 1965, so did the County of Middlesex, of which Twickenham was a part. Middlesex however lives on, both as an informal name and as a postal county and again, traces of the lost county still exist, if you know where to look.