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Secrecy Over ‘Guildford-on-the-Wey’ Name Change Justified as ‘Commercial-in-Confidence’

Published on: 1 Apr, 2023
Updated on: 31 Mar, 2023

How the Welcome to Guildford signs might look after the name change. Image: Gordan Canti

An under-wraps decision to change the name of Guildford has been approved, a senior source has informed The Guildford Dragon NEWS.

Guildford, the first written mention of which was in the will of Alfred the Great, will soon be known officially as “Guildford-on-the-Wey” if final approval is given.

Secrecy has been justified because contract negotiations for the signage work are still under way. Even most councillors have been kept in the dark, our source told us.

It is hoped that the new name will modernise the image of Guildford and underline the council’s ambition to make positive changes. And it is expected that the change will support Guildford’s long-standing aspiration to be granted city status with “letters patent” from the King.

The town of Staines wished to distance itself from Ali G by changing its name to Staines-upon-Thames

The idea is not without precedent. In order to promote the Staines “riverside image” and to distance it from its association with the fictional character, Ali G, Spelthorne Borough Council voted in December 2011 to change its name from “Staines” to “Staines-upon-Thames”.

The Guildford name change was originally touted in early April 2020, but was overtaken by the pandemic. It is hoped that the clever play on words portraying forward-looking positivity, will be welcomed as an advantageous branding exercise intended to further boost the town’s economic credentials and telegraph it as a hub of growth and prosperity.

But not everyone is happy, one councillor we approached said: “This is the first I have heard of it. It’s not just the name change, it’s the secrecy. Only a few at the top know what’s going on. The rest of us are truly mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed a diet of… well you know what!”

The lack of any public consultation is likely to prove controversial, although the same councillor said: “I don’t think that will be an obstacle. Look what has happened on previous occasions.”

The Dragon has asked how much the change has been estimated to cost, and when will it be on the agenda of a public meeting?

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Responses to Secrecy Over ‘Guildford-on-the-Wey’ Name Change Justified as ‘Commercial-in-Confidence’

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 12:56 am

    Does the council have a public agreed budget for such an expense? A million or so!

  2. Dave Fielding Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 6:32 am

    I understand that as the signage company was charging by the letter, in order to save money, the leadership group has agreed a shorter name, G Spot.

  3. Joss Bigmore Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 6:54 am

    Nice try!

  4. Steve Grove Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 8:30 am

    Happy April Fool’s Day.
    Mind you, how this council keeps things to themselves, with little or no consultation, it wouldn’t surprise me.
    Any way, keep on smiling.

  5. Ramsey Nagaty Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 10:13 am

    I see developers in The Horsleys and Wisley are encouraging modal shift from cars and offering a free boat with every home purchased.

  6. Harry Eve Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 11:38 am

    I believe this was actually consulted on. A carefully selected group was chosen and given a few questions that led the way to this solution.

    Nevertheless, one respondent suggested Guildford-in-the-Wey to reflect the historic flooding while another came up with Guildford-in-the-Way as an expression of anger towards the 2019 Local Plan that sought unsustainable development despite the climate change and biodiversity crises.

  7. John Lomas Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 1:25 pm

    They could save a quarter of the cost by removing 1 of the 4 words. Use Guildford on Wey instead.

  8. Penny Panman Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 2:13 pm

    Ha ha! Excellent April Fool!

  9. Gavin Morgan Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 2:15 pm

    Looking back at the archives, I discovered at debate in the 1970s about a similar proposal to change Guildford’s name soon after the notorious one way system opened. At that time they were thinking of calling the town “Guildford lost on the Wey”

  10. David Roberts Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 3:39 pm

    A laughable and money-wasting rebranding, like the city status farrago. As far as I know, location suffixes generally exist only to distinguish towns from those with the same names elsewhere, e.g. Stratford-upon-Avon.

    I believe Staines is the only exception, justified by its horrible name (as mocked by Thackeray long ago in the odious character of Lord Staines in ‘Vanity Fair’).

    I propose that Horsley is twinned with Bakhmut, since after recent flooding there is today only one road in and out.

  11. Dylan Thomas Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 4:39 pm

    Is this an April fool joke?

  12. Keith Parkins Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 4:59 pm

    April First

  13. Steve Knight Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 6:08 pm

    A good April fools day article!

  14. Michael Brown Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 6:19 pm

    Surely a good April Fool’s Day joke

    If not, Where is Guildford “on the Wey” towards?

    More consultants’ fees beyond £14 million apparently spent over two years? More council taxpayers’ money spent on top of £5 million on “Shaping Guildford’s Future ” where consultation seems tailored to the “in crowd”. Perhaps little wonder that Cllr Rooth resigned from R4GV who seem to control council spending.

    If true, smacks of “commercial incompetence”, not confidence- and certainly no consultation by the powers that be, with even councillors, let alone residents

  15. Sue Harvey Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 6:51 pm


  16. Mark Insoll Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 8:11 pm

    Given how few people seem to enunciate the D in Guildford, couldn’t that letter be dropped? And the U isn’t doing much either.

  17. Liz Critchfield Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 8:51 pm


  18. Donna Collinson Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 11:13 pm

    Far canal, Guildford-on-the-Wey!

  19. Simon Masom Reply

    April 1, 2023 at 11:43 pm

    Great idea and maybe they should plant some of those spaghetti trees along the riverside to really spruce things up.

  20. Sam Godfrey Reply

    April 3, 2023 at 6:51 am

    Why oh why?

    I’d be pretty sure the majority of Guildford wouldn’t be happy about this name change. It’s ridiculous. Why fix something that isn’t broken?

    Guildford is historic and shouldn’t be renamed at all.

  21. Julian Lyon Reply

    April 3, 2023 at 7:41 am

    Happy ‘Spaghetti-grows-on-trees’ day!

  22. Barbara Ford Reply

    April 3, 2023 at 2:25 pm

    I took this at face value, and wrote to the borough council. Doh! April Fool! (I can see now that Cllr Nagaty didn’t fall for it…)

  23. Albert Ross Reply

    April 3, 2023 at 4:27 pm

    Published on 1st April, please tell us this was an April Fool joke …..

  24. Harry Eve Reply

    April 3, 2023 at 9:41 pm

    More suggestions have been flooding in. Old Guildford-in-Turmoil was favoured by several of the more miserable respondents. Guildford-in-Navigation was a bit contrived but it was thought it would be a welcome tonic for the town.

  25. Dave Fielding Reply

    April 4, 2023 at 6:06 pm

    I’m thinking of selling my house. Can we rename our locale as Belgravia?

    Editor’s response: only on next April 1.

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