I AM occasionally asked the derivation of a local street name.

A useful source of information is Robert Murray Smith’s ‘History of Greenock’, published in 1921.

It advises that there was a time when few local streets were given a name. When the Cartsdyke area had only one thoroughfare it was originally known simply as The Street.

In August 1775 the Town Council of Greenock decreed ‘it is necessary that the streets have names to distinguish them’.

This prompted the application of many long standing names.

Linked with Royalty, these include George Square named for George III and previously called Kilblain Square, Regent (after George IV, the first Prince Regent) and Clarence Street.

Names connected with local landowners take in Ardgowan, Blackhall, Carnock, Dalrymple, Houston, Margaret, Nicolson, Shaw, Sir Michael and Stewart. Dalrymple relates to Margaret Dalrymple Lady Shaw, and Margaret to Margaret Stewart who married Sir William Maxwell of Springkell, which also explains why Greenock has a street of this name.

I have previously mentioned that Bogle Street got its name from Robert Bogle, a Glasgow merchant who married Agnes, the daughter of Sir Archibald Stewart of Blackhall. The creation of the Morrisons superstore led to the disappearance of the main part of Bogle Street running towards the Clyde, but a small section remains on the other side of the railway.

Streets called after dukes, military heroes and other notable figures include Argyle, Bedford, Brisbane, Lynedoch, Nelson, Newton and Wellington. Landowners used to raise revenue by issuing feus to those wishing to build properties on part of their grounds. Streets named after the first feuars in various areas of Greenock include Ann, Bearhope, Campbell, Crawfurd, Dempster, Duncan, Forsyth, Holmscroft (referred to by Murray as Home’s Croft), Johnston (Murray gives the spelling as Johnstone), Ker, Laird and Robertson.

Murray tells us that Bearhope Street — pronounced Birrup — got its name from Ann Bearhope, although he does not indicate if she was also connected with the nearby Ann Street. It is also interesting to learn from Murray that Roxburgh Street was originally known as Alexander Street, South Street had previously been Ford Road and Bentinck Street was Martha Brae until 1850.

The site of Morrisons covers what was Chapel Street, which ran parallel to the railway line. It had earlier been known as Pond Park Street.

Murray also informs readers that what we now know as Stanners Lane was originally called the Stanners or Stenners, and led from the river up to a mansion house.

Murray’s ‘History of Greenock’ gives another example of a name changing over the years, with the Dellingburn also having been called Dailing and Da Ling.