WITH its rows of tiny houses bleached by the sea, Bideford in North Devon has been long been known as ‘The Little White Town’, a description that adorns all its signs. But now this affectionate sobriquet is under threat. Complaints it could be seen as a ‘racist slur’ and fears that ‘the town council could be classed as a racist white supremacist’ had the Conservative-led authority in a tizz.
Never mind that this byname originated in Charles Kingsley’s swashbuckling 1855 novel, Westward Ho!, in which he described ‘the little white town of Bideford, which slopes upwards from its broad tide-river paved with yellow sands, and many-arched old bridge where salmon wait for autumn floods, toward the pleasant upland on the west’, the council voted to remove the tagline altogether. After some protest at this ‘political correctness gone mad’ it was agreed that every signpost will now read: ‘Charles Kingsley’s Little White Town (1855)’.
A sensible compromise or surrender to lunacy? Discuss.