I wrote the following which appeared in the Evening Gazette's 'More or Bore' column tonight:
MY wife Glynis and I hosted a meeting of the Association of British Counties (ABC) in Redcar recently. We wondered what a town still waiting for its promised regeneration had to offer visitors on a blustery cold Saturday in October.
The Committee usually meets twice per year in Warwickshire or Cheshire and holding it in the far northeast corner of the North Riding of Yorkshire meant a much longer journey for many members. But we needn’t have worried. It was the "stunning" scenery around the town that people mentioned when they arrived at the Nine 0 Club in West Dyke Road.
Fuelled by Glynis’s piping hot homemade soup, a number of members just had to walk down and have a look at the sea during the lunch break.
A digitised map of the historic counties has been produced and can be downloaded www.county-borders.co.uk in Google Earth (KMZ) format and Arcview Shape (SHP) format.
It is fascinating looking at this on Google Earth, where a thin red line shows the county borders. Looking at where the Yorkshire/Lancashire border cuts through Todmorden Cricket Ground I am sure that you can make out the ‘scorch’ marks in the earth where the original hedge or ditch marking the boundary used to be.
By far the most interesting discussion at our meeting was about county flags. Members discussed how they could encourage each of England’s 39 historic counties to register county flags. Many have already done so and some have established designs. But how do you decide what the design should be and who should set the ball rolling? The Flag Institute will only register real counties, not regions, sub regions or administrative areas.
The Lincolnshire flag was chosen by listeners to BBC Radio Lincolnshire. The Westmorland flag has a white background with an apple tree design in the middle and two red bars across the centre but who is the appropriate body to register it? This was a problem that ABC agonised over at its meeting in Redcar.
We had learned at the previous meeting, in Coventry, that the Friends of Real Lancashire had tried to register the traditional red rose on a white background flag of the County Palatine but were turned down by the Flag Institute because a flag of that design had already been registered by Montrose. They had to settle for a red rose on a yellow background design.
First thing the following Monday morning the Yorkshire Ridings Society (YRS) contacted the Flag Institute. They accepted that the YRS was an appropriate organisation and that the white rose on a blue background flag was in general use in Yorkshire and beyond.
There followed an official ceremony in Hull just before Yorkshire Day involving the Lord Mayor. In early January 2009 the YRS is handing over the Yorkshire flag to the Lord Mayor of York at a ceremony in the Guildhall where it will take its place alongside the Union Flag and the flag of St George.
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