15 December 2022

Names and sculptures in
Stony Stratford with
stories from the past

A series of sculptures represent the work of Edward Hayes in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

Walking regularly between Stony Stratford and Galley Hill these days can be somewhat treacherous, with packed snow that is only half-thawed, and hidden patches of ice underneath.

A slower pace and more alert eyes means I am paying a little more careful to everything around me, and has even left me wondering about some of the place names in the housing around here.

Galley Hill takes its name from the gallows that once stood here, while places like Bunsty Court keep alive mediaeval placenames that might otherwise have been forgotten in 20th century housing developments.

But two names have caught my attention in recent days, following my return from that quick visit to Dublin that turned out to be quite an escapade.

Could The Carne have any possible associations in its name with Carne in Co Wexford, near Lady’s Island halfway between Rosslare, where I lived briefly, and Carnsore Point, on the very south-east tip of Co Wexford, where in the late 1970s and early 1980s I was involved in sit-in protests on the site of a proposed nuclear power plant?

Indeed, could the Hayes have any links with the many families in Co Wexford with the name Hayes?

My thoughts were nothing more than mere flights of fancy.

Local historians say The Carne in Stony Stratford takes its name from Christopher Carne, a smallholder and innkeeper at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Carne was one of three renowned protesters who led a revolt against land enclosures by Henry Longueville in the second half of the 16th century. An appeal to the Lord Chancellor in 1584 succeeded and Carne was considered a local hero.

Queen Elizabeth I granted to Christopher Carne and his wife Ann a messuage called the White House with a piece of land near the Barley Mow Inn which was close to the river. The Carnes held the land until 1604.

As for Hayes, beside York House, it takes its name from Edward Hayes, who founded the Watling Works on that site in 1854.

Hayes (1818-1877) was born in Manchester and served his apprenticeship there before moving to Wolverton in the early 1840s, to work with the London & Birmingham Railway Works at Wolverton.

Initially, his works in Stony Stratford produced agricultural machinery, but Hayes and his son, also Edward Hayes, moved into marine engineering, and they built over 100 boats between the late 1860s and 1925.

The boats built in Stony Stratford included steam yachts, tugs and launches, built for both national and international customers.

A series of sculptures represent the work of Edward Hayes.

Of course, there was an Irish connection there too: Sir Ernest Rebbeck, chairman of Harland and Wolff in Belfast at the time the Titanic was built, was once an apprentice at the Watling Works.

However, I have uncovered Irish links in other placenames in Stony Stratford, including Augustus Road, Egmont Avenue and (albeit remotely) Latimer. But more about these placenames in the days to come, I hope.

The Carne in Stony Stratford has links with protests but not with Carne and Carnsore Point in Co Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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