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Adam Thomas
Adam Thomas - on a mission!

Avon: the name that refuses to die

Do people still think you live in Avon? Are you yourself confused as to whether Avon still exists? If you have this problem, if no one else can help, and you can't find the A-von Team, maybe you can hire - BBC Somerset Sound's Adam Thomas!

Ten years on from the scrapping of Avon, one man is campaigning to erase all evidence of the former county.

BBC Somerset Sound's Adam Thomas appeared on Inside Out West on Monday 9 January, 2006 at 7.30pm on BBC ONE to find out why Avon refuses to die.

audio Adam Thomas on Inside Out West >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

Just why does Avon live on in the name of many of our institutions and businesses?

Why do we still have the Avon Wildlife Trust, the Avon & Somerset Police, Avon Fire and Rescue, and dozens of other organisations?

Avon's coat of arms
The former Avon's coat of arms

Why is the word Avon still used as part of your address?

Adam finds all of this immensely irritating and is waging a one-man war on what he claims is the West's most-hated four-letter word.

Adam has set out to investigate, and gently (through negotiation and the power of song) tried to persuade these organisations to find an alternative name, which people like.

You can listen to Adam Thomas from 2 to 4pm every weekday, and from 7 to 10am every Saturday, on BBC Somerset Sound 1566AM, and live on this website.

last updated: 12/01/06
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Christopher Steel
Ref: the discussions about where the name Avon actually comes from. It is the celtic word for river. That's why so many rivers are named Avon. As for the "County" of Avon..good riddance.

Brian Billingham
I live in Weston-super-Mare in the County of Somerset. Not Avon, and not North Somerset. I work for North Somerset District Council and North Somerset is a District of Somerset on a County. I have managed to get all my regular correspondence changed to Somerset and anything coming in with Avon on goes back to the sender.I have had many many arguments with Royal Mail who are the main culprits and who still run their business as though this were the 20th Century. They say they do not use Counties, that's as maybe, but they won't delete Avon.Avon was a politically made county by the Conservatives, one of many reasons why I will never vote again for them.

scott williams
just looked on NHS website and hospitals in Bath and Bristol still use AVON as a county for their postal address. Tried to send email to tell them but error on their website

Pete, Yatton
Born in Avon in 1974 (about 6 months too late), I'm never sure whether to say I come from Bristol or Somerset (as clearly no-one knows where Avon was). It usually depends on whether I want to sound gritty and urban, or quaintly rural...!

Alan Patchitt
Avon is Sin? Having noticed that there are a lot of rivers in this country call the Avon, I was looking to find where the word originated from and stumbled across this passage on a Jewish web site. "10. Forgiving sin (noseh avon). This is the tenth Attribute of Mercy. If a person sins deliberately, knowing that something is wrong but doing it nevertheless because of desire, he can still repent. Through this attribute, God accepts his repentance and forgives his sin even though it was done on purpose." Does this mean that Avon means Sin?

Helena Gardner
It is so annoying when I am applying for freebies and the companies have decided that you *must* have a county in, and give you a drop down list, in which they have removed avon but not put in bristol, or north somerset!!!

mr tom
hahahahahahahahahaha agree fully

mark wellstead
am i the only one here who thinks: "WHO CARES?" it's only a county for god's sake!

Tony Stoneman
It was a rubbish County in the first place & I can't believe that people still use the name, I always try to feedback to websites that list it, of which their are many!!

John Sommer
Its good to see Avon gone, however the successor unitary authorities seem a little pointless at times. I much prefer them to Avon County, but they are the size of county districts and have their own councils and unitary authority status and are only considered parts of their original counties for ceremonial purposes. Surely the most sensible and economic approach in 95/96 would have been to reintegrate what is now North Somerset and BANES as redrawn districts of Somerset and Bath as a city borough. Equally, Kingswood (in South Glos) should have been added to Bristol C&C given that they are indistinguishable and the rest of what is now South Glos returned to the county Gloucestershire, hey presto, job done, Avon damage fixed. If the areas were reintegrated, then proposals such as a southern motorway around Bristol could be more easily coordinated by fewer authorities, more resources made available and more funding pooled. I dont, unlike some people, want to see the succession of regional governments, as mentioned by someone else, the counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire date back as far as the Anglo-Saxon period and Bristol as a county as far back as the 14th century. For hundreds of years these authorities did a good job in their original proportions, and I am sure they coud continue to do so if put back together properly. That would be a far better way of dealing with administrative fragmentation than the introduction of a disliked southwest reigonal government (It would be a kind of Avon repetition). On a slightly deviated note, above I said redrawn districts [of Somerset] as at present the existing Somerset Districts alone dont make much sense, I mean, Mendip District covers around 3/5 of the Mendip Hills which is what the name would suggest, and for some reason the greater Frome area and a large part of the Somerset Levels as far south as Street (I recon we need a proper, redrawn Mendip, Somerset Levels and East Somerset districts to be made from what is now Mendip and Sedgemoor) Rant over!

Yes, I get very annoyed when things come through the post saying Avon. It's not a place any more so don't use it!

Avon is first name...
Well, I hope that you are just trying to wipe out the name from businesses and instutions and not those of us aptly named...

I have just moved to Bristol and refuse to have Avon as part of my address. I insist that any company sending me mail to Avon remove the line before they can continue to communicate with me.

Ian Halsall
Avon was never a county in the true sense, it was just an organisation which delivered public services but used the term County Council which is where the confusion all began. I am the first to tell organisations who insist on addressing me as Bath, Avon to immediatly update their database and put Somerset on the envellope. However I do worry that now I live within the local government area of Bath and North East Somerset, people think we live in some "county" of the same name. It is not a county, it is a unitary authoritiy. The lord Liutenant of Somerset covers the whole of the County Council area of Somerset, North Somerset and B&NES, therefore we are Somerset, just as South Gloucestshire (don't forget they suffer the Avon problem too) are Gloucestershire proper. I wish those respective county councils would remove their sign posts though. Every time I drive over the Mendips, I am being told that I am being welcomed to Somerset when I have been there all along. Now the Avon river at least has a function in being the historical and traditional border, so lets allow certain organisations to use the name but remember we are and always have been a part of Somerset!

I agree, those of us living in Bath feel like we have no identity and want a proper county to be proud of

Peter Lewis
Avon is synonomous with all administrations which were completely without soul.

Adam Sykes
Bring Avon back officially, then as with all things crap, it will probably disappear of its own accord.

Mike Drew
If County Councils were being created from scratch then Avon would be one of th emost obvious to be created. It has natural borders to the North (Cotswolds) and South (Mendips). Most economic, cultural and leisure activities are carried out within the Avon Borders. Many functions which need a larger area than the Unitary Council areas fall naturally within the Avon boundaries. What other area would transport for example be planned?

Alan Veasey
Having seen the Inside Out program a couple of weeks ago, I though Adam Thomas would be delighted to know that the name of Avon Ambulance Service will cease to exist on 31st March 2006, after which it will become part of Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust, covering Avon (whoops), Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. In Wiltshire, Avon is often called 'CUBA', the County that Used to Be Avon - I thought you would like to know that.

Karen Herbert
Adam - you're not alone! I am corresponding with various organisations which insist that Avon still exists. Charities who send direct mailshots are great culprits. I'm not going to let things rest either!

Origins of Counties relate back so long that we should stick with the originality. Somerset begins back to as long as the 12th century. Just because Great Britain may not be politically correct in 20 years time does that mean we need to change the name? I think not along with many others! If any man can state a claim in correctness, It is Adam Thomas, good luck my friend!

Mary Cassell
Like Adam I'm incensed about the continued use of Avon as a county, when it ceased to exist 10 years ago. I live in South Gloucestershire, and I still have trouble with people referring to Avon as a County. Please can the powers that be and companies and institutions get rid of it. Avon is a river not a County.

In Comer
Having lived or worked in Bath for well over twenty years I consider myself a Local. I objected to the formation of Avon I object strongly to BANES and all othe semi county names South Glouscestershire, North Somerset, Mendip and so on. I strongly support the formation of Regional councils and the removal of Locaal Authorities and believe with modern communication and transport the smallest Authority should be at an old traditional County Council Level. Just think of the cost savings, how many Chief Executives would go along with their Personal Assistants, Admin Departments and so on. That is not to mention the number of buildings that would not be required and therefore not requiring our taxes to maintain them. It worked fifty years ago when to travel ten miles wa a day out then why not now.

Michael Parker
I grew up in Northumberland with a postal address of Newcastle upon Tyne. Now that I live in North Somerset why does my Bristol postal address have to include Avon? Neither I nor Bristol are in Avon.

Mrs. P. Manwaring
I object most strongly to Avon still being used. I objected when they brought in the name, and still do. Somerset has been re-instated and it should be used by all, especially Companies etc.

Rob Bayliss
Enough of Avon. It does not exist and, in every true West Country man's heart, it never did. I live in Taunton and want to see the original county boundary restored. If we need a regional term, what is wrong with Wessex?

Local Boy
If you want to view the original campaign against the use of the word Avon then visit the BAA site - it's linked on the right.

Richard Birkby
By "county" nowadays we understand in any case what I would term the "geographical" counties, rather than the administrative ones, which, particularly with the recent changes have ironically helped to preserve the geographical integrity of the former. I mean, if asked where Torquay is the only naturally answer is Devon. Replying to a similar enquiry about Bath would not be much help if the answer given were "BANES", and don't try and tell me, for example, that my home town of Nottingham is no longer in Nottinghamshire. So don't worry, if you live in say Clevedon, it's still Somerset really, no matter who collects your council tax. As for the continuance of a non-existant Avon, it seems that the Post Office is just a bit late on delivering the update. So no surprises there, then.

colin forse
if any polition needs to know what we all think of avon let them come to north somerset and find outAll we want is to go back where we belong SOMERSET THE CAPITAL BEING TAUNTON.

Albert Davenport
I thought I was alone in objecting to the continuing use of Avon, both by instutions & software sold by the Post Office to other companies. I am incessantly trying to change my address on the databases of companies I deal with. Quite often they just do not want to know.

Brenda Sparrow
I have just watched the programme about the continual use of the name Avon for the abolished county area. It is not surprising this happens when people in authority still cause confusion about the new authority names. Last year Chanel 4 ran a competition. - "The historic roman town of Bath is in the county of a) Yorkshire or b) Somerset?" I emailed them and pointed out that neither answer was correct as Bath was in the Unitary Authority of Bath and North East Somerset and NOT Somerset County. The reply I got was that they had checked their answer with "Bath Council". If the council don't know what authority they are what hope has anyone else.

John Wilkes
Avon must go and BANES too. These hybrid names are garbage. South Gloucestershire should go too. After all there is no 'North Gloucestershire'

I write with interest about the Pratt insisting the word Avon is removed. If your researcher had done his research intelligently enough, he will know that Avon will probably be returning in the next 5 or 10 years, due to the over bureaucracy and excessive costs, it is the only effective way of maintaining a specific area, especially as regional assemblies in line with the police mergers, which are allegedly to do more with European integration. Apparently the Police mergers and County changes are due to European parliament interference. Perhaps you should investigate this, as Sounding off is a National programme after all! In addition, nothing in your report that the name Avon, actually is Saxon for River, so what is indeed more ridiculous is RIVER AVON, or AVON RIVER OR RIVER RIVER, or AVON AVON.

Mimi Plant
I live in Bath Somerset ( not BANES) and protested (possibly illegally) at the creation of Avon. My problem now is that I still don't live in Somerest again but BANES. Why can't we go back to the older tallies of Somerset, Gloucester and Bristol. The firemen could be BSG (or is that an animal disease?) which is shorter that Avon and the WI could trace their roots through a village hierarchy to a larger nearest town and finally to the old counties. After all I am sure that they will remember them. On the post office, your interview with them suggested that they don't care about the county address but my post code is BA etc. Does this stand for Bath Avon ? If so, maybe they do care.

Kevin Barrett (Clevedon, North Somerset)
I am another who hates to be told I live in Avon. Originally from Bristol I also was against the county status being taken away from us by "Maggie". Twenty four years ago I moved to Clevedon where I am proud to say I live in North Somerset. I have E mailed Lloyd's bank and asked that they stop addressing my mail to Avon, no reply form them, I also refuse to return anything with Avon on it concerning myself. In this day and age of technology it would not take a lot for business to change to the correct county status, yes cost in letter headed paper but perhaps use all of the old and order the new version as you go along. Good luck with the campaign.

Brian Allen
I Quite agree with all the comments made AVON is like piles - it wasn't wanted in the first place - it's a pain all we good SOMERSET folk have put up with for far too long and the bit of cream rubbed in for Ten Years has failed to rid us of it - so let's have a huge dollop of cream ( People Power ) and at least we might be able to drown the blessed thing at last !! We have had enough !! Please Any-one - MP's included - - help us to get it to lie down peacefully and disappear up it's own orifice. ( Please note I did put it politely !! )

John Haynes
I have just viewed the 10min.TV item about 'Avon' appearing on letters, on the nameplates of Organisations, etc. I too find it very annoying. Since moving back to the North Somerset area from Cornwall, I regularly receive letters addressed to my wife and I, at Congresbury, Bristol, Avon, BS49...... We are neither in Bristol or Avon, but firms and organisations do not seem to be prepared to update their computer systems despite being told they are 10 years out of date. Well done on highlighting this irritating and continuing frustration. Perhaps we should all return our mail with 'Avon' firmly crossed out and 'incorrect address' scrawed across the envelope. ( not if it contains a cheque though !! )

Jim Sawyer
I completely agree with Adam Thomas and have been writing, emailing and telephoning companies and the like for a couple of years now. I never recognised the County of Avon even when it existed so I was very pleased when it was abolished, I think I danced a little jig at the time. The last company I wrote to was the Alliance & Leicester when I thought I'd start an 'on-line' savings account, all was going well until I got to the field for County; every time I put in Bristol it rejected it but it would accept Avon. That annoyed so much I wrote them pointing out the following: "... I feel I should inform you that there is no such place as “Avon”; it is a river that runs through Bristol. Bristol was given the status of ‘City and County’ by King Edward III in 1373. Admittedly some ‘civil service’ bureaucrats decided to invent the County of Avon in 1974 (the year after we celebrated its 600th anniversary) that was supposed to include Bristol but I always refused to recognise this as I believe only the Queen would have sufficient authority to repeal Bristol’s status. I could not of been alone in this view as around 1996 the County of Avon was officially abolished. Consequently, to refer to the County of Avon is not only formally incorrect it is (I feel) also morally incorrect. Therefore will you please update your database ..." I quote this, or words similar to it, when ever I come across this injustice so fully support Adam Thomas in his crusade.

Weston residents
We too suffer from the Avon effect. However my wife had one victory. She refused a present with Avon printed on and got a Somerset replacement AND they altered their can be done!

Jack Stringer
I phoned Tesco Insurance and they still think I am in Avon. I live in Oakhill but as my postal town is Radstock I am now a Avon member.

Margaret Lloyd (Portishead, NORTH SOMERSET)
Watched the programme this evening and quite agree that AVON should be eradicated from all official, organisational and individual documents, letterhads, signs etc., etc. AVON IS NO MORE so why does officialdom continue to use this name????? Portishead is in NORTH SOMERSET COUNTY and NO longer in AVON COUNTY nor in BRISTOL. When I receive any letters with AVON in the address I immediately cross out the word AVON and write next to it NO SUCH COUNTY AS AVON PLEASE RETURN TO SENDER. If the address is BRISTOL that gets crossed out as well and I write NOT BRISTOL - RTS. I then put the letters into the post box and that is that. I refuse to accept any letters that are INcorrectly addressed. Good luck to Adam at SOMERSET SOUND with his campaign to have AVON removed from once and for all.

Avon, Gloucestershire Wiltshire Health Authority!! Reconfiguration plans to bring back together the Primary Care Trusts that used to be Avon - perhaps it will be called CUBA, COMMUNITIES that USED to BE AVON!! this will save money instead of 5 Cheif Executives all earning in excess of 100k there will be one, and the same goes for the excutive boards each board has a Director of Public health who earns in excess of 100k perhaps this money could go back into delivering front line services not creating more directors posts!! Great programme.

Jacqui Mayo
Having watched your progamme tonight, especially the section regarding the continued use of Avon by so many businesses and companies, I felt I had to write as I am continually infuriated by the way so many companies absolutely refuse to accept that I live in North Somerset. I have actually had some companies refuse to accept me or my address because I insist that it is NOT Avon but North Somerset, even going so far as to say that my postcode means I live in Avon and that their computers will not accept anything different, sometimes resulting in me having to take my business elsewhere because of this. Even my bank will not agree to using my correct postal address which is so odd because I live less than 3 miles away from my branch and in my cheque book they print their address as \winscombe, North Somerset but insist that Banwell is Avon. I shall continue to fight for the erradiciation of Avon and the sooner the awful name is taken out of use and off the map, the better.

Paul Gregory
I enjoyed the feature in your programme on the old Avon county. I share Adam's annoyance at the way the old county won't lie down and die. I hate seeing Avon on addresses. For some time I have been intending to create a website devoted to this problem, and your programme has given me fresh enthusiasm.

Clive Wilson
My feelings about the counties of South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset et cetera are that the old boundaries should be restored. There was nothing wrong with Somerset, Gloucestershire and the good old City and County of Bristol in the first place! (That status has never been revoked, by the way, as it would take a royal decree to do so).

Brian Nathan
I wholeheartedly support the anti Avon campaign and have been doing my little bit ever since the demise of this hated county. I always tell large companies off when they insist I live in Bristol, Avon.

Jer Boon
Keep up the good work, Adam. I've heard the name "CUBA" (the Counties that Used to Be Avon) used in place of Avon, if that's any help?

Steve Weatherill
What on earth do the locals call those abominable creatures that appear on the Avon coat of arms; seadeer/merstags, and how did they get the crowns over their antlers? Whatever they are, they are as artificial a creation as Avon itself.

Peter Pearce
My work brings me into contact with a number of former asylum seekers. The documentation they receive confirming their right to remain, or otherwise, from THE HOME OFFICE (!), invariably gives their addresses as: ' . . . ., . . . . ., BRISTOL Avon' You would have thought a government department should be aware that a 'County' had been abolished nearly 10 years ago! Incidentally, my Aunt in Australia seems to think that Bristol is in Somerset!?!!! - which is almost worse.

Nick Talbot
I can only assume that Mr Briggs did not see the programme, because if he had he'd have seen the good humour with which the subject was tackled. Adam you have my support and I'm sure that of many others. Mr Briggs, you may like where you live.....but it isn't Avon...oh and get a sense of humour!!!

Paul Gregory
I totally support Adam Thomas's campaign against Avon county. I'm glad to know there are others who feel the same as I do. Avon was foisted on us in the first place - nobody asked us if we wanted it. There is no such county any more, and the name should not be used especially for addresses.

Neil Dulley
Good on you, Adam. I am asolutely sick of being addressed as living in Avon - even though I am not living in the old Avon area. I live in Somerset. Let's be accurate about counties and use them in addresses. Far too much of our heritage is being lost.

chris morrish
I live in Bristol - born and bred - I couldn't agree with you more. I think it's disgusting that so many institutions still use the name, particularly the police. It's about time they all moved into the new millenium.

Bob Oakly
I was wondering if Mr Thomas would consider changing his radio station name to avon sound

Alan Briggs
Get a life Adam. There are more important things to spend your time on. Do something for the poor or the starving and leave Avon alone. We like it and you don't live here, we do!

andy richards
is Adam speaking on behalf of the BBC I wonder - or are these views solely his own? Either way I don't think a BBC employee should use the corporation as a platform in this dubious fashion..

Owain Vaughan (Newport, Monmouthshire)
County identity is a problem throughout Britain. The Association of British Counties have several aims: Mark the ancient county boundaries on Ordnance Survey maps, erect brown tourist-style signs on the real borders, reform the Lieutenancies Act 1997 amongst others to return ceremonial offices to the real counties. It's also up to journalists including the BBC to use real county names instead of ever-changing administrative names in reports.

Jeremy Gardner
I think the name Avon should be revived. I am from SOmerset but now live in an area of the former Avon and I think the four unitary authorities are each very poor. They need to work together as they largely encompass a commuter belt for bristol and bath and many of their problems can only be solved at the avon level. Bring back Avon and give it unitary status. If somerset and Glos want the more rural bits back then let them have them but we need to recognise the reality of the urban areas of bristol, bath and Weston in today's world. Otherwise we will all suffer the consequences of bad planning and reactive development. Stop being so sentimental!

As long as databases continue to associate former postal counties with addresses then Avon will continue to exist.

Martin Cooke
It is not a one man project Adam, I support you

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