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On Hyphens

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For centuries Bradford on Avon was content with being just “Bradford”, or perhaps “Bradford, Wilts”. There were lots of Bradfords around the country, but people didn’t move far and there was no real reason for distinguishing them from each other.

When the railways came, reaching our Bradford in 1857, it became necessary to tell which Bradford was which in timetables and for ticketing. Rumour has it that the antiquarian vicar, Canon William Jones, who knew that a battle had been fought at bradanforda bei afne in 652, suggested that Bradford on Avon become the town’s name. The Great Western Railway renamed the station Bradford-on-Avon in 1899. Other Bradfords took extensions to their names- like Bradford Abbas in Dorset, Bradford-on-Tone near Taunton, but the Bradford in Yorkshire seems to have considered itself too important to change.

Whether to hyphenate or not? The railways adopted hyphens everywhere and so did the Royal Mail and the Ordnance Survey, but the Town Council and many other local organisations do not.

Bradford on Avon Museum has no hyphens.

On this website, hyphens in the name are not used, but where a hyphenated usage from another source is quoted, is is quoted in that fashion.

Anyone who lives around here refers to the town simply as “Bradford”, unless there is the unlikely chance of confusion with somewhere else, or even more simply as “B on A”.