What’s In A Name?

Our chairman opened a debate on the name of the Association in Journal 73. There was discussion in the September committee meeting, summarised here by Robert McCloy. Gordon Knowles responded, below. Please join in the debate via the comments box at the bottom of the page, or send your arguments for publication to the webmaster, john@globespinner.net.


The committee gave preliminary consideration to the possibility of revising the Association’s name. In addition to the suggestion made in The Journal, the ‘Highway Historian’, and one submitted by a member in response, Ken Swallow suggested the possibility of simply shortening the title to ‘The Road Transport History Association’. It was agreed to give the matter further consideration notwithstanding general agreement to retain the existing title for official and legal purposes.

Robert McCloy, Chairman


Dear Robert,

I was intrigued by the comments of our Chairman in issue No 73 of the Journal with thoughts on a possible change of name for the association. Founder members, such as I, always feel disappointed when their original deliberations are changed, but in this case I agree our title is a little unwieldy and I have always suspected might put off ‘ordinary’ potential members who feel that we are purely an ‘academic’ body.

So I support the idea of change, I suggest that the organisation could be retitled ‘The Highway History Association’ and the Journal as ‘The Highway  Historian’.  I think the latter is not quite right for the association but would suit our publication. If we fully change our ‘official ’name then there would be legal consequences I suggest as we are a company limited by guarantee. If we keep the old name as well as using a new alternative it could be confusing especially to outsiders. I think that for a year or so we would need to indicate that we were formerly the R&RTHA in any correspondence etc. until members and others are familiar with the new title. Will be pleased to learn of any outcome.

Best wishes

Gordon Knowles


2 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?

  1. Dave Bubier

    The use of `Roads AND Road Transport` in the original title was, I believe, to lay emphasis on the intention to embrace the development, construction and legislative matters concerning the history of the roads themselves (something far less attention was seen as having been paid to in the past), as well as to the (diverse) users of same. To shorten the title to `Road Transport` only would surely narrow the parameters overmuch. For that reason alone I would not favour changing the official title of the Association, quite apart from some of the detail complexities that might ensue.

    Changing the title of the official organ of the R&RTHA to something more `catchy` is another matter entirely and something like `Highways` does have a certain appeal. However, in doing so it is necessary to decide whether it should be reaffirmed as an outlet for serious, semi-academic, studies of the spheres that we embrace or merely the `proceedings` of the Association. Personal unease that we may be drifting towards the latter option.

  2. Martin Higginson

    In my opinion shortening the title to Road Transport History Association would not narrow our coverage – roads are part of road transport and this title would not omit them..

    However, re-titling to use only the word Highways would represent a major narrowing of perspective. None of the operational modes would be covered.


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