Whether to add an apostrophe or not...


May I ask what the done thing is when it comes to apostrophes please?

I have two roads in my area which I am unsure of what to do with: St.Michaels Road and St.Davids Close. OS Opendata says the street names should have apostrophes (St.Michael’s Road and St.David’s Close) and by the normal rules of English I would agree with them. However, the physical street signs at the location don’t have apostrophes.

What would you do please?


Generally, when in doubt people tag what is on the physical street signs.

Yes, I would go for what it says on the street signs, unless you have good reason to think otherwise.
You can still tag the alternative version with/without apostrophes as alt_name or something.

The OS Opendata can be a bit inconsistent as to whether it includes apostrophes or not. I’ve noticed quite a few examples where OS Streetview has one but OS Locator doesn’t, or vice versa. So I wouldn’t necessarily believe it.
If you were really interested, you could contact the local council, and ask what the ‘official’ name is. You could also check what any businesses/houses give as their street address.

I have also seen a few streets where different signs have different spelling of the name…

I’ll try to give the council a call. Any idea which department I should ask to speak to?

Regarding copyright and “creating derivative works”, if I call the council, the person I speak to looks up the road name on their map (to which we don’t have copyright access) and I then use the name they give me, have I contaminated the copyright of our map? I think it would be considered wrong if I went to the library and used that map there to names roads. Is it any different if an employee of the council reads it to me over the phone?


The council’s roads and transport department would be the ones to ask. They should have a list of “adopted roads”, ie all of the roads they are responsible for maintaining.
Yes, these lists are probably copyrighted, so you shouldn’t just copy everything from them (at least without explicit permission). But I think asking to check the spelling of a single road is OK.

Though I’m not sure how useful or accurate they will be for street names, I think some of the lists might just refer to roads by their reference numbers anyway.