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What's in a name? Network Rail criticised over 'wrong' name on Thurso railway bridge

By Jean Gunn

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The incorrectly named bridge.
The incorrectly named bridge.

Concern has been expressed about Network Rail incorrectly naming a bridge in Thurso as Jumperbank instead of Juniper Bank.

Thurso man Darren Manson, who has contacted the railway company about the error, said: "The signs are wrong and need to be changed because in an emergency, services are not going to be able to find a place called Jumperbank as it doesn't exist."

He pointed out that he had noticed two new signs on the bridge over the railway at the south end of Janet Street, towards Thurso High School, last week.

Mr Manson stressed: "The sign gives the location Jumperbank, of which there is no such place in Thurso. There never has been.

"I brought this to the attention of Network Rail whose responsibility the sign is. They insisted their records are correct.

"It seems a born and bred local of 53 years knows nothing of the place he grew up in – I used to play around and go to school alongside where the bridge is. I sent evidence with two screen shots showing web search results for the correct name and the wrong name.

"This pushed their adviser to put the issue forward for investigation but later I received an email stating that their engineer has said the name of Jumperbank is correct.

"He and their records are wrong."

Mr Manson explained that the actual name of the location was Juniper Bank, located within the grounds of Juniper Bank House.

"The area is well known locally and is one of three houses with the word bank in their name in that part of town.

"Just about everyone who ever went to the high school is familiar with the area and all my life I've never heard anyone say Jumperbank as a name for any part of that place.

"It seems to me that when the area was added to Network Rail's records someone wrote it wrong and that wrong has stuck, and now we have them arguing 'flat earth' over this sign.

"There's over 150 years of maps and photographs, local records and such with no mention of Jumperbank – unless this is the best kept secret ever. There just isn't anything within that entire part of town that is called or referred to as Jumperbank, but Network Rail are digging their heels in and insisting the locals don't know their own town."

A Network Rail spokesperson stated that for them the name on the sign was not the important factor, the important thing was that the bridge number was correct.

Providing a history of the area in question, Alan MacIvor, chairman of Thurso Heritage Society, stated that Juniper Bank was a small farm, around 10 acres in size with the name dating back to around 1840, possibly a bit earlier. Later it was one of the suggested sites for Thurso cemetery, but it fell through as the authorities could not access enough land with the ground at Mount Vernon being acquired instead in 1866.

Mr MacIvor said: "The use of the word Juniper as a place name for this area dates back to at least 1811. I know 'jumper' is used in railway terminology, but I must admit that in the 30 odd years I have been researching Thurso I have never seen or come across a Jumperbank in Thurso.

"I certainly haven't seen it in any historical documents. It sounds like a mix up, which can easily happen, and it has never been changed."

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