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What happened to Plymouth street's 'missing' houses?

By Plymouth Herald  |  Posted: February 03, 2014

By CLAIRE JONES Herald Reporter @clairejonesth

Comments (7)

MYSTERY surrounds a Plymouth street with two ‘missing’ houses.

Stangray Avenue, in Mutley, has a total of 72 houses along the terraced street, but there are two house numbers missing – number four and number 24.

The reason why has perplexed Plymouth City Council, Royal Mail and the Land Registry, with no record of either house ever being built.

A spokeswoman from Plymouth City Council said: “Curiouser and curiouser! I am afraid we are mystified too!

“Our staff checked the old books and maps and it has always been the case. If you find out let us know!”

So where did they go?

Many residents on the street hadn’t noticed they were missing, but were soon left scratching their heads about why they weren’t there.

Jenni Brady, who lives in number 16, said: “I’ve never even noticed. How strange. I can’t believe that, what a mystery.”

Avril Jenkins, from number 17, hadn’t noticed either. She said: “How unusual. I never even realised. Very peculiar.”

But Andrea Lynch has lived in number 26 for 40 years. She said the houses were 110 years old, and had always thought number 22 was larger than the other homes.

“They were all made to how people wanted them. Maybe the original owners of number 22 wanted it bigger and there wasn’t enough space for Number 24?

“I haven’t seen another road like that, but it’s nice, it’s unusual.”

There are tales as old as time about the number 13 being unlucky for some.

In Plymouth City Council’s guide to street naming and numbering it acknowledges the ongoing issues surrounding number 13.

It states: “Number 13 is always omitted when numbering developments as over the years there have been requests to the council to renumber properties that were originally numbered 13.”

But at Stangray Avenue, number 13 is present and correct.

So what’s wrong with number four and 24?

In China, number four is considered unlucky. However, on Mutley’s Stangray Avenue, number 14, 34, 44, 54, and 64 can all be accounted for.

If the residents would like the houses to be renumbered it may take some time.

The council guide to renumbering a street states that if more than 10 properties need to be renumbered it is a “major scheme”.

It says that to do that it would be necessary for the street naming and numbering officer to consult the respective ward councillors for their views on the proposals.

Also that at least two thirds of the householders must be in agreement with the proposed renumbering scheme for it to proceed or if less than two thirds a decision to renumber can be made by the cabinet member.

But Despite the number conundrum, none of the residents were in a hurry to renumber the street, so until then, the mystery goes on.

Do you have a street with a difference? Email cjones@plymouthherald.co.uk with more strange street goings on.


THE street naming and numbering process, compiled by Plymouth City Council, outlines the reasoning behind how our streets are named and numbered.

The council states that all new street names should end with terminal words such as Road, Street, Avenue, Drive, Lane, Place, Gardens and Way.

A Terrace is for a terrace of houses, but not a subsidiary name within another road. This practice was ceased many years ago at the request of emergency services and Royal Mail due to the difficulties associated with trying to locate named properties quickly.

In terms of the numbering protocols, houses are always numbered with odd numbers on the left side of the road, when entering from the principal road, and even numbers on the right.

Where a cul-de-sac is developed, the numbering should be consecutive and in a clockwise direction.

If the development is an infill site and there are no spare numbers within the sequence, then letters will be suffixed to the numbers such as 10A or 10B.

Number 13 is always omitted when numbering developments as over the years there have been requests to the council to renumber properties that were originally numbered 13.

There are only certain occasions when each title can be used. Crescent can only be used for a crescent-shaped road, whereas Close can only be used for a cul-de-sac. Also Square can only be used for a square shaped road and Hill can, obviously only be used for a road on a hill.

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  • DevonEagle  |  February 03 2014, 6:47PM

    Door numbers are actually a secret in Plymouth. Most are not visible from the road and those that are can disappear once darkness falls with the poor level of street lighting. You may think it's not a problem if the delivery lorry struggles to find your house too easily or your taxi is delayed trying to work out exactly where to stop. However think if it is a doctor or a paramedic looking for you. It could be the difference between life and death. In the London Borough of Barnet it is strongly reccomended by the local authority that your number is displayed not only at your front door but also where the property meets the street.

    Rate 0
  • marc1964  |  February 03 2014, 4:33PM

    Booooring Yawn Yawn thank you herald for curing my insonia

    Rate   -4
  • Jenn11  |  February 03 2014, 2:07PM

    I cant believe there is even a discussion about changing numbers. You have a house to live in if you have spare money send it to Looe to help those affected by the flooding, that will actually make a viable difference.

    Rate   -11
  • 10thattempt  |  February 03 2014, 10:36AM

    These streets were built in batches, often from the end to the middle, and all vary. I live a couple of streets away and mine is about 18 inches wider than the ones either side. The houses on Stangray are generally larger than on the streets further down the hill (Dale Gdns and Ridge Park Ave) and so it is reasonable to assume that when the built the end ones, they measured the street and allocated the numbers. Number 24 was where they met when they built from the ends inwards. The first 5 houses on Stangray span 32 metres, the next 28 metres, then 32 metres again. With variation like that it is easy to gain or lose a house over a street. As the build progressed they realised that they woul

    Rate   4
  • welsh_exile  |  February 03 2014, 10:18AM

    That makes a change. It's usually the Luftwaffe gets the blame ... you can't pin this one on them.

    Rate   5
  • hello_world  |  February 03 2014, 9:32AM

    It does look like the missing houses are between different phases of building, so it's possible someone was using the numbers 4 and 24 for side houses, or small offices round the back, or for a construction shack. When they built the next phase they omitted those numbers for the new houses to avoid confusion with the old, but gone, buildings.

    Rate   1
  • Semperfidelis  |  February 03 2014, 7:51AM

    South View Terrace (St Judes) is missing number 52 too. Though the reason for this is known as the street used to end at 51 and was then added to. When added to they changed from counting the house numbers up in ones to the more recognised up in 2s, therefore it skipped from 51 to 53

    Rate   2