Shitterton and a sign of the times
Villagers living in Dorset hamlet of Shitterton refuse to be beaten by thieves with lavatory humour.
THE residents of Shitterton have grown used to being the butt of jokes. But that doesn't mean they aren't proud of their pretty hamlet in the Dorset countryside.
So it was a source of great dismay that the signpost announcing its name was repeatedly stolen by souvenir hunters with a fondness for lavatory humour.
So bad was the problem that, three years ago, the fed-up district council stopped replacing the sign, meaning that drivers passing through the hamlet could be unaware that they were ever in Shitterton at all.
Now, in a move that could exemplify British Prime Minister David Cameron's Big Society, a group of public-spirited Shittertonians has decided to take matters into their own hands.
They each chipped in £20 to purchase a lump of Purbeck Stone weighing more than a ton and had it engraved with the hamlet's "interesting" name to act as a proud, and permanent, sign.
Ian Ventham, 62, chairman of the parish council, who lives at Shitterton Farmhouse with his wife Diana, 61, said: "We have lived here for the last 20 years and during that time the sign has been nicked at least three times."
"We think it was kids who would like to have it stuck on the wall in a den somewhere because it's quite an interesting sign."
"I don't think it was malicious, they just did it for fun, but it was exasperating for us. We would get a nice new shiny sign from the council and five minutes later, it was gone."
Not only was the lack of a sign annoying, he said, but "it could make life confusing for delivery drivers". "It was my wife's idea to carve it out of stone," he said. "We thought, 'Let's put in a ton and a half of stone and see them try and take that away in the back of a Ford Fiesta'."
Mr Ventham, a retired RNLI director, wrote to neighbours asking them to donate £20 towards the cost of the immovable sign. Of 50 households, well over half contributed. After being told of the plan, Purbeck district council agreed to give £70 towards the cost.
Mr Ventham said he felt the project was a good example of community empowerment as proposed by the Prime Minister in his Big Society.
"I am not sure if he is expressly thinking about Shitterton signposts, but I think he is talking about people getting off their backsides and doing things, rather than expecting them to be done for you," he added. Not all are happy that the name is now set in stone, however. A few in the hamlet, on the outskirts of Bere Regis, prefer the more genteel Sitterton.
Mr Ventham said: "In Victorian times prudes decided to call it Sitterton, so even today in Shitterton we have Sitterton Close and Sitterton House. The rest of us prefer the rather more earthy Shitterton."