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College shells out £25K on apostrophe

John Murray

In stark contrast to the apostrophe-shunning likes of Waterstones, Boots and Morrisons, a North West college has rebranded itself with the help of a flying comma.

Preston College has changed its name to Preston’s College  in a move that, although typographically small, significantly alters the dynamics of what the institute is promoting itself as being in its name.

Explaining the change, a spokesperson for the newly-named establishment said:

“The new brand name has been introduced to communicate a vision that has its sights set on establishing the college as one of the top enterprising colleges in Britain, as well as reflecting the college’s heritage and continued commitment to enhancing its contribution to the Lancashire community.”

Based in Fulwood on the outskirts on Preston, the learning centre seemingly wants to establish itself as the college most readily associated with the Lancashire city. It may be helped by its biggest institution, the University of Central Lancashire, not mentioning Preston in its name.

One of the strongest arguments given in favour of dropping apostrophes is that they do not lend themselves to URLs. This is not something Preston’s College has taken into consideration in the address of its new website, which can be found at

Possessive apostrophes in higher education institutions are not a new thing, as any alumni of Queen’s University Belfast or Sotheby’s Institute of Art will happily testify. Not far from Preston lies Liverpool John Moores University, which initially might look like an unforgivable omission. Its inspiration, however, was Littlewoods founder Sir John Moores (not Moore), so maybe we should give it the benefit of the doubt.

Using a possessive with the name of the location is an unusual step, however, and might well appeal to the budding grammarian appreciative of a college looking to distinguish itself from the crowd. Whether we can expect to see Oxford’s University take on Cambridge’s University on future showings of University Challenge is doubtful, however.

John is every inch the wordsmith and loves a game of Scrabble above all else. With experience writing for newspapers, John’s time at university was spent studying Creative Writing – something which comes across in his love of the pun.

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