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Butten Island

Butten Island lies at the confluence of the rivers Thet and Little Ouse, just south of Thetford Town Centre. Most of the island is an area of public open space, proposed to be named "The Maharajah Ranjit & Duleep Singh Park on Butten Island".

The land is owned and maintained by Breckland District Council. The island features a statue and memorial to Duleep Singh, the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, and a memorial garden in memory of a local resident, Kaye Bloomfield. In June 2021, two outdoor table tennis tables and two chess tables were installed by Breckland Council, as part of their Market Towns Initiative.

Butten Island with the statue of Duleep Singh in the background, May 2020.

Origin of the Name

It is unknown exactly where the name "Butten Island" originated. Theories are that it was named after a local family who owned the land, and also that it might be a curruption of "Butler's Island". On a map from 1837, the northern part of the island (now adjacent to the Tanner Street Car park) was labelled "Oster Car", while the part between this and the Mill was labelled "Lammas Meadow". The name "Butten Island" appears embossed on direction indicator on the side of the tricorn bridge, so the island was presumably known by that name at the time the bridge was insalled.

Naming of the Open Space

At a Breckland District Council Cabinet meeting on 20th September 2021, a report by Cllr Paul Claussen was presented, which included a proposal to rename the Island to "Maharajah Ranjit & Duleep Singh Park". Despite "Key stakeholders and leaders" being "involved in the development and concept behind the renaming", Cllr Roy Brame reported at the meeting that the local Sikh community did want the island itself to be renamed, but would prefer the open space on the island to be named "The Park of Maharajah Ranjit and Duleep Singh on Butten Island". The Cabinet then agreed to the amended resolution "To approve the renaming of Butten Island in Thetford to The Maharajah Ranjit & Duleep Singh Park on Butten Island". (View a video recording of the discussion.)

Despite the approved motion clearly saying that Butten Island was being renamed, that was probably not the intention. Breckland Council's press release after the meeting said that it was only the parkland on the island that was getting the new name. Both the EDP and the BBC initially reported that the Island had been renamed, before changing their articles (presumably at the request of Breckland Council).