BRITISH PLAQUE TRUST
Web site: BluePlaqueSite
A Blue Plaque is a recognised symbol of our national heritage, a living footprint of our history and serves as a permanent reminder of important contributions to the history of the country. The British Plaque Trust commemorates the contributions, lives and notable, influential and successful people from all walks of life.
We have unveiled plaques celebrating many genres over the years, including Culture, Art, Literature, Philanthropy, Sport, Entertainment, Science and Music., and 2018 sees us creating history by unveiling plaques in Commonwealth countries under our Commonwealth Trust banner.
Our team comprises, Mike Read, Ian Freeman, Nicky Cox MBE and our Patrons, Charles, 9th Earl Spencer and Lord Grade.
2017 saw us working closely with the BBC for BBC Music day on June 9th, when we unveiled almost 50 plaques across the country, commemorating local music legends.
Photographs of our plaques are below, followed by a more in-depth look at a few of them.
The plaque to Buddy Holly & the Crickets was unveiled in March 2018 at what was the Gaumont when Buddy, Joe B. Mauldin and Jerry Alison played there on March 22nd 1958 as part of what would be their only UK tour. They played three shows at the Salisbury venue and were supported by Des O’Connor, The Tanner Sisters, Gary Miller and Ronnie Keene & his Orchestra, the tour promoters, coincidentally, being Lew and Leslie Grade, the uncles of the British Plaque Trust’s Ian Freeman. Kevin Montgomery, the son of Buddy’s original partner, Bob Montgomery (who wrote such songs as Heartbeat and Wishing) was present to assist with the unveiling. As the plaque was part of BBC Music Day, BBC Wiltshire broadcast a live show on the day.
Our Blue Plaque to film pioneer Cecil Hepworth was unveiled on June 17th 2018 by actor William Russell Enoch on the only remaining building from the once great complex that began life in 1899 as Hepworth Studios. During the 1920s it became Nettlefold Studios and among it’s successes were the adventure series’ The Buccaneers, The Adventures of Robin Hood and Sir Lancelot. The latter starred William Russell and was produced at the studio in 1955 and 1956.he later landed a major role on the first series of Dr. Who and later still appeared in a major role in Coronation Street. Several other actors, actresses and other people who’d worked at the studios attended the day, which included a day of old films and interviews courtesy of the highly-successful TV Channel, Talking Pictures TV.
A more detailed look at some of our plaques.
Tin Pan Alley….Denmark Street.
On Sunday April 6 th 2014 the British Plaque Trust unveiled a Blue Plaque at The Gioconda, 9,Denmark St, London, the street known as ‘Tin Pan Alley’. The plaque honours songwriters and publishers to whom this street was home between 1911 and 1992. Many of the world’s most famous songwriters and publishers attended to witness Donovan, inductee of the US Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and US Songwriters Hall of Fame, unveil the plaque. The multi-million selling artist wrote and recorded a song for the occasion, called ‘Tin Pan Alley‘ which he performed on the day. The Gioconda was the hub of the street, where the young hopefuls like David Bowie, Elton John and the Rolling Stones would meet. The Beatles recorded on this street and got their first publishing deal, as did Paul Simon. The Stones, Donovan, the Kinks and Bowie recorded all their early materia here. Hendrix rehearsed here the Sex Pistols lived here and the New Musical express and Melody Maker began in Tin Pan alley.
Mike Read with some of the UK’s top songwriters gathered for the unveiling. Left to right: Tony Hiller, Mitch Murray, John Carter, Bill Martin, Donovan and Don Black.
The Football Association Founding Fathers Plaque – Wembley Stadium
On October 21st 2013 at Wembley Stadium, the British Plaque Trust was proud to partner the English Football Association in dedicating a 150th anniversary commemorative plaque to the Founding Fathers who set down the original rules of the game in 1863. The Trust Chairman, Mike Read, gave one of the addresses along with former England player
Sir Trevor Brooking CBE, Director of Football Development at the FA, who unveiled the plaque with the youngest of the descendants relations, eight-year- old Isaac Lord who’d travelled from New Zealand for the occasion.
Our guests at Wembley Stadium included Sir William and Lady McAlpine, the McAlpine
family having built the original Wembley Stadium as part of the Empire Exhibition in 1923. A total of 16 relatives of the Founding Fathers of football attended a special ceremony at the Stadium on the 21st October 2013 where a Blue Plaque was unveiled paying tribute to the historical significance of their work in creating a game that is now enjoyed by billions of people around the world. The event started off a week of celebrations for The FA’s 150th birthday, which culminated in a Gala Dinner on the anniversary date itself; Saturday the 26th October 2013.
Dr. Jane Clayton from the International Football Institute, University of Central Lancashire,said:
“For the search to have been so successful is incredibly pleasing as, from a historical perspective, we now know a lot more about a number of the men that created the most popular sport in the world one hundred and fifty years ago. The research carried out to date has been extensive but the work continues in the hope of discovering more descendants across the world.”
Alex Horne, General Secretary of The FA, added:
“In terms of historical significance, the eight Founding Fathers of football should be placed alongside other great pioneers of this nation. The game has become a focal point of the lives of nearly every household in England since it was formed, so to now understand more about the history of these men is incredibly important. The FA is delighted that in its 150 th year we have been able to identify living descendants and honour their forefathers at what is now the home of English football, Wembley.”
Broadcaster Mike Read,Chairman of The British Plaque Trust, and a lifelong Bury FC fan, who had been in discussion with The FA about the commemoration for several months. He said:
“The Founding Fathers of football helped give the world a sport which down the generations has inspired many billions. We wanted to ensure that the momentous moment was marked in the appropriate manner and so the British Plaque Trust recognizable tribute to mark this historic occasion. ”
Blue Plaque is anhttps://blueplaquesite.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/bpt-norwood.jpg?w=1462 appropriate and
NIPPER the HMV Dog
HMV CEO Ian Topping technically unveiled the plaque in October 2014 at the Cavalry & Guards Club, Piccadilly, in front of an invited audience. It was erected outside a few weeks later.
In 1884 Mark Barraud, a designer at the Princes Theatre, Bristol brought a stray puppy home for his five children to their house in Banner Road, Bristol.
Nipper was born to unknown parents around 1884 and given his name because he was in
the habit of nipping people’s ankles. Barraud died in 1887 leaving the family so destitute that they had to be broken up. The five children went into homes and convents while his wife went to live with her mother-in law. No provision had been made for Nipper, the stray fox terrier with a hint of bull terrier and a dash of Jack Russell, and he was unable to be housed by any of Mark’s family. Rather than him taking to the streets again, one of Mark Barraud’s younger brothers’ Francis, took Nipper with him to Liverpool, when he went to live with their other brother, Philip. Philip was a photographer, based at 92, Bold Street,referred to then as ‘The Bond Street of the North.’ In the photographic studio was a new phonograph, which seemed to intrigue Nipper, mystified by hearing a disembodied voice. Philip took a photograph of the dog, gazing into the trumpet with his ears pricked. When two of Mark Barraud’s boys eventually left the convent and went into business they were able to reunite their family in one home. That meant Nipper coming south again, spending his twilight years chasing the pheasants in Richmond Park and following the young Mark to work in the family studio on Clarence Street. The Barrauds had photographic studios in Liverpool, London and Kingston. In 1950, fifty-five years after Nipper went for his final walk to that great kennel in the sky. Mark Barraud wrote this about the dog’s demise:
‘Nipper became my great pal, so when my mother and brother started a home at Kingston-upon-Thames I joined them, bringing Nipper with me. I was at a studio in Kingston and Nipper went to work with me each day.’ He lived, for the last part of his life across at that house, No 54, Clarence St. Kingston and the brass plaque across the road at Lloyds Bank denotes his grave. Mark Barraud, whose family owned Nipper, remembered burying him here in 1895, in the garden of their neighbour, a solicitor called Durham, whose premises were where Lloyd’s bank is now. The Barraud’s premises didn’t have a garden, so Nipper was buried across the road under the remains of a mulberry tree.
THE ORIGINS of HMV
By the 1890’s Disc gramophones had begun to appear and by 1902 the forerunner to HMV, the Gramophone Company, was taking shape. In February 1907 they built a factory at Hayes, for making records. These were sold in music shops and other retailers, with the Company opening the very first store under the HMV name. The store was on HMV’s current site site in Oxford Street, a former men’s clothing shop, and was opened by the composer Edward Elgar in July 1921. By the 30s, the HMV and Marconiphone names also began to feature on radio and television sets made at the Hayes factory, while in 1931 the Gramophone Company, with its His Master’s Voice record label, merged with the Columbia Gramophone Company to form Electric and Musical industries Ltd…EMI….This meant that Nipper would not only feature on the HMV label but also over the years, on associated brands, EMI, RCA Victor, the Talking Machine Company, JVC and Deutsche Grammophon.
Following Nipper’s demise Francis Barruaud painted the dog from memory, looking into his phonograph trumpet, giving it the title, ‘Dog looking at and listening to a Phonograph. He completed it in 1898 and renamed it ‘His Master’s Voice.’ Barraud was initially unsuccessful in trying to sell the image, with even the Royal Academy displaying complete disinterest.Francis showed his painting of Nipper, head cocked, listening to the phonograph, to James E Hough, the founder of the Edison Bell Company. Hough replied in his bluff, direct Yorkshire manner, ‘Dogs don’t listen to phonographs!’So at the end of May 1899, Francis Barraud visited their rivals in Maiden Lane,Covent Garden, at what was then The Gramophone Company’s headquarters. He left them a photograph of his 36” x 28”painting with the company’s American MD Barry Owen and later wrote about the ensuing scenario:
“I was not satisfied with the trumpet I had painted. It was black and ugly, and I wanted something more pictorial. One day a friend of mine suggested I call on the Gramophone Company and ask them to lend me a brass horn to paint from; so armed with a small photograph of my oil painting, I paid them a visit at their offices, which were then in Maiden Lane. To a gentleman I saw there I explained what I required and showed him the photograph. He asked at once if he might show it to the manager, Mr. Barry Owen. I agreed. Mr. Owen shortly came out and asked me if the picture was for sale and whether I could introduce a Gramophone of their own make instead of the one in the picture. I replied that the picture was for sale and I could make the alteration if they would let me have an instrument to paint from.”
In September 1899, Francis Barraud accepted the Gramophone Company’s formal offer of £50 for the painting and £50 for the copyright. On the 18th of that month, the company sent their latest Gramophone round to Barraud’s London studio at 126 Piccadilly and by October 3rd he’d painted out the original machine, painted the new machine over it, and completed what would become one of the best-known images in the world. The Gramophone Company first used the image on their advertising literature in 1900, later featuring it on novelty promotional items. Nipper featured on needle tins and boxes, radiograms, ashtrays, paperweights, Christmas Cards, baseball caps and even on playing cards in the States.
Nipper was used in the company’s headed notepaper from 1909 with both the painting and the title being registered as a trademark in 1910. In 1900 5,000 copies of the painting were printed on postcards and sold for 12/6d each. There is even an early film, made when Queen Victoria was still on the throne in 1900, of a Nipper tribute dog. Elvis was one of many 50s artists who began their careers on the label where they were cheek by jowl with Nipper. And in the States Nipper featured on the RCS Victor label alongside the King. And he wasn’t the only king. Nipper hobnobbed with George V….
126 Piccadilly has long been part of the Cavalry & Guards Club, which is where this plaque to Nipper was erected in October 2014 by the British Plaque Trust.
THE PERIPATETIC AND OMINPRESENT NIPPER.
As well as the plaque in Bristol and a brass plaque in Kingston, where Nipper is buried, there are monuments to Nipper in the most unlikely places. A 25ft high Nipper sits on top of what was RCA’s building on Broadway, in Albany, New York.
With his steel frame weighing a mighty four tons and just in case he gets lost, he has ‘Nipper’ engraved on his collar. Because of his height, he also has an aircraft beacon sticking, rather fetchingly, out of his right ear. Another, slightly smaller Nipper which for many years sat over Lee Highway (Route 29) but was saved when the area was developed and is now commemorated there in the road, Nipper Way. The pooch is now back at its original home in Baltimore, although not at its original home at the former RCA building on Russell Street, but on top of the Maryland Historical Society Building. The statue features a rather distracted Nipper, looking slightly weary at spending decades being fooled by a gramophone recording.
It’s intriguing that a late Victorian mongrel dog has three statues, features on three commemorative plaques and has two thoroughfares named after him, including Nipper Alley in Kingston-Upon- Thames. There was also a pub, the Dog & Trumpet in London’s Great Marlborough St., named after him, directly across the road and within view of the one-time HQ of EMI and HMV’s great rivals, Decca Records.
Nipper was even featured in a coat of arms. In 1960 when Joseph Lockwood, the head of EMI was knighted the dog Nipper was woven into the heraldry:
‘Gules within an Orle of Millrinds Argent a Garb also Argent, and the crest on a wreath of colours, ‘On a Rock a smooth-haired Fox Terrier sejant proper resting the dexter fore-paw on a Lyre Or.’
Rupert Brooke: The Orchard Grantchester.
A plaque was unveiled to the poet Rupert Brooke at the Orchard Grantchester on Saturday 25th April 2015, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Brooke’s death. It bore the inscription:
Poet & Soldier 1887-1915
Lived and wrote at The Orchard
and at The Old Vicarage
Born in Rugby in 1887, Rupert Chawner Brooke attended a local preparatory, Hillbrow,
before becoming a pupil at Rugby School where his father was a housemaster. The family, including Rupert and his two brothers, lived at School House, the young Brooke becoming an enthusiastic cricketer, rugby player and member of the cadet corps. It was while at Rugby that he began to write poetry as well as travelling to Italy and Belgium. He went up to King’s College Cambridge early in 1907, just a few weeks after the death of his older brother Richard. During his first year he and the future Chancellor of the Exchequer, Hugh Dalton, founded a University discussion Society, the Carbonari, Brooke also becoming involved in the dramatic society and later becoming a Fabian. As well as being enamoured by meeting his literary giants HG Wells and Hilaire Belloc, he became besotted by the youngest daughter of Sir Sydney Olivier (later Lord Olivier) Noel. In 1909 he moved out of Kings to take rooms at The Orchard, Grantchester, but early in 1910 had to take time out from his
studies, to step into his father’s shoes at School House for a period, following the death of Mr. Brooke. Many of his increasing circle of friends were influential and well-connected politically and artistically, with the likes of Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf and Henry Jamescoming to visit Brooke at the Orchard.
On the education front, his fellowship dissertation was on Webster and the Elizabethan dramatists. After an extended sojourn in Germany, Brooke moved from the Orchard to the house next door, The Old Vicarage, in May 1911. The house would become famous through his poem, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester, which was written a few months after Brooke’s first book of poems was published at the end of 1911. As his intended romance with Noel Olivier seemed to be going nowhere, he turned his
attention to Newnham student Ka Cox, with who he had an affair. This followed at nervous and emotional breakdown while Brooke was staying at Lulworth Cove with a group of friends. After failing to obtain his Fellowship he became restless and directionless, wandering from place to place around Britain and Europe to stay with various friends and searching. It seems, for a way forward and a sense of purpose. By the end of 1912 he’d become more settled again and during 1913 had begun a relationship with the actress Cathleen Nesbitt. It would transpire that during the period between 1912 and 1914, he had several liaisons, as he tried to find some sort of contentment. In 1912, Brooke’s literary mentor, Edward Marsh, began the Georgian Poets to help bring the work of Rupert and his contemporary poets to the public’s attention. The following year, Marsh also organised for Brooke to travel to the States to write articles for the Westminster Gazette. He travelled for a year, taking in North America, Canada and Polynesia. It was in Tahiti that he began to grow as a poet, discovering a relaxed way of life that appealed to him and enjoying a relationship with a young Tahitian girl Taatatmata.
Within a few months of his return to England war was declared against Germany and through the offices of Eddie Marsh and Winston Churchill Brooke was drafted into the Anson Battalion of the RNVR Royal Naval Division. In December he was transferred to the Hood Battalion in the Royal Naval Division, by which time he’d begun working on what have popularly become known as his war sonnets, which include his most famous poem, The Soldier. On March 1 st 1915 Brooke sailed with the RND on the SS Grantully Castle to take part in the Gallipoli campaign. He was taken ill just as The Times
announced that the Dean of St Pauls had read The Soldier to his congregation, but was not able to enjoy this moment of glory that was to cement his reputation as a poet. He died of septicaemia on the French hospital ship the Duguay-Trouin on April 23rd hours before the campaign was launched. His battalion buried him in an Olive Grove on the Island of Skyros. He was twenty-seven years old. His Commander-in- Chief reflected on why Rupert Brooke seemed so special:
“Is it because he was a hero? …There were thousands … Is it because he looked a hero?…There were a few. Is it because he had genius? …There were others. But Rupert Brooke held all three gifts of the gods in his hand.”
The poet WB Yeats referred to Brooke as: “The handsomest young man in England.”
The Letters of Rupert Brooke, edited by his old school friend Sir Geoffrey Keynes in 1968, provides a fascinating insight into his short life.
Special guests at the unveiling included Dame Pippa Harris and Tamsin Amour, whose grandmother, Noel Olivier, was a close friend of Brooke and for many years the object of his love, William Pryor is the grandson of Brooke’s close friends Jacques and Gwen Raverat and Charles Bunker is the owner of the Orchard.
Pippa Harris (Now Dame Pippa Harris) said: “Honoured to unveil the Rupert Brooke blue plaque at The Orchard, Grantchester this weekend.”
Mike Read, Tamsin Amour, William Pryor, Dame Pippa Harris and Charles Bunker at the
Two of Brooke’s poems, The Soldier and The Old Vicarage, Grantchester regularly appear in the top ten when Britain votes for its favourite all-time poems.
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some small, corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave once her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace under an English heaven.
The Rupert Brooke Society and Museum were founded at the Orchard, Grantchester in 1999 by Robin Callan, Dr. Peter Miller and Mike Read and officially opened by Brooke’s cousin, Winifred Kinsman.
THE MAGIC CIRCLE
Mike Read, Scott Penrose & Dynamo at the unveiling.
In 2016 a plaque was unveiled to the Magic Circle at Pinoli’s Restaurant, Wardour Street, London, the organisation having been founded there just over 100 years earlier.. In 1905, at a meeting held in the large hall above the renowned Pinoli Restaurant in Wardour Street, 23 amateur and professional magicians formed a new magic club that was to become The Magic Circle. The meeting was chaired by the wonderfully named Belgian magician Servais Le Roy. Fast forward a hundred years to Wednesday April 13th 2016,and hundreds of magicians and members of the public gathered outside what was Pinoli’s at 17 Wardour Street, to celebrate this momentous occasion with the unveiling of a British Plaque Trust, blue plaque.
The event was attended by Scott Penrose, the president of The Magic Circle, Dynamo who performed the unveiling and hundreds of members of the Magic Circle who attended the post-unveiling celebrations, including David Berglas, Marvin Berglas, Fay Presto, Andrew Eborn, the |British Plaque Trust’s Ian Freeman and with the magazine Magic Daily reporting on the action
Norwood Jewish Orphanage
Later in 2016 a plaque was unveiled on the site of the Norwood Jewish Orphanage.
A proud moment for all those connected with the orphanage. Local dignitaries and Norwood Old Scholars and their families gathered at the West Norwood Health and Leisure Centre on Sunday for the unveiling of a Blue Plaque, marking the site of the original Norwood Orphanage. Built in 1866 the Norwood Orphanage educated and cared for hundreds of Jewish children, both those born in the UK and refugees from Europe. Its aim was to prepare the children for life in the community, offering education and apprenticeships. In the sixties, the charity began to place children in smaller, family type homes, and the orphanage was demolished in 1961. It is estimated over 8,000 Jewish children passed through its doors. An exhibition of archive materials from the orphanage including old letters and photographs is being held at the West Norwood Health and Leisure Centre.
The plaque was officially unveiled by Rev Alan Greenblatt OBE, Norwood Orphanage’s
former deputy head and Chair of the Norwood Old Scholars Association. He was joined on stage by Jack Mathews, President of the Norwood Old Scholars Association, 103-year- old Kitty Freund, former ‘Norwood Scholar’, Martin Rayment, Norwood’s Compliance Manager and archivist, Mayor of Lambeth Saleha Jaffer, and Chairman of the British Plaque Trust, Mike Read.
Mike Read, Kitty Freund and the Mayor of lambeth, Cllr, Saleha Jaffer.
Jack Mathews said: “When it opened its doors in 1866, over 200 children were able to call this large purpose-built Victorian building home. These children soon settled in and were quick to appreciate the improvement: a large outdoor playground and underground playground, a dining hall able to accommodate all the children and staff, school rooms with individual desks, a library, large dormitories and a synagogue.”
For Martin Rayment it was also a joyous occasion: “It was wonderful to see such an incredible turnout for the unveiling of the plaque. Through the hundreds of years of Norwood’s existence, thousands upon thousands of people have benefited from the charity’s services. However, this is the place that I always think of as Norwood’s spiritual home, the place that gave us our name. And, although the orphanage itself is no longer here, this blue plaque will serve as a reminder that it is because of the founders of that building we at Norwood are able to carry on the work they started.”
Local ward councillor and Lambeth’s cabinet member for families and young people, Cllr. Jane Pickard, said: “The Jewish Orphanage helped young people from all over the country whose families had fallen on hard times. They came for shelter, food, care and education…and they were well looked after. It is important to ensure that the building will never be forgotten and pay tribute to the great work of the Norwood Old Scholars group and the Norwood charity, who not only keep the memory of the building alive, but continue to support many vulnerable people to this