The Blue Plaque Scheme
The Royal Society launched the Blue Plaques scheme in 1867 with the unveiling of a “commemorative tablet” for Lord Byron. Thirty-five were erected by 1901 but less than half now survive, with Napoleon III the earliest plaque left. The London County Council replaced them in 1901, with Kensington’s very own Lord Macaulay amongst their first plaques. 1901 to 1938 was a time of experimentation with designs including ribbons and wreathes, bronze, lead and stone and shapes like squares and rectangles. A simple, blue, ceramic Doulton disc was chosen in 1938 and the blue plaque was born. Up until the London County Council was abolished in 1965 they had unveiled over 250 plaques. Next came the Greater London Council. During a brief reign from 1965 to 1986 they erected an incredible 262 plaques.
English Heritage took over in the London Scheme in 1986 and still run the show today. It celebrates the links between notable figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked. Responsible for over 200 new plaques and overseeing increasingly more every year, the scheme continues to go from strength to strength. it has inspired many similar schemes in the UK and around the world.
Oxton’s first new Blue Plaque.
Conservation Areas Wirral launched their Blue Plaque scheme in 2016 .Oxton’s own scheme, in partnership with CAW was launched in July 2017 with the unveiling of our first plaque to honour Brigadier Sir Philip Toosey at his former home in Rose Mount, Oxton. The ceremony was by two former prisoners of war commemorating their commanding officer – Gunners Maurice Naylor, 96, from Leicester and Fergus Anckorn, 98, from Sussex and was attended by family, friends and members of the Oxton Society.
Sir Philip was the war hero played by Sir Alec Guinness in big screen epic, Bridge on the River Kwai. A full report on the day and further background on Sir Philip can be seen here in the November 2017 edition of the Newsletter.
Blue Plaque for Edith Smith
Edith Smith, who was the first woman to become a warranted police officer, was born and bred in Oxton. She lived in 18 Palm Hill where members of the Oxton Society and their guests assembled on June 16th to unveil our second Blue Plaque. Edith made her mark in Grantham where she looked after the welfare of the town’s young women given the proximity of army barracks at Catterick.
The ceremony was attended by Courtney Finn from the Grantham Civic Society, who helped with Edith’s biog, and members of her family, including her granddaughter, Margaret Smith who unveiled the plaque. Guests were welcomed by Rhiannon Evans, the chair of the Oxton Society and Bob Knowles who gave a short talk on Edith’s career. Bob has produced a pamphlet on Edith, available from Oxton Books in the Williamson.