Friday, September 13, 2013

Plaque-ing Interesting

Doing a spot of historic plaque spotting on our travels.

Travelling around as much as Emily and I do its inevitable things leap out of the surrounding area and catch our eye.

While we are primarily interested in visiting each and every seaside in the UK (175 and counting) and all of the country’s Miniature Golf courses (currently at 536) over the years our interest has been piqued by a wide-range of other bits and pieces.

From funny signs to interesting places, missing letters to brown tourist signs, bollards to bun throwingabandoned shoes to Bar Billiards tables, and wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men to milestones we’ve spotted and done a lot of very different things on our thousands upon thousands of miles of road trips around the British Isles.

The latest ‘thing’ that’s piqued our interest is Plaques.

Last year I bought a book called 'Signs of life', by Dave Askwith and Alex Normanton, that contained photos of spoof signs and mock street furniture the pair had created and put up around the country. One of the photos showed a faux 'English Heritage' Blue Plaque commemorating the ‘famous’ Jacob von Hogflume (1864-1909) – a noted Time Traveller who lived at the site of the blue plaque in Golden Square, London in the year 2063! Oh yes he exists, he’s even on twitter so he must be real.

Sadly when I visited the location in the book the plaque was no longer there, instead I snapped this legitimate blue plaque put up by English Heritage.

A Blue Plaque
The Marquess of Pombal lived here. Jacob Von Hogflume will live there in the future

From there I found the Open Plaques website and online resource (with a very active Twitter and Facebook presence).

Historic plaques come in a number of shapes, sizes and colours, and act as historical markers commemorating links between famous people or events. There is a range of criteria as to how one gets installed and by who, and we’ve spotted a lot of different types on our travels. One of my favourite ‘spots’ to date was in Enfield, Middlesex recently.

Me and the plaque that commemorates Reg 'Stan Butler' Varney's use of the world's first cash machine in Enfield!

Ahead of our visit I’d consulted the excellent Londonist website for ideas of places to go and things to see in Enfield. As well as the great riverside pub – The Crown and Horseshoes – the Londonist article reminded me that Enfield’s branch of Barclay’s bank was the location of the world’s very first cash machine – opened and used by Reg Varney in 1967!

As a big fan of On the Buses I had a chance to see the Reg Varney Star Plaque on the Elstree & Borehamwood Walk of Fame by the train station during the On The Buses Fan Club 40th Anniversary event in 2011 and it was great to follow this up with the chance to have a photo at ‘Stan Butler’s’ cashpoint!

Do check out the Open Plaques website for details of plaques worldwide. If you spot any that aren’t on the site do let them know as they are keen for more contributors.

So far we've spotted a variety of plaques including blue, green, red, black, brown, gold, silver ones; ones that are official, some unofficial; round ones, square ones, rectangular one, oval ones; plain ones and some more fancy. And by the looks of the Open Plaques website and community there are thousands more to find!

As well as the English Heritage plaques we've spotted those put up by the Cecil Court Traders' Association, the Stone Federation, the City of Westminster, Westminster City Council, Hastings Borough Council, the London County Council, Bournemouth Borough Council, Worthing Borough Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Walton Community Forum, Barnard Council Town Council, The Corporation of the City of London, The Ipswich Society, the Greater London Council, Barclays Bank Plc, Luton Borough Council, the African Caribbean Community Development Forum, the Rotary Clubs of Worthing and Worthing Steyne, Heritage in Sutton and the Republic of Texas!

Here’s a selection of our favourite plaques spotted so far…

Plaque at the headquarters of the Monster Raving Loony Party
At the headquarters of the Monster Raving Loony Party in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales with my World Alternative Games Egg Throwing Championship winning team-mate Jas Kukielka

One of the many plaques on the Barnard Castle Blue Plaque Trail and one of many about Charles Dickens in the UK

A black and gold plaque from the Stone Federation

London's Cecil Court has blue plaques... paper plaques...

...and a green plaque.

"The Concrete King's" plaque in Hastings, East Sussex

Chatham House didn't keep this huge blue plaque quiet

The Old Bank House in Hastings, East Sussex

The Communications Building in London's Leicester Square has two brown plaques for Sir Joshua Reynolds

A fuller view of the lower brown plaque for Sir Joshua Reynolds

An elaborate Corporation of the City of London plaque

The Piece of Cheese Cottage in Hastings, East Sussex

One of The Ipswich Society's new blue plaques

One of a number of plaques about Sir Winston Churchill that can be found around the country

A part of Market Hill on George Street in Luton won a design award in 1998

A rectangular blue plaque in Luton, Bedfordshire

The new Minigolf course in Barnard Castle, County Durham has a plaque in memory of the man responsible for bringing Minigolf to the town

A close-up of the dedication plaque to Alan Wilkinson on the Barnard Castle Minigolf course

The train station in Needham Market, Suffolk has a variety of blue plaques on the station house building

The Tom Cribb pub on Panton Street, near Leicester Square has a blue plaque...

...a blue board/plaque...

...and a gold plaque detailing the history of the pub and the fighter it is named after

Heritage in Sutton has put up quite a few very interesting red plaques around Carshalton

One of the redder red plaques in Carshalton

A small and high up plaque in Hastings' Old Town

The house where T.E. Lawrence lived in Westminster, London

The City of Westminster has a lot of green plaques dotted around the borough

There's an intriguing plaque at Pickering Place in London

A close-up of the Texas Legation gold plaque in London. The Texas Legation was a type of Embassy for the Republic in the 1800's

A black plaque from Westminster City Council on Victoria Street in London

One of Worthing's many plaques

A nice plaque on a nice building in Worthing, West Sussex

Sir Dan Godfrey's blue plaque in Bournemouth, Dorset

A plaque at Enfield train station

Hastings has a Winkle Island

The Pedestrian Shopping Street in Hastings was re-opened by Carry on... star Bernard Bresslaw in 1987! 

The blue plaque at the train station in Walton on the Naze in Essex

A close-up of the Walton Station Hotel blue plaque

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Emily said...

Plaque spotting (blue or otherwise) has now become an active pastime! And a little competitive based on who spots them first ;-)

I wonder if they will put up a plaque for a Ham & Egger? Will the perennial jobber known as Richard Gottfried be recognised for his tireless work in finding, trying, taking part, promoting & supporting the odd, weird and wonderful that make up this blog?

Richard Gottfried said...

Anyone trying to put up a plaque about me would have a hard job.

Where would it go up in Parts Unknown!?