I like wandering about. When I do, it’s always great fun to look up and see a blue disc above a doorway, informing me that this is where Charles Dickens lived, this is where Pepys ate lunch. It gives one a sense of belonging to the past.
It’s a brilliant idea that started in the 1860’s and now in the age of austerity it looks as if this little blue plaque might go the same way of many things so typically British into the memory bins of the past. I hope not. English Heritage took over the scheme and has now announced the end of the programme. With so many people visiting London, I have to ask, why must this practice fade away?
The Blue Plaque has lasted 147 years, having its birth in 1866 when William Ewart and Henry Cole, and the Royal Society of Arts erected the round discs, the first being in 1867 for Lord Byron. A fitting candidate So from 1866- 2013, I suppose that’s been a good run.
In order to have one of these little blue discs put up in one’s honour, the person had to be dead for twenty years and be considered important in their field, having contributed to the human condition in a positive way. They might have lived in the building or spent some time there. Curiously Shakespeare who lived and worked in London, never did get a bit of blue. Odd I think…
Regardless of who gets a blue plaque, London will lose something if the blue disc is to be lost forever. I am hoping that somehow English Heritage will find a way to save this little bit of our history.
Abandoning the blue disks is just plain shortsighted, if you ask me! Especially in and around London, where most tourists congregate and since tourism still generates considerable income it would be lunacy to do away with such important historical signposts for all to use and learn from!
I so agree. I am waiting to hear if they are just going to stop all new discs and leave the ones that are already up well alone and hope that the owner of the property will take care of the plaques? I was gutted when I heard the news. It makes a city feel like home and well…we all love to snoop a bit on other people’s lives! 😉
Well indeed – it seems to me you should all get up in arms!
I would think this would be a nice thing for tourists and locals alike. Seems a shame to have it go by the wayside. I wonder what the thinking is behind their removal.
Hi Carrie, I think it is just the cost of making the disc and mounting it onto the building, insurance, damage to the building etc..all the modern worries we plague ourselves with. I seriously hope the old ones stay up!
I found one of those to mark where Nancy Mitford worked in a bookshop. I actually squealed out loud. I hope they will find a way to keep them. They are much more appealing than our horrible signs.
Nancy Mitford!! Oh what fun! ( I didn’t know she worked in a bookshop… something to go look into now!) I wonder what other cities do?
Here’s what Charleston, South Carolina (where I live) does: http://www.preservationsociety.org/program_historicmarkers.asp
Much more unsightly. 🙂
Thanks Andra! Those really look large! Almost like an advertisement board of sorts, but better than nothing! I am not sure where I was in America but they had little bronze shield like plaques…those I kinda liked, but I have to say there is just something cheerful about the blue discs!
Hi Susan, I read in the newspaper that the blue discs were being cancelled, and I thought that it wasn’t a good idea at the time. They’re quite handy actually, and make a building more of a building when you know who was there before – not that I’ve seen that many of them, I must add. I agree with you, and I hope they find away to let them stay!
I haven’t heard any good news yet. It’s such a shame…like selling off the red phone boxes, and the red double decker buses. I know costs and all that. ( That was the reason behind the phone boxes, the glass was constantly being vandalized.) And of course with the phone boxes….The mobile phone has truly killed those now. It’s hard when these are iconic images of London and people expect to see them when they come to the city. But I suppose the city itself is a living thing and not a museum…. although you know me…I wouldn’t mind a combination of both! 🙂