Tales from the City- London’s Fading Blue Plaque

Sometimes a places gets the recognition on the round blue disc.

Sometimes a places gets the recognition on the round blue disc.

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.

English: Blue plaque on no 48 Doughty Street, ...

English: Blue plaque on no 48 Doughty Street, London WC1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About susan sheldon nolen

It’s rare to catch me without coffee, a form of camera, or my beloved wire fox terriers. I love the history, the art, and it’s a massive part of my life, as I either paint, write, or get interrupted by my dogs, reminding me of the real world. I hope you enjoy your time here. It’s such a privilege to have readers.
This entry was posted in Tales From The City and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Tales from the City- London’s Fading Blue Plaque

  1. 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! 😉

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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! 🙂

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s