Saturday, 15 September 2007

Blue Plaque Birthday Card

Just a quick post to show the birthday card that my sister Hester made me. Thanks Hes x

Friday, 17 August 2007

These three blue plaques are all very close to each other at number 3, 7 & 12 Hammersmith Terrace. The terrace itself is architecturally interesting, although they sit on the river like urban town houses, when the houses were built Hammersmith and Chiswick were on the very outskirts of London. You can read more about it at Emery Walkers Site.

Number 3, was the former home of Edward Johnston, Master Caligrapher. Millions of Londoners and visitors to the city see his most famous work every day. Edward Johnston designed the font that London Underground uses across all it's literature and signage he also redesigned the very familiar london underground logo.

Emery Walker lived at Number 7 and worked with Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson at Doves Press (Cobde-Sanderson actually lived in the house first) Emery was also a friend of William Morris, the pioneer of the Arts and crafts movement.

And finally Number12 which was the home of Sir Alan Herbert. He was a politician, playwright, poet and author of more than 50 books. His humor was often aimed at the legislators of the day. He was a great law reformer and successfully campaigned for changes to be made to the law regarding divorce. Up until then for a divorce to be granted one party would have to prove that the other had been adulterous.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Route home from work (the long way) part 1

With over 800 English Heritage Blue Plaques in London you can expect to see them on journeys that you take regularly. I commute 12 miles to work, from NE London to SW London every day. I usualy take public transport but I often cycle too. I had look at my usual route and decided to get the blue plaques that are either on my cycle route home or just off it.

The first is just around the corner from my work at 14 The Terrace, Barnes, SW13. Dame Ninette Valois lived here for 20 years between 1962 and 1982. Cited as being almost singlehandedly responsible for British ballet , she founded the Royal Ballet School in 1931. A couple of doors up is a private, non english heritage plaque for the composer Gustav Holst. I didn't photo this as i'm trying just to get the offical plaques, otherwise i'll be doing this for the rest of my life.

The next stop was over Hammersmith Bridge to the pathway the runs along the Thames. The first plaque here was for George Devine a theatrical manager and producer who lived here for 9 years in the late fifties/early sixties i'd imagine that he would have known Dame Ninette Valois as they were both in very similar circles and there seems to be a connection with Sadlers Wells.

On the othe side of Furnival Gardens is the former residence of Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson, a lovely little house tucked away but with, what I would imgine is a tremouse view of the Thames. Next door is the pub The Dove which, insanely, is where "Rule, Brittania" was written!

A hundred feet or so up the river was the home of the artist Eric Ravilious who lived here for 4 years. You can see some example of his work on his grandsons webpage I really regret not getting a better picture of the house as this brick wall doesn't really convay much about the person that lived here

Next stop on the bike was 51 Queen Caroline Street, W6 the home of Sir Frank Brangwyn, also an artist. He probably new Cobden-Sanderson as they both knew William Morris. You can see some examples of his work here

Back onto my normal way home round Hammersmith roundabout and then up Hammersmith Road. I took a right onto Brook Green to get a photo of the home of another artist named Frank. This one was the etcher and engraver, Sir Frank Short who lived at number 56 Brookgreen.

After cycling up High Street Ken and dodging shoppers I caught up with a blue plaque on the other side of Hyde Park that I had seen a couple of times but had yet to photo. Apologies that the photo isn't that good but i found the Thames Water sign in front of the house explaining that the road was closed due to the work they were undertaking fixing the "ageing network" of Londons Victorian water mains in front of one of the periods most famous writers too good to miss. J.M. Barrie the celebrated author of Peter Pan lived at 100 Bayswater Road. It was here that he first met the three boys, George, Jack and Peter Llewelyn Davies, the sons of his neighbours Arthur and Sylvia Lleweln Davies. The boys would become his inspiration for the Peter Pan characters and he referred to George as the real Peter Pan, who like so many of his generation died in the trenches during the first world war aged only 21.

Next i was planning on heading straight up to my final plaque of the day but instead of my usual route, over Marble Arch and then down Oxford St I decided to cut through the back and in doing so caught a couple of surprise plaques.

Almost straight away I came acroos the House of the architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who had designed and lived in this house between 1926-1960.

A minute later I had chanced uponthe plaque to the Ballerina Marie Taglioni who lived here for just a year between 1875 and 1876. Seems like a very short time, but i guess the career of a ballerina is a short one.

Next was the home of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson who lived at 20 Upper Berkeley Street and was the first Engishwoman to qualify as a doctor. I had hoped you would be able to make out the writing on the window of the clinic next door advertising Chinese Medicine and Homeopathy.

The last house that i hadn't planned to visit was another architect that of George Emund Street who's most famous work is the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand.

The last trip of the day was suggested to my by a friend as he used to live there! It's the home of the most famous of all the clowns Joseph Grimaldi, 56 Exmouth Market. It's good to see that entertainment has remained at the heart of the building as it now a video (DVD?) shop.

Apologies for the photo but I had just ridden 12 miles and i think the guy I asked to take it was a little bit taken aback.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Four New Blue Plaques NW5

OK, this was another weekend blue plaque visit, I'm going to try and up the amount I'm visiting during the week otherwise I'll still be doing this for approximately another four years

I was going to try and see a couple on Saturday down in Putney as I was visiting friends in the area but I ended up working on the Blue Plaque Website all day instead, whilst Jess read the new Harry Potter. Those are on the backburner for now, but it'll be a good excuse to visit my Putney pals again soon.

On Sunday we were meeting Jess's step mum, Jane Ogden for a meal in the evening so we invited her along for a bit of blue plaque spotting during the afternoon. We arranged to meet in Kentish town for lunch and headed up to a pub called The Pineapple mainly as I had seen a stop motion animation video featuring it on youtube and was feeling a bit web 2.0, mixing up the online and offline to create what I call Web 2.go. See it online and then go see the real thing.

After a great meal we headed off to the first spot. Burghley Road is a quite residential road just off Fortress Rd in Kentish town. We found the plaque about half way up ,dedicated to Kwame Nkrumah the first president of Ghana.

For a man that accomplished so much in his life, it was an extremely normal looking home, but I imagine that I will see this again again and again over the coming months.

We nearly couldn't see the next plaque as it almost completely obscured by scaffolding, but standing on a railing on the other side of the street I managed to take this shot. This was the home of the painter Ford Maddox Brown who lived here from around 1855 he worked with Dante Gabriel Rossetti. You can see an example of some of Ford Madoxs' work here

Those were the only two in north NW5 so we headed back down past Kentish town tube to the property I'd been most looking forward to all day.

George Orwell lived at 50 Lawford Road from 1935 to 1936. Having read 1984 as a teenager I had been really keen to see something more of the man that had first made me enjoy reading for pleasure. During his time here he finished another one of his most famous works, Keep the Aspidistra Flying

Just around the corner was our last stop of the day, Camden School for Girls. The blue plaque here to to recognise the work of Frances Mary Buss who was headmistress here from 1879- 1894. She is remembered for her work pioneering the right for an equal education for women.

Adam suggested I add a link to the Plaques I've been to see. So here you go

Not a bad weekends Blue plaquing, but must try harder during the week

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

OK, feeling a bit bad about not updating the blog since last Saturday but am aiming to get a few in this week as I've inadvertently found quite a few on my daily commute to work.

Anyway, the last blue plaques that I went to visit were all local quick wins. We were off to visit some friends in Hertfordshire and had an hour or so in the morning spare. After figuring out where they were on google maps I jotted the addresses down and we hopped on the bikes and headed down to the first of the five I hoped to find.

Currently a branch of Waterstones, 10-11 IslingtonGreen, is the former Collins Music Hall. During its heyday from 1885 onwards the biggest stars of the day inclusding Arthur Lloyd

Just around the corner is the former house of Charles Lamb, 64 Duncan Terrace, who is also known as Elia (Elia being the pen name he used as a contributer to The London Magazine). He lived here with his sister who had been placed in his care after she had murdered their mother in a fit of madness. During his time working at East India House, on being told by his bosses that he was always late to arrive, he would quip "Yes, but see how early I leave!"

*update 20-07-2007 (note the date!) I have just found some audio recordings of Charles Lambs work that you can listen to here

A couple of minutes on the bike later saw us outside 4 Claremont Square this was the home of Edward Irving, founder of the Catholic Apostolic Church. Of all the five this was the least impressive being just off a very busy road and in desparate need of a lick of paint.

If the previous one was pretty unimpressive 25 Highbury Place stands statesman like overlokking Highbury Fields. The home of Joseph Chamberlain the former Politician and father of the prime minister to be, Neville Chamberlain, I've walked past the property dozens of times without ever noticing the dark brown, square plaque that sits on the front of the building.

This was a flying visit but very interesting to see Highbury and Islingtons blue plaques that are only minutes from our home.

After a great night we headed over to our hosts pub, The Vine in Ware for some lunch and a few drinks before heading back to london. On the walk home after getting off at stoke newington we passed a pub called The Daniel Defoe and looking up I saw that the adjacent road was called Defoe Road, it was Jess that pointed out his blue plaque high above what is now a dry cleaners on the corner of Defoe Road and Stoke Newington Church St. Real proof that even when you go out looking for Londons History it will still throw up a few surprises!

Saturday, 14 July 2007

The First Blue Plaque Visit - Luke Howard "Namer of Clouds"

So this is my first blog post for I wanted to start the site and the blog as I've always felt a strong affinity with London's history, and it seems to me that their are few better, representations of this than English Heritages blue plaque scheme. Over the next year or so I hope to be able to make a personal visit to the 800+ buildings that have been home or work to the people deemed by English heritage to have met it's tough criteria.

So last Friday, 6th July 2007 Jess and I headed up to Tottenham Hale to visit the plaque of Luke Howard "The namer of clouds" I'd never heard his name before and was very surprised by what an important contribution he had made to our heritage and the world of meteorology. In 1803 Luke Howard published a paper called Essay on the Modification of Clouds in which he outlined what he thought should be the process for classifying clouds. So the names that we are all familiar with today, such as, stratus, cirrus and cumulus began to be used across the world to
describe the different formations in the sky.

The visit was a bit upsetting, in that the house has fallen into a state of disrepair, with broken windows and lots of surrounding it. It would be nice to see such a historic building being treated as well as it treated it's most famous resident as Luke Howard went on to live until the ripe old age of 91!

After the photos we took a walk up near the Lockwood reservoir. The sky was so huge up there it was easy to imagine Luke Howard stood in the very same spot 200 years ago looking up in to the sky planning his groundbreaking paper.

In the second photo below you can just make out Canary Wharf between the two pylons in the centre of the shot.