Saturday, 14 July 2007

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



So this is my first blog post for www.blueplaquelondon.co.uk. 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.


2 comments:

Fabprints.Com said...

Would it be possible to place a Blue Plaque on Louis Wain 1860-1939 place of birth or place of work or place of death?

Below is an article I have written which may help concerning his life story.

Louis Wain 1860-1939 FunnyCats Art


Louis Wain was born in London’s Clerkenwell district in 1860 and eventually became an artist, selling his sketches of dog shows to the Illustrated Sporting News. He married his youngest sister's governess, Emily Richardson, which was considered quite scandalous at the time.

Louis William Wain studied at the West London School of Art, and began his career as an art journalist. However, it was for his pictures of cats that he eventually became famous. From the 1880s until the outbreak of the First World War, the ‘Louis Wain cat’ was hugely popular. Appearing in prints, books, magazines, post-cards and annuals, Wain’s cats are to be found engaging in every form of human activity - from playing cricket, digging up roads, and riding bicycles, to parading the latest fashions at Ascot and making pompous after-dinner speeches at the club.

His wife contracted breast cancer and died three years later. To entertain her on her sickbed, Wain started drawing their cat, Peter. Emily encouraged him to send these drawings to newspapers and magazines, and soon the Louis Wain cat was a household name, not only in Britain but also in America, where his comics and drawings of cats appeared in several newspapers.

Louis Wain was elected as President of the National Cat Club and wrote the book 'In Animal Land with Louis Wain' in 1904. Wain continued drawing cats for newspapers and children’s books until he fell victim to schizophrenia in 1917 at the age of 57 ( He fell off an Omnibus and hit his head ).

During the onset of his disease at 57, Wain continued to paint, draw and sketch cats, but the focus changed from fanciful situations, to focus on the cats themselves. Characteristic changes in the art began to occur, changes common to schizophrenic artists. Jagged lines of bright color began emanating from his feline subjects. The outlines of the cats became sever and spiky, and their outlines persisted well throughout the sketches, as if they were throwing off energy.

Coupled with WWI and the public dwindling interest it cats, Wain soon fell into poverty and in June 1924, he was certified insane and committed to Springfield Hospital (the former Surrey County Asylum) at Tooting.
‘Discovered’ by a hospital visitor the following year, he was transferred to Bethlem Hospital. after a campaign by admirers of his work, including the Prime Minister Ramsey Macdonald,King George & H.G.Wells a foundation was set up for him which enabled Wain to spend the last years of his life in comfort in private asylums in Southwark and Napsbury, where he continued to paint and draw his cats. The Hospital was at that time at St George’s Fields, Southwark.

In 1930 Louis Wain was transferred to Napsbury Hospital , near St Albans . He continued drawing until near the end of his life, and exhibitions of his work were held in London in 1931 and 1937. He died at Napsbury on 4 July 1939. Louis wain is buried at Kensal Green Cemetary London in the same buriel plot as his family. Alas, the plot is now very neglected.

I am a collector and seller of Louis Wain 1860-1939 Funny Cats and Dogs on Fine ArtPrints. My aim is to spread the name and humour of a great Cat,Dog and Animal Artist.


If you would like to see some of his work please visit my hobby website. My collection totals 100+ Pictures which are on display at my website:**** http://www.geocities.com/fabprints2/LW.html *******

Richie Remote said...

I went to the unveiling of the Luke Howard plaque, back in April 2002 - Michael Fish, the retired BBC weatherman, did the honours, and there were several of Howard's descendents there, too. English Heritage had had some difficulty in tracing the leaseholder of the building, which has stood empty for some time, apart from a dodgy minicab firm in the basement (which is presumably there without permission).
But the best view of the plaque, which is fixed quite high up the wall, is from the top deck of one of the many buses that thunder down Bruce Grove all day long!
Good idea for a blog, by the way.
Richard H