Weston-super-Mare Town Council has launched a blue plaque scheme to recognise past residents or visitors who have made significant contributions to local, national or international life.
Though a few commemorative plaques already exist in Weston the first Town Council sponsored blue plaque was unveiled on 30th March at the Imperial Pub where four times gold medal water polo and swimming Olympian Paulo Radmilovic had been publican.
The Town Council has drawn up a list of twelve further blue plaque nominees and is asking the public to place them in rank order so that a succession of plaques might be unveiled. A short biography of each of the recipients is on the Weston Mercury website (www.thewestonmercury.co.uk), where you can also vote for as many of the 12 as you like, but you can only vote for each person once. The voting is open for one month.
This list is by no means exhaustive and the Town Council welcomes suggestions for other nominations. Though some well-known characters such as John Cleese and Jeffrey Archer are Westonians the Town Council has decided only the deceased will be commemorated with blue plaques.
Some people are already recognised in various ways. Jill Dando has Jill’s Garden and Prof Sir Arthur Eddington, Earl Alexander of Hillsborough, Capt George Day VC, and novelist Mary Webb already have have plaques on their former homes.
The new list falls into four categories:
Hans Fowler Price (1835-1912) Architect responsible for much of Weston’s Victorian development. Notable buildings include Wadham Street Baptist Church (now Blakehay Theatre), Bristol Road Baptist Church, large parts of the Boulevard including the Mercury office, Walliscote School and the School of Science & Art in Lower Church Road, and the former Library and Royal Hospital. He designed his own home – in Trewartha Park – where he died
John Hugh Smyth-Pigott (1792-1853) Lord of the Manor. The family lived in Grove House when Grove Park was their private front garden. This squire created woodland on Worlebury Hill with a toll road skirting the cliff face and castle-style gate lodge. He not only much extended Grove House but also re-built St John’s Parish Church.
Henry Butt (1861-1944) First mayor of Weston. A self-made businessman with interests in quarrying and property conversions he helped pay for the Winter and Italian Gardens and raised all the capital necessary to build a new hospital in the Boulevard. He also founded Worlebury Goilf Club. He lived in Eastfield Park
Dr Edward Long Fox (1791-1835) Forward-thinking psychiatrist built medicinal baths and spa on Knightstone Island. Dr Fox’s Tearoom stands alongside his original bathhouse and Weston Hospital’s psychiatric unit is named after him
Weston’s arts and cultural personalities
Deborah Kerr (1921-2007) Six times Academy Award-nominated actress lived in Elmsleigh Road and attended Rossholm School
Ivy Millicent James (1897-1965) Artist and suffragette. Studied Weston School of Art. Her illustrated cards are now very collectable. Lived in Grove Park Road
Bob Hope (1903-2003) Comedian and actor. Appeared in over 70 films. Lived for a short time as a baby in Orchard Street and, Southend Road whilst his father worked as a stonemason on the seawall.
Roald Dahl (1916-1990) Author of many popular children’s books. Pupil at St Peter’s School – a site now occupied by St Peter’s Avenue.
Alfred Leete (1882-1933) Artists and graphgic designed who produced the most iconic First World War poster ‘Your Country needs You’. Parents ran the Addington Hotel and he attended Kingsholm School and possibly Weston School of Art
Emmeline Pethwick-Lawrence (1867-1954) Suffragette and founder-publisher of ‘Votes for Women’. Imprisoned for attempting to make a speech in Parliament. She and her suffragette co-founder Emmeline Pankhurst disagreed about the use of violent protest. Born at Trewartha, Bristol Road upper.
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) The Supreme Allied Commander Europe during World War ll visited American troops camped in Weston in the build-up to D-Day. ‘Ike’ stayed one night but, rather than sleep in hotel comfort, he opted for a military caravan parked by the water tower in Weston Woods.
Haile Selassie (1891-1975) Emperor of Ethiopia. The British rescued Haile Selassie following the Italian invasion of his country and throughout the war he lived in Bath. He enjoyed visiting Weston and was a particular fan of the Open Air Pool and even though a king he always insisted on joining the queue and chatting to other visitors telling them he was a grateful guest in Britain.
Head to the Weston Mercury website to have your say on which person gets a Blue Plaque next!