Ever walked around London or watched something filmed in the city and wondered what the blue plaques on buildings are? In this blog, we explore the who, what, where, when and why of the blue plaques when it comes to musicians.
Brief history of the blue plaque
The oldest scheme of its kind in the world, a blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between a famous person and that location or an event that took place there. This historical marker was thought of by William Ewart, a British politician, in 1863.
Following on from the Society of Arts, London City Council and Greater London Council, in 1986 the blue plaques scheme was passed to the English Heritage Trust. English Heritage erected more than 300 plaques in London. Sadly, due to funding restrictions, English Heritage closed the national scheme in 2007 and is now also closing the London scheme.
The British Plaque Trust
In 2009, not to be confused with the official English Heritage Blue Plaque Scheme, ‘Open Plaques’ from the British Plaque Trust was born. 'The museum of the street' as it’s known, is a community-based project. The scheme endorses British success, creativity and innovation throughout history.
The difference between the two is that there was strict criteria to obtaining an English Heritage blue plaque – an example of this being you had to have been dead for at least twenty years, whereas the newer British Plaque Trust scheme wants to make it more accessible and current, leaving around twelve months between someone passing and creating an honoree plaque.
The key objective of the British Plaque Trust is to resurrect the national scheme, which commemorates the lives and successes of notable figures by remembering the places they lived and worked.
In 2013 ex-Radio One DJ Mike Read was involved in working with the British Plaque Trust. In February 2017 the organisation gained huge publicity by getting the BBC involved in choosing forty new plaques for BBC Music Day, which was held in June 2017. Nominations were submitted via Twitter under the hashtag #LocalMusicLegends. Unfortunately around the time, the website ex
David Bowie, who died in January 2016, was honoured with three plaques from the BBC thanks to this in Soho, Central London; Maidstone, Kent; and Hull.
Nowadays, anyone can erect a plaque as long as they have the building owner's permission, it isn't a listed building, and are prepared to pay for it to be made.
There are quite a few plaques around the area local to Broughton Pianos. We love The Piano Building (plaque 1952) in Kidderminster, for obvious reasons!
It was built as a wool warehouse in 1867. The north wall followed the curve of the historic ‘Sling’ cart way and from above the building it resembled a grand piano.
Next time you come and visit us, you should check it out and see how many others you can spot.
Did you know?
There are fake blue plaques out there. There are lots of humorous, some slightly inappropriate, fake blue plaques for people such as Brian Harvey, Rick Mayall and even a Twitter user! Nowadays they’ve become so popular; you can even design your own personal blue plaque online.
What’s your favourite plaque? Want to know more? On the Open Plaques website you can find an A-Z list of all plaques. You can buy the 'London Plaques - 5 Fascinating Walks' book too, which features the Central London areas of Mayfair, Marylebone and St James's. You can also search for English Heritage plaques on their website