Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A blue plaque is a sign attached to a house where someone famous once lived (or sometimes where a notable event took place) to commemorate that fact. In England these are often blue-glazed earthenware discs, 19 inches (48 cm) in diameter, with a white border and white text, placed on the exterior of buildings or other places. They mark the building's historic link rather than celebrating the person.
English Heritage's scheme
Under main scheme, run by English Heritage, nominations are taken from the public for people that have been dead for at least 20 years or were born 100 years ago, whichever is earlier. The criteria for deserving a plaque were set in 1954 and include eminence; having made an "important positive contribution"; "exceptional and outstanding personalities"; and deserving of national recognition. If a person meets these criteria, a plaque may be placed on a building to which they have a link. There is only one plaque for any individual.
The official blue plaque scheme in London was set up in 1867, celebrating Byron's Holles Street residence. Initially the scheme was run by the Royal Society of Arts, it was transferred to the London County Council in 1901 and later the GLC. When the Greater London Council was disbanded in 1985, following the Local Government Act of 1985, English Heritage took on the role. English Heritage places around twenty new plaques each year. The scheme extended to other parts of the UK in 1998, with the first plaques being unveiled in Liverpool in 2000. Other cities involved are Birmingham, Portsmouth and Southampton. The scheme has been adapted and used worldwide. The Royal Society of Arts placed thirteen plaques, the London County Council 249 and the GLC 262; there are currently over 800. Many of the building which had plaques have been subsequently demolished. The oldest surviving plaque is in Gerrard Street and dates from 1875. The early plaques were dark brown, the current design dates from 1937, with the white border added in 1939.
Several similar schemes operate (a few with different coloured plaques), often run by Civic Societies or local history groups, and occasionally with different criteria. See External links below.
- London blue plaque scheme (allows you to search addresses)
- English Heritage's list of Blue Plaque sites
- List of blue plaque schemes in other areas
- Blue Plaques of Muslim London (current and proposed plaques for London Muslims)
- HandHeldHistory; WAP guide to London's plaques
- London blue plaques (more links)
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