As many readers know, BMS E-News has frequently featured blue plaques celebrating British musicians. Now, the government is suggesting a single nationwide system could be rolled out to enable more blue plaques in England.
The original ‘blue plaque’ scheme began in London more than 150 years ago and has been run by English Heritage. Since then, thousands of blue plaques have been installed by hundreds of different organisations and councils across the country
The government’s arts and heritage minister Lord Parkinson said London’s blue plaques were ‘world-renowned. People everywhere should be able to celebrate the figures who have shaped their community – which is why we are seeking to extend this opportunity across the country, to allow people and buildings from anywhere in England to be nominated,’ he said.
An amendment has been tabled to the government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill – which will be debated in the House of Lords – to change the way the current London blue plaque system works.
In London, English Heritage is currently in charge of strict rules over who gets one. This includes:
- recipients must have been dead for at least 20 years
- they must have lived at the location for either a long time, or
- they must have lived at the location when writing a seminal work.
But outside of London there is no such criteria and might include plaques – blue or otherwise – for more fleeting visits from famous people. For example, a plaque in Norwich marks the day in 1971 when Muhammad Ali visited a supermarket as part of a promotional tour by Ovaltine!
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is suggesting Historic England should run the scheme across England, while English Heritage will continue to deliver it in London.
‘We want to help people feel a stronger connection to the history all around us and shine a light on the people and places of the past which have made us who we are,’ said Historic England’s Chief Executive Duncan Wilson CBE.
What do you think? Is it a good idea to standardise the blue plaque scheme nationally? And what about Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland? Perhaps you know of a location nearby which was associated with the British musician which is not yet recognised? Let us know by emailing us at email@example.com