We have been continuing to review our blue plaques scheme, including where we might have new plaques and of current plaques in need of replacement.
Current plaques needing replacement
After receiving a report on the existing plaques, the Civic Society committee has prioritised two as in most urgent need of replacement. Both contain factual errors and one is in poor condition.
Top priority is probably that on the Bowling Green which is in a very poor state and repeats the oft quoted 13th century bowling green claim – which is not correct – though it is undoubtedly an early example of a green. Our decision to prioritise this plaque must not be seen as some form of singling out the bowling club for undue attention. It is based on the very poor condition of the plaque and simply that the information it contains is not correct. We think we have a duty to make sure our plaques are factually correct and in good condition.
The second plaque in our replacement priorities is that on the former Peacock Inn on Low Pavement – which claims it might have been a Mediaeval Guildhall – which is also not correct.
We believe that both sites on which the plaques have been erected are in Borough Council ownership, which should make the task of replacement a little less difficult – once possible funding streams have been identified.
There is another plaque which has incorrect information on it that we would also like to replace – though this is of much less priority than the first two. This is fixed to the former Falcon Inn – now the Barnsley Building Society. Unfortunately, the description that the building was a former coaching inn is not correct. As yet we have not developed any plan to try and get this plaque replaced.
Plaques in progress
The survey we carried out lists 20 Civic Society plaques in total, but not all are fitted. These include a plaque – for the Stephenson Memorial Hall – awaiting completion of refurbishment works; one to replace the inaccurate plaque on North Midland House (near the railway station); a new plaque for the Portland Hotel (also commemorating the now demolished Market Place station which was next door) and a replacement for the so-called Bishop Secker’s House plaque on New Square. All these are manufactured and pending installation. The plaques for North Midland House and The Portland Hotel were grant aided by the East Midlands Railway Community Fund
The renaissance of our blue plaques scheme in recent years is mainly due to the efforts of our former Chairman Philip Riden.
New plaque priorities
The committee are also considering where our priorities might be for new plaques. At its November meeting it was decided to look at the following for possible sites of new plaques:
- Chesterfield Football Club stadium – to commemorate the establishment of ‘walking football’ – now a popular sport in the UK and abroad.
- Eastwood Park and the Eastwood family – at Eastwood Park, Hasland. (The family were industrialists and great benefactors to the town).
- Violet Markham – possibly sited on Burlington House near Church Way – the site of ‘The Settlement’ that she established.
- Raymond Unwin and Barry Parker – on 87 New Square where one of them lived. (Both were in an architectural partnership which created practical designs for ‘garden cities’ such as Letchworth – Unwin was later knighted for his services to town planning).
Two other suggestions were put on hold for the time being – a plaque marking the life and work of Edward Carpenter, alongside one covering the history of the Nags Head public house and immediate area at Newbold.
It is perhaps easier to suggest new plaques than to follow them through to final fixing. Such issues as where the plaque might go, gaining permission for it to be erected, along with financing (each plaque costs around £640 plus installation), are just some of the challenges to be resolved.
Our next steps are to ensure that the plaques on North Midland House, The Portland Hotel and ‘Bishop Secker’s House’ are fitted.
All the issues identified are to be addressed in a project plan to look at how the exiting unfitted, possible additional and the replacement plaques might be progressed.
We will also be looking to update our website’s blue plaque interactive map.