Nominations open for our Southwark Blue Plaques

Kevin Quinn (28 November, 2019) Culture

The scheme came about after the News and Southwark Heritage Association tried to find a way around English Heritage’s strict criteria, that a building must be standing and the person dead for them to qualify

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For the past sixteen years the News is proud to have been one of the founders of the Blue Plaque scheme here in Southwark and nominations are now open for next year.

After nominations have been vetted and checked, a shortlist will be drawn up for people to vote on.

The scheme came about after the News and Southwark Heritage Association tried to find a way around English Heritage’s strict criteria, that a building must be standing and the person dead for them to qualify.

The latter was not really a problem, but the idea that so much of our rich heritage could not be recognised because a building was no longer there was not acceptable to us. Much of our physical heritage was destroyed in the Blitz, but it is perhaps the 1960s and ‘70s architects who did the most damage. So, we invited Southwark Council to join us in drawing up our own Blue Plaques and getting local people to vote. There are now well over 50 blue plaques across the borough.

Our scheme has allowed the likes of Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer and Charlie Chaplin to be honoured on our streets, but also less well-known historical figures like Phyllis Pearsall, the inventor of the A-Z. In 1935, Pearsall couldn’t find her way to a party in Belgravia so decided to make a completely new map of London, which she did by getting up at 5am each morning and walking every one of London’s 23,000 streets – a distance of 3,000 miles. The result was the A-Z, the first street atlas of London.

Phyllis Pearsall, born in 1906

Dulwich Village’s Grafton Dance Hall, the historic home of ballroom dancing in London once owned by ballroom supremoes Bob Burgess and Doreen Freeman waltzed to victory in to secure the latest blue plaque.

The dance studio on Village Way won the public vote by a landslide – and more than a thousand votes ahead of runner-up Rotherhithe born entertainer Max Bygraves.

Grafton Dance Centre today, viewed from Village Way

Doreen Freeman with Victor Silvester, on BBC Dancing Club

Backed by stars from TV hit show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ an announcement on the unveiling of the latest plaque is due to be announced.

To nominate a person, place or event you can email editor@southwarknews.co.uk or admin@southwark.org.uk with a brief explanation of the historic importance of your nomination

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