Blue Plaque News

We continue to work on our blue plaque programme, responding to nominations as we they come in.

As we receive quite a few nominations each year, our guiding rule is that for nominations to be taken forward, they should come with funding, or an offer to help raise the necessary funds that we would need. The cost of plaques continues to rise and, allowing for delivery, fixing in place and VAT, the cost of each plaque is now in the region of £550. If you wish to make a nomination for a new blue plaque, please complete our nomination form which can be downloaded from our Blue Plaques page here.

Last year, we received a request from The Rotary Club of Wakefield for a blue plaque to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their first meeting of the club which was held at the Strafford Arms on 3rd June 1921. (The Strafford Arms you see today is a new building but on the same site as the earlier building.)

As the request came with the offer of funding to cover the cost of the plaque, we were delighted to work with members of the Rotary Club in to produce the plaque which has now been unveiled and erected on the Strafford Arms. Our thanks to the Rotary Club and also to the manager of the Strafford Arms who gave permission for the plaque to go on the building.

Rotary Club President Stuart Livesey with Civic Society President Kevin Trickett. Photo – Alison Sykes

The new blue plaque commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Wakefield

We have also been working on our contribution to the Westgate Historic High Street Heritage Action Zone.

As part of that contribution, we have agreed to put up new plaques and restore some of the existing ones that were beginning to look rather tired. To date, we have unveiled one new plaque (to Ann Hurst) and refurbished two old ones (Union Bank and HSBC).

Ann Hurst

The plaque to Ann Hurst, Wakefield’s first female newspaper proprietor and a campaigner against slavery, was delivered by Dream Time Creative as part of their Forgotten Women of Wakefield Project. As part of our partnership with Dream Time Creative, we are seeking to bring about #blueplaqueparity in Wakefield, i.e., to increase the number of blue plaques we have put up to women so that they equal the number we have up to men.

This plaque was financed by the Westgate Historic High Street Heritage Action Zone project which is jointly funded by Wakefield Council and Historic England. The plaque will go on the side of the NatWest Bank branch at 56 Westgate, just inside Woolpack’s Yard. We are grateful to NatWest for giving their permission for the plaque to be affixed to their building.

Find out more about the Forgotten Women of Wakefield Project here.

You can also watch a video about the life of Ann Hurst, funded by Arts Council England and created by Dream Time Creative on our special Vimeo page about the Heritage Action Zone.

The blue plaque to Ann Hurst

HSBC – Wakefield’s Wool Market

We first put the blue plaque to commemorate the location of Wakefield’s wool market on the front of what was then the Midland Bank, now HSBC, in 2000. Some twenty years later, the plaque was looking rather sorry for itself and much in need of a refresh. We approached HSBC who agreed to pay for the plaque to be refurbished and it is now back in situ on the front of the bank building. Our thanks to HSBC for their help and support.

Wakefield Wool Market blue plaque on HSBC

Another plaque that has recently received a refresh, albeit before the Heritage Action Zone project started, is the one on what is today Union Bank, the recently restored and refurbished building that was erected for the Wakefield and Barnsley Union Bank at 57-59 Westgate. The building was acquired by Craft Union Pub Company, part of Enterprise Inns, and the company spent an estimated £1M on the project. Our plaque, which gave details of the building’s original purpose and architect had been damaged by a previous owner who had commissioned cleaning of the front of the building, a process which not only removed the dirt from the stonework but also all the enamel from the plaque, rendering it beyond economical repair.

We were delighted, therefore, when the Craft Union Pub Company agreed to pay for the plaque to be replaced with a new plaque and this is now in place on the front of the building.

The blue plaque commemorating the Wakefield and Barnsley Union Bank building.