Blue plaques to highlight Peterborough’s rich heritage

Toby Wood, from Peterborough Civic Society, with one of the new blue plaques.
Toby Wood, from Peterborough Civic Society, with one of the new blue plaques.

The city’s rich heritage will get a new profile next week as Peterborough Civic Society erects 20 Blue Plaques which will make up a heritage trail commemorating famous people and places. The society’s vice-chairman, Toby Wood, explains the scheme.

Who was Thomas Hake? Where was the site of the original Deacon’s School? Which Olympic gold medal winner used to run a sports shop in the city?

The answer to these and other questions will soon be made clear when the new Peterborough blue plaques are unveiled over the next week or so in the city centre by Peterborough Civic Society.

The blue plaques ready for installation

The blue plaques ready for installation

Peterborough Civic Society’s motto is ‘Seeking the best for a fine city’ and, to this end, the Society, has over the past thirty years, erected a number of stainless steel plaques throughout the city commemorating people, places and events from the city’s history.

However, some of these plaques have become outdated, worn or are just in places thatmake them difficult to notice.

Two years ago the Society decided that Peterborough’s plaques needed a revamp.

As part of our wish to encourage people to have increased pride in the city, we wanted to develop something instantly recognisable.

Other towns and cities have blue plaques and we felt that using this existing format would be perfect for Peterborough. Some of these new plaques will replace existing ones, but others, for example the plaque on the Customs House, will be new.

Although there are existing plaques all round the city, from the Great Northern Hotel to Crescent Bridge and even out as far as Brotherhood Retail Park and Alwalton, the Society felt that initially the new blue plaques should be concentrated in the city centre.

Peter Lee, a member of the six-person steering group, said: “We felt that a manageable trail that is easily walked would be suitable for both local residents and visitors alike.”

The twenty blue plaques are to be installed next week by Leander Architectural of Buxton, Derbyshire who have manufactured the plaques and who have a national reputation forproducing plaques, signs and notices for organisations such as the National Trust.

As well as the plaques themselves, a free explanatory leaflet has been produced which will be available from the Visitor Information Centre in Bridge Street.

The leaflet will also soon be available for download from the Civic Society’s website where, over the coming months, additional information about each plaque will soon be available. It is envisagedthat the scheme may be expanded in the next few years.

Funding for the plaques has come from income from the sale of the Society’s book ‘Peterborough and its villages in detail’, produced jointly with the Photographic Society, copies of which are still available in various outlets in the city as well as via the Society’s own website.

For the whole of the month of June there will be a display of all of the plaques, their location as well as background material about the Society in the new Exhibitions building in Peterborough Cathedral Precincts.

The Civic Society’s website is www.peterboroughcivicsociety.org.uk

Over the next twenty weeks each plaque will be featured in the Peterborough Telegraph starting next week with the plaque commemorating St Thomas Becket’s link to Peterborough.