Seeing that the Birmingham Civic Society was looking for somebody to co-ordinate their Blue Plaque scheme, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved. Blue Plaques are interesting – they bring together a person, a place and a story – they open a window into the past – wouldn’t we all love one on our house?
The role is a mixture of admin tasks and historical/genealogical research. I have been warmly welcomed to the Heritage Committee and am constantly amazed by the depth and breadth of knowledge this team of people bring together. Nominations are reviewed by this committee and if the candidate is considered suitable for a Blue Plaque more detailed research is undertaken to identify possible locations for the plaque and to unearth a suitable date for the celebration, commemorating an anniversary or other significant event whenever possible. A long list of nominations is maintained and currently has over 20 potential candidates taking us well into the 2030s.
I have attended a couple of new Blue Plaque unveilings and enjoyed the atmosphere of celebration and respect for the recipient. Meeting descendants who sometimes have personal memories is a real privilege and has made me determined to try to identify family members to attend any plaque unveilings in the future.
Another task I have undertaken is to organise the information we have on existing plaques into a database that can form the basis of a guide/map, hopefully launched to celebrate the centenary of Birmingham Civic Society. Finding out about all the individuals celebrated in this way has been an interesting project and confirming their locations has been possible from the comfort of an armchair thanks to the accessibility of Googlemaps! This exercise has identified a few plaques that have gone missing and so now I am hunting them down with the help of property developers and Heritage Committee members with long memories!