On Friday 16th July a Blue Plaque to George Dixon – former Birmingham councillor, MP, Mayor and a Freeman of the City – was unveiled in a special event, postponed from July 2020 and limited to 30 guests under prevailing guidelines in 2021.
Representatives of George Dixon’s family were joined by staff and pupils of George Dixon Academy, the successor school to the original founded by George Dixon. Guests were welcomed to the IKON Gallery, home of the George Dixon Higher Grade School from 1898-1906, by Ian Hyde Deputy Director.
James Dixon – George Dixon’s great-great-grandson and author of his biography “Out of Birmingham” – was delighted to tell guests the story of George Dixon, the man.
“There is no doubt that without Dixon’s exertions and finance, by the time of his death
in 1898, the city, as it had then become, would have been a very much poorer place.”
Dixon chaired first the Birmingham Education Society and then the National Education League resulting in Forster’s Elementary Education Act of 1870 passing on to the Statute Book. The path was now set for compulsory and free schooling for all but legislation was still inadequate to cope with the brightest children so a seventh grade was added with the creation of Bridge Street Technical School, converting warehouse premises into a school at Dixon’s own expense. Here science and mechanics was taught to 400 boys for two years beyond the normal school leaving age and its success was replicated in large towns across the country, leading to the Technical Instruction Act which formalised financing for this type of education. In 1898 the technical school moved to occupy the Oozells Street Board School, became known as the George Dixon Higher Grade School and admitted girls for the first time.
Birmingham Civic Society awards Blue Plaques to individuals who have achieved distinction – through excelling in their work or making a significant contribution to our city. Undoubtedly, George Dixon was a remarkable man and his endeavours in making education accessible to all children in Birmingham and the nation are truly worthy of this Blue Plaque.
Pupils and family unveiled the plaque and it was erected on the IKON Gallery once everybody had taken the opportunity to feel it’s weight (9lbs/4kgs)!
More about George Dixon’s life and achievements can be read here.