John Lennon, remembered in plaques

This is not here. To Julia Lennon, nee Stanley, a son John Lennon (1940-80) born here in the former Liverpool Maternity Hospital 6:30pm 9 October 1940

Today marks 33 years since the death of John Lennon, who was shot on the evening of 8 December, 1980.

His life is remembered through no less than eight plaques, as documented on Open Plaques.

The first commemorates his place of birth, at Liverpool Maternity Hospital in 1940.

This is not here. To Julia Lennon, nee Stanley, a son John Lennon (1940-80) born here in the former Liverpool Maternity Hospital 6:30pm 9 October 1940

An English Heritage plaque marks the house he lived his early years in, from 1945 to 1963 at 251 Menlove Avenue in Liverpool.

John Lennon 1940-1980 musician and songwriter lived here 1945-1963By 1957, John had formed a band called The Quarrymen, who performed locally, and on 6th July he first met Paul McCartney, at the Church hall where he was due to play. A plaque marks the spot of this introduction, inscribed with this quote from John:

That was the day, the day that I met Paul, that it started moving.

Paul McCartney John Lennon. In this hall on 6th July 1957 John & Paul first met. The Quarry Men featuring, Eric Griffiths, Colin Hanton, Rod Davies, John Lennon, Pete Shotton and Len Garry performed on the afternoon of 6th July 1957 at St Peters Church Fete. In the evening before their performance in this hall Ivan Vaughan, who sometimes played in the group, introduced his friend Paul McCartney to John Lennon. As John recalled ...... "that was the day, the day that I met Paul, that it started moving."

McCartney soon joined The Quarrymen, and in 1959 they recorded their first record, at the Percy Phillips recording studio. The plaque their notes the tracks they recorded as “That’ll Be The Day” by Buddy Holly and “In Spite Of All The Danger” by Paul McCartney & George Harrison.

This plaque commemorates the recording here of The Quarrymen's first disc. Percy Phillips recording studio was located here 1955-1969. The Quarrymen. John, Paul and George plus John Lowe (piano) and Colin Hanton (drums) paid Mr Phillips 17 /6 to record their first disc here on 17th July 1959. The two numbers were "That'll Be The Day" by Buddy Holly and "In Spite Of All The Danger" by Paul McCartney & George Harrison. In 1960 they became The Beatles.

In 1960, John Lennon met with fellow art students Bill Harry, Stuart Sutcliffe and Rod Murray after a poetry reading, and the group of friends decided to call themselves The Dissenters, and to put Liverpool ‘on the map’. A plaque marks the spot where this meeting took place, at a pub called Ye Cracke.

John Lennon plaque - The Dissenters

Later that year, the band become The Beatles, and it wasn’t long before they had moved to London, where the rest of the plaques can be found.

The site of Apple Corps, the company formed by the band to release their records, had a building on 94 Baker Street. This has seen at least two plaques on it. The first plaque remembered John, and was erected in 2003. This was replaced earlier this year by a second plaque also remembering George Harrison.

John Lennon 1940-1980 Musician and Songwriter lived here in 1968Finally, another English Heritage plaque marks the building where John lived in Montagu Square. This was unveiled on 23 October 2010, and we were there for the press launch, when it was unveiled by Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono unveiling Jonn Lennonn plaque 23 Otcober 2010 in London

There may well be other plaques for John Lennon that we’ve missed though. So if you spot any, do let us know.

Sending Christmas cards? Think of Sir Henry Cole

Sir Henry Cole - lived here 1879 - 1880. He originated the custom of sending Christmas cards and was largely responsible for the foundation of the Kensington Museum. He was also a great postal reformer. Erected by the Hamstead Plaque Fund.

Tis the season for sending Christmas Cards. But how did this tradition start?

Well, according to one of our plaques, it was originated by Sir Henry Cole. A lifelong civil servant, he also reformed the postal service, helping to introduce the ‘Penny Post’ with its famous stamp, the Penny Black. To promote this, he commissioned the World’s first commercial Christmas card in 1843, illustrated by John Callcott Horsely. The rest, as they say, is history, and now the Royal Mail delivers millions of cards each year.

The plaque for Sir Henry Cole was erected by the Hampstead Plaque Fund, and can be found on Elm Row in Hampstead, London.

Sir Henry Cole - lived here 1879 - 1880. He originated the custom of sending Christmas cards and was largely responsible for the foundation of the Kensington Museum. He was also a great postal reformer. Erected by the Hamstead Plaque Fund.

The ‘Kensington Museums’ in the plaque refers to the museums at South Kensington, principally the Victoria & Albert Museum, which Sir Henry, which he helped establish, after also working on the art exhibits of the Great Exhibition. Quite a man!

Photo by Rachel Clarke, released under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial licence.

Enid Blyton, a life told in plaques

Enid Blyton plaques map

Children’s author Enid Blyton died today in 1968. Being such a popular writer, it’s no surprise to learn that she has no less than four blue plaques to commemorate her life.

She was born on August 11th, 1897, and there’s a plaque to mark the spot on the family home she was born it, at 354 Lordship Lane in East Dulwich. This plaque was erected by the Southwark council, as voted for by local people.

Blue plaque: Enid Blyton - popular writer of over 600 children's books.

Blyton probably never remembered that house though, as her family moved later the same year to 95 Chaffinch Road in Beckenham, where there’s another blue plaque, this one erected by the Enid Blyton Society.

Her family moved locally a couple of times again, first in 1903 to 35 Clockhouse Road, then again just two doors down the road to number 31 in 1907, and again in 1912 to 14 Elm Road.

It’s not until 1920 that Enid Blyton left Beckenham, moving 15 miles across London to Chessington, where she lived at 207 Hook Road and worked as a governess to four children. The blue plaque here is from English Heritage, erected in 1997.

Blyton married in 1924, and moved with her new husband to a flat at 32 Beaufort Mansion in swanky Chelsea.

Two years later, in 1926, they moved to 83 Shortlands Road, back in Beckenham, where the final plaque to Blyton stands today, erected by the borough of Bromley.

This though was only their home for three years, as they moved in 1929 to Old Thatch in the sleepy village of Bourne End, in Buckinghamshire.

They lived here for almost ten years before moving five miles away in 1938 to a large house in Beaconsfields, which she asked her child readers to name, and they picked Green Hedges. Blyton lived here for thirty years, until her death in 1968, and it’s here, if anywhere that ought to be commemorated with a blue plaque. The eight bedroomed, mock-tudor mansion even has its own Wikipedia page. But the house was demolished just three years after her death, with new houses built in its place, on a road that, fittingly enough, is now called Blyton Close.

When you plot these homes on a map, you can see a visual story of someone born in suburbs of London, moving around a bit with their family, a short stint of city living in their twenties, and then ‘settling’ out in the countryside. A pattern still very familiar today!

Plaque photo by Nic Price, available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial licence. Thanks to the Enid Blyton Society for their Enid Blyton chronology, used to research this article.

Doctor Who in plaques

Terry Nation plaque

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that the TV series Doctor Who is 50 years old this year. We’ve just been treated to a special anniversary episode, with the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi, being introduced at Christmas.

50 years is a long time for any TV programme to survive, so I thought I’d take a look to see how the show has been commemorated in plaques.

Television Centre, home to the early Doctor Who episodes, (although now no longer home to the BBC) has plaques for the first three doctors, John Pertwee, William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton. These were all unveiled back in 1992, in a ceremony attended by many ex-cast members. Update: as reported by Martin Belam in 2007, these plaques are no longer there, having been removed and then auctioned on eBay. A shame!

The most recent Doctor Who related plaque was unveiled just a week at, at 113 Fairwater Grove West in Cardiff, by the local Llandaff Society. This plaque remembers Terry Nation, who was of course the creator of the Daleks, and lived at this address from 1930 to 1952.

Update: We’ve also discovered that there’s a plaque dedicated to fictional character Ianto Jones from Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood at the Mermaid Quay in Cardiff.

We can’t find any plaque yet commemorating Verity Lambert, the first producer of the show, or Sydney Newman, who created the show (as well as The Avengers) – but perhaps their time will come?

Note: none of these plaques yet have photographs on our site – so if you fancy visiting them and photographing them, let us know.

The Open Plaques blog is back



We had a bit of an, er, issue with our blog, which means it’s been offline for some time. We’ve been trying to resurrect it, but that’s proven to be more difficult than we hoped.

So instead, we’re starting again. A new blog, a new theme, a new style. We might post more often. We might post shorter updates. Who knows.

We still hope to import the archive of old posts at some point in the future.

But for now, onwards.


The Open Plaques Team
(Jez, Frankie, Simon, Deirdre and Marvin)