A Blue Plaque promotes the history of a building and some of its notable inhabitants. It is also a recognised symbol of national heritage in England and has been successively run by a variety of institutions from The Royal Society of Arts, the London County Council and the Greater London Council and since 1986, English Heritage. Due to lack of funds or grants English Heritage decided to close the scheme and the British Plaque Trust was launched. Latterly English Heritage decided to continue but only in London. The British Plaque Trust is a national scheme.

The national plaque scheme commemorates the link between notable figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked. It is a uniquely successful means of connecting people and places across Britain. The key objective of the British Plaque Trust (BPT) is to commemorate the lives and successes of notable figures by recognising the buildings and places which they inhabited, a pastime was formed etc. The scheme is an endorsement of British innovation, creativity and success throughout history.

Get involved, if you would like to attend some of the special days being organised, or if you might consider sponsoring or generally supporting the British Plaque Trust.

The Process

The lengthy process of selecting locations for future blue plaques involves many individual steps and each step must receive approval before moving forward. In addition, there is the cost of the plaque itself: obviously each plaque is unique. Individual sponsors are required to cover the schemes funding because it is a charity. Each plaque requires an initial proposer, a researcher, and a committee to manage the various applications (not all proposals after research are accepted). Research surrounds the building, its occupants and the commemorated subject.

An administrator is commissioned to manage each application and proposal. The current building owner who (all being well) gives their consent to the plaque application.A representative of the local planning authority (consulted by the Trust), clarifies local council criteria for approval (if appropriate). The property concerned may be a listed building or in a protected region; in such cases, listed building consent or planning authority must be obtained from the local planning authority.

The Researcher authenticates the applications validity and the British Plaque a trust Voting Committee who meet four times per year vote on the applications received and researched. A copywriter is then commissioned to compose a plaque inscription for approved plaques, and a designer consulted for the layout of the approved wording and the plaque’s position on the proposed building. The plaque manufacturer is commissioned, and a contractor responsible for the plaque’s installation is appointed locally.

Finally, a suitable venue is sought for the public unveiling ceremony, and an event organiser is required to manage catering, crowd control and other final details.

Blue Plaques have been commemorating our people and our history since they were first proposed in the House of Commons in 1863. For 160 years we have had to make do with some twenty words or so to tell us about the person and their historical importance, but we now include a QR tag which carries the history of the recipient which can be imported to a mobile phone or other device.

The Trust, under their patron Lord Grade, nomination committee review applications from the public and institutions quarterly.