Weston Town Council is keen to recognise those from the past who have made significant contributions to local life or whose presence has some how enriched the home story. Throughout the country easily spotted blue plaques remind us of characters from times gone by. They frequently inspire further curiosity.
We already have a few commemorative blue plaques around Weston highlighting Earl Alexander of Hillsborough (Churchill’s wartime First Lord of the Admiralty born George Street), Capt George Fiott Day VC (Crimean hero lived Claremont Crescent) and Mary Webb (novelist lived Landeman Circus) along with different style plaques such as that commemorating Professor Sir Arthur Eddington (astrophysicist lived Walliscote Road) and Kathleen Thomas who, aged twenty-one, was the first person to swim across the channel from Penarth to Weston in a seven and a half-hour slog back in the late summer of 1927. In addition Jills’ Garden in Grove Park commemorates Jill Dando, the television presenter and journalist.
A blue Plaque for Paulo Radmilovic can be found on Weston’s second oldest hotel – The Imperial in South Parade, where the town’s most famous athlete turned publican.
When the Radmilovic family moved from Cardiff to Weston in 1904, nineteen-year old Paulo made straight for the newly opened swimming baths on Knightstone Island. His talent soon became obvious and over the following half-century Paulo became the world’s greatest Olympian. His record swimming and polo appearances at six Olympic games was not equalled by another Briton until 1976, eight years after the great man had died. He lies buried in Milton Road Cemetery.
Paulo Radmilovic’s blue plaque was unveiled at the Imperial on Thursday 30th March at 12.30pm by Councillor John Crockford-Hawley who Chairs the Town Council’s Museum Working Party, Councillor Alan Peak, Mayor of Weston-Super-Mare, and members of the Radmilovic family.
More blue plaques?
We asked the public to vote for who they feel most deserves a blue plaque from the 12 listed below. The outcome of the vote determined who received the next blue plaque – assuming that the land/property owner agrees! Voting was on the Mercury website and was open for one month.
This list is by no means exhaustive and the Town Council welcomes suggestions for other nominations. Though some well-known characters such as John Cleese and Jeffrey Archer are Westonians the Town Council has decided only the deceased will be commemorated with blue plaque. If you would like to nominate someone for a blue plaque please email email@example.com
Results of the voting:
- Henry Butt (1861-1944) First mayor of Weston. A self-made businessman with interests in quarrying and property conversions he helped pay for the Winter and Italian Gardens and raised all the capital necessary to build a new hospital in the Boulevard. He also founded Worlebury Goilf Club. He lived in Eastfield Park
- Dr Edward Long Fox (1791-1835) Forward-thinking psychiatrist built medicinal baths and spa on Knightstone Island. Dr Fox’s Tearoom stands alongside his original bathhouse and Weston Hospital’s psychiatric unit is named after him.
- Roald Dahl (1916-1990) Author of many popular children’s books. Pupil at St Peter’s School – a site now occupied by St Peter’s Avenue.
- Hans Fowler Price (1835-1912) Architect responsible for much of Weston’s Victorian development. Notable buildings include Wadham Street Baptist Church (now Blakehay Theatre), Bristol Road Baptist Church, large parts of the Boulevard including the Mercury office, Walliscote School and the School of Science & Art in Lower Church Road, and the former Library and Royal Hospital. He designed his own home – in Trewartha Park – where he died.
- Emmeline Pethwick-Lawrence (1867-1954) Suffragette and founder-publisher of ‘Votes for Women’. Imprisoned for attempting to make a speech in Parliament. She and her suffragette co-founder Emmeline Pankhurst disagreed about the use of violent protest. Born at Trewartha, Bristol Road upper.
- Alfred Leete (1882-1933) Artists and graphic designer who produced the most iconic First World War poster ‘Your Country needs You’. Parents ran the Addington Hotel and he attended Kingsholm School and possibly Weston School of Art.
- Deborah Kerr (1921-2007) Six times Academy Award-nominated actress lived in Elmsleigh Road and attended Rossholm School.
- Ivy Millicent James (1897-1965) Artist and suffragette. Studied Weston School of Art. Her illustrated cards are now very collectable. Lived in Grove Park Road.
- Bob Hope (1903-2003) Comedian and actor. Appeared in over 70 films. Lived for a short time as a baby in Orchard Street and, Southend Road whilst his father worked as a stonemason on the seawall.
- John Hugh Smyth-Pigott (1792-1853) Lord of the Manor. The family lived in Grove House when Grove Park was their private front garden. This squire created woodland on Worlebury Hill with a toll road skirting the cliff face and castle-style gate lodge. He not only much extended Grove House but also re-built St John’s Parish Church.
- Haile Selassie (1891-1975) Emperor of Ethiopia. The British rescued Haile Selassie following the Italian invasion of his country and throughout the war he lived in Bath. He enjoyed visiting Weston and was a particular fan of the Open Air Pool and even though a king he always insisted on joining the queue and chatting to other visitors telling them he was a grateful guest in Britain.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) The Supreme Allied Commander Europe during World War ll visited American troops camped in Weston in the build-up to D-Day. ‘Ike’ stayed one night but, rather than sleep in hotel comfort, he opted for a military caravan parked by the water tower in Weston Woods.