Sunday, October 25, 2020
Home News Notes from the sticks: A plaque on all our houses

Notes from the sticks: A plaque on all our houses

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SINCE we moved to Lancashire from London a few years ago, I have been intrigued to see a number of plaques on Victorian and Edwardian terrace houses.

These are not the blue plaques that commemorate famous folks who have lived in certain gaffs.

They are typically in the centre of a row of houses at first-floor level, giving a name to the terrace and the date of completion. The earliest I have seen is about 1850 and the latest about 1910, so it was a relatively short-lived fad. They are almost always on main roads rather than side roads.

The good thing is that these plaques have survived. I suppose that when they span two houses, neither owner wants to be responsible for cutting it in half. Even when houses have been monstrously updated, the plaque remains, though sometimes one half is lovingly maintained while the other is shabby.

The names are often rather romantic, such as ‘Prospect Villas’, even when the view is less than lovely. I presume they were cast from concrete – a few are in carved brick.

I don’t know whether they are common elsewhere – we live close to the border with North Yorkshire and when we venture there I never see one.

(In fact until local government reorganisation in 1974 our village in the Ribble Valley was part of West Yorkshire but was summarily transferred to Lancashire. Similarly, Todmorden, with its proud Lancashire League cricket team, woke up to find itself in Yorkshire. I have always felt this was a shocking thing to do given the deep rivalry between the Red Rose county (Lancashire) and the White Rose county (Yorkshire). Shuttling towns between the two is like telling Kent that it is going to be part of France.)

I have discovered this website with plaques in Leicester, and this one from Leiston, Suffolk. That is the sum total of my findings, so it does seem to have been a localised fashion.

Here are a few pictures from our area. The first shows a typical frontage and the rest are the plaques. I fear they are not as beautifully maintained as some of the Leicester and Leiston ones, which is a shame as they are wonderful little pieces of history.

I’d love to hear from readers with pictures from their own areas. We could compile a great gallery. Contact me at info@conservativewoman.co.uk

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After three walkers were trampled to death by cows in as many weeks, I suggested that the onus should be at least partly on farmers to keep public footpaths clear of large angry animals or, if that were not possible, to put up warning signs. Now the Lake District National Park Authority and the National Farmers’ Union have issued a joint statement about how walkers can enjoy the countryside ‘responsibly’.

Andrea Meanwell (what a great name), the LDNPA’s farming officer, said: ‘Cows with calves will be protective of their young so you should avoid getting too close. If you mistakenly do, then please don’t make a run for it, move away slowly. Don’t turn your back on the cattle and don’t make eye contact as they can find this intimidating.’ (As I reported in June, it is not only cows with calves that can be aggressive.) 

So, you are on a public footpath with a herd of cows weighing two-thirds of a ton apiece thundering towards you, bellowing. You should walk backwards slowly without looking at them. Good luck with that one. 

By far the best advice is to avoid fields with cows in unless you know them to be docile.

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Margaret Ashworth
Margaret Ashworth is a retired national newspaper journalist. She runs the Subbing Clinic in a hopeless attempt to keep up standards, and co-runs A & M Records where she indulges her passion for 60s pop.

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