Historian calls for Honiton's blue plaque trail to be restored

PUBLISHED: 11:35 21 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:11 28 June 2017

Tony Simpson

Tony Simpson

Archant

Historian Tony Simpson says the scheme has not been updated for several years.

A call has been made to restore and expand a trail which showcases the town’s historical sites.

Historian Tony Simpson, who guides people around the town’s ‘blue plaque’ sites as part of the town’s Charter Day celebrations, says the scheme has not been updated for several years.

There are 22 plaques placed on buildings of interest in Honiton, dating from Allhallows Chapel, first recorded in 1327 to Honiton’s famous pottery which closed in 1991.

Mr Simpson said: “Honiton’s blue plaques were a marvellous innovation by the former Rotary Club in 2005.

“It was intended that this should be a progressive scheme which could be updated if new historical sites came to light.

“I understand the club has demised and no other body has taken on the scheme.

“This is a shame because the blue plaques do stimulate interest in Honiton’s history. They also bring people to the town which is good for business.

“Recently I escorted a party of National Trust members from Sidmouth who were interested in Honiton’s blue plaque trail.

“Afterward they went for coffee then went shopping and then for lunch which they had booked at one of the local businesses on High Street.

“They also went to our museum.”

The lack of upkeep has been damaging to the scheme, with at least one plaque going missing when Mr Simpson examined the trail.

He added: “I also notice the ancient coaching bells at the former Dolphin Inn where there is a plaque, are no longer in place.

“Keeping our history alive is important for Honiton.

“Our museum keeps the artefacts safe but some organisation needs to take care of our environmental history.”

Mr Simpson said that since raising the issue, he has received a flurry of suggestions for commemorating new buildings and people important to Honiton.

He also has some ideas of his own.

“Given the interest in Patrick O’Brian’s novels and films there could be a plaque recalling that his Royal Navy hero Jack Aubrey, the real life Lord Thomas Cochrane, was briefly elected Honiton’s most radical MP in 1806,” he said.

“Perhaps we need a civic trust or similar body to work on this. I hope there can be a meeting to discuss this.”

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