Observer sets ball rolling with some ‘blue plaque’ names

Our Saturday independent columnist Observer welcomes the town council’s decision to investigate a blue plaque scheme for the town to promote its history.


Regular readers will know I have been “converted” to become an advocate of Uckfield’s history to the wider population.

I once wrongly said that the town didn’t have much history and I was corrected by Mick Harker of the preservation society who kindly pointed out the error of my ways.

He went to great trouble to demonstrate that Uckfield had a real story to tell.

Back in August, when discussing future use of the red telephone kiosk, I said it could be a hub for tourist information and the town should do more to help promote tourism.

So it was with great pleasure that I read this week that the town council had set up a working group to consider a “blue plaque” scheme.

I hope they interpret this as widely as possible.

This scheme could be extended to the historic buildings around the town, many of which we as residents totally overlook.

Some names from history

Anyway, to get the town council working group started, here is a list of figures from history who have good links to our town, subject to proper historical verification.

  • Lord Lucan, who was last seen in the town before his disappearance
  • Sir George Calvert Clarke, a Crimean War veteran who became a high-ranking officer in the British Army.
  • Thomas Cardale, the first Rector. Some may be sniffy about this because of an apparent link with slavery but we should not airbrush history  . . . this is how it was
  • Rag ’n’ Bone Man. Must be the biggest pop star from the town
  • The Nevills and Streatfeilds, the town’s landed gentry
  • TV presenter Trinny Woodall who, it is said online, went to school at Uckfield.
  • Piltdown Man and Charles Dawson
  • Emma Lee French – cared for sick in Utah and Arizona in the 1800s. I had never heard of this but found online
  • Sir Dirk Bogarde, who made his first public appearance in 1939 at the Playhouse Theatre in 1939. The Seed House stands on the site at Bell Walk
  • And, mentioned earlier in the week on this website’s Facebook page, Suzanne Dando, the former Olympic gymnast.

That’s a pretty good list to start with.

Here’s a quick list of some of the town’s historic buildings which might benefit from a plaque

  • Uckfield Grammar School
  • Malt House and Cottage
  • Church House
  • Bridge Cottage
  • Uckfield Picture House
  • Old Parish Workhouse
  • Brick and tile works at Ridgewood
  • Lake Wood
  • The Pilgrim Way route
  • Medieval buildings in the upper High Street, although they have Georgian or later facades
  • Hooke Hall
  • And of course, the site where the Convent stood in New Town which once was a pioneering agricultural college.

I looked at the links to the blue plaque scheme in Weston-super-Mare, provided by this website’s news story announcing the town council’s plans.

Very good I thought with some great names.

However, add in a bit of modern, digital technology and these plaques could do much more. Yes, keep the plaque as a plaque but beside have a QR code which opens up to tell the story in some detail.

There’s much for the council’s working group to get its teeth into. No doubt, they will be able to enlist some help from the preservation society. Of course, we are dealing with privately owned properties in the main and must consider the owners’ viewpoints.

You see, as I have found out, there is an awful of of history in Uckfield.

 See also:


Uckfield events – from model railway exhibition to The Snow Queen


Boardwalk repairs planned at West Park nature reserve


Uckfield Rotary Club presents cheque to young trampolinists

Framfield school wins vouchers for sports kit


Find local organisations in our Uckfield Directory


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