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Commemorative Plaques of Cheltenham: Celebrating People, Places and Events
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Commemorative Plaques of Cheltenham: Celebrating People, Places and Events (Paperback)

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Cheltenham is associated with a wide variety of famous people and events, from the fields of sport, medicine and literature, from the worlds of stage and film, and from to those of industrial innovation and social reform. Some are important in the context of the town, others have much wider significance. Many will know of Dr. Edward Jenner's pioneering work on vaccination which led to the world-wide eradication of smallpox in 1980, but how many are aware that Jenner lived and worked in Cheltenham for 20 years? He vaccinated many thousands of people in the town from an old farmhouse in St George's Road, which still exists, and which many drive past every day. How many know that from the same house Samuel Wilderspin led a revolution that gave us the infant education system that we know in Britain today? Some will know that Cheltenham has many close links with the history of aviation.Sir George Dowty founded the company which bore his name and which still has a major presence close to the town and Sir Frank Handley Page, who was born and raised in Cheltenham, established the company which was to become British Airways.

In addition, the Gloster/Whittle E28/39 prototype aircraft, powered by Sir Frank Whittle's revolutionary jet engine, was developed here; as was the Gloster Meteor, Britain's first operational jet fighter, using Whittle's technology, at H. H. Martyn's Gloster Aircraft Company in 1944. However, few people will be aware that the first ever successful parachute descent by an Englishman was from a gas-filled balloon over Montpellier Gardens in 1838! Even fewer people may be aware that the first words spoken on the stage of the world-famous Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon were performed by Lillah McCarthy, one of the most famous actresses of her day, who was born in Cheltenham High Street.The aim of Cheltenham Civic Society is to promote good design in the historic environment, and to stimulate interest in the history and character of the town. The Society's activities include the installation of blue and green commemorative plaques on buildings to celebrate their association with significant people or events.

"Commemorative Plaques of Cheltenham" tells the stories behind the plaques affixed by the Society since 1982, and other earlier plaques celebrating notable people associated with the town.Authors Peter Smith and Sue Rowbotham throw light on the broader history of the town through the plaques; from George III's historic visit to take the curative waters in 1788, which changed Cheltenham from a small, isolated market town into a fashionable resort, to the present day. Eight carefully-drawn maps detail the individual areas of Cheltenham where groups of plaques can be found, encouraging the reader to learn more about the person or event in the specific context of the plaque's location. The authors hope that both residents and visitors to Cheltenham will find something to capture their interest and imagination, and to see the town in a fresh light, through the stories behind the plaques.

Architecture & DesignArchitectureLandscape art & architectureHistory & PoliticsLocal interest, family history & nostalgiaLocal history Publisher: Reardon Publishing Publication Date: 01/01/2009 ISBN-13: 9781873877937  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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Peter Smith (1917-2007) moved to Cheltenham in 1962 with his wife Judy, and was often to be seen about the town, instantly recognisable by his shock of thick white hair and his purposeful stride. He inspired everyone that he met with his enthusiasm, his dedication, his boyish sense of humour and most of all with his energy. Peter and Judy played an active part in the activities of many local groups, including Cheltenham Local History Society, for whom Peter led a team indexing the Cheltenham Examiner newspaper. He saw the project to its successful completion in 2006, providing an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in the history of Cheltenham. He was regularly to be found collecting funds for Cheltenham Samaritans and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution on Boots Corner, and often carried out Church Watch duties at St Mary's Parish Church. Peter is, perhaps, best remembered as Plaque Officer for Cheltenham Civic Society, coordinating the Society's commemorative plaques scheme from 1995-2005. He also lovingly recorded details of the many other plaques, large and small, old and new, erected by individuals, or by groups such as the Public Libraries Committee, in the town. In 2001 he was given the Alderman Charles Foster MBE award in well-deserved recognition for his voluntary work in Gloucestershire and, in particular, for his untiring efforts for the Cheltenham Civic Society. Sadly Peter died in 2007, at the age of 91, and so did not see the publication of this book. Sue Rowbotham was born in Hampshire, but moved to Cheltenham at the age of two weeks and has lived in the town since that time, so considers herself to be a true 'Cheltonian'. She was bitten by the local history bug in 1998 whilst her two children were at Christ Church Junior School, and has researched and written about the town's past in a wide variety of ways ever since. She collaborated with the University of Gloucestershire to design a CD-ROM on Cheltenham's history for use in schools, based around the national curriculum, and contributed research to the project that led to the performance of Our Town Story: Cheltenham at the Millennium Dome in 1999. Sue published Cheltenham: A History, co-authored by Jill Waller, in 2004, which covered the history of the town from prehistory to the present day. She was editor of the Cheltenham Local History Society Journal from 2002-8, and has provided advice and computer support to the Society teams indexing local newspapers. She was awarded a Cheltenham Arts Council citation for her services to Local History in 2006.

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