News

Blue ‘plaques’ reveal hidden histories of high street businesses

Latest effort to boost trade in Lancaster Road sees businesses celebrate the history of their premises

Next to one of the new blue 'plaques' adorning a former pub in Lancaster Road are (from left) John Cole from The Enfield Society, Simon Warren from Here Before Us and Philippa Gardener, whose grandfather Benjamin once ran The Holly Bush pub
Next to one of the new blue ‘plaques’ adorning a former pub in Lancaster Road are (from left) John Cole from The Enfield Society, Simon Warren from Here Before Us and Philippa Gardener, whose great-grandfather Benjamin once ran The Holly Bush pub

Blue ‘plaques’ highlighting the history of local business premises have been unveiled in an Enfield high street.

The Enfield Society has funded the creation of ten stickers – which resemble the familiar blue plaques erected by English Heritage on buildings of historic interest around London – that are being displayed in the windows of businesses in Lancaster Road.

They tell a variety of stories about the history of particular premises, including a former pub run by the same family for nearly a century and a greengrocer who killed her husband.

The ‘plaques’ were created by Simon Warren, who runs an organisation called Here Before Us and has created 215 such plaques around the country to celebrate the forgotten lives of long-gone local residents.

Alison Yates, who helped co-ordinate the installations along Lancaster Road, told the Dispatch: “We had this project to try to cheer up the road and we are trying to do something to increase the footfall.”

Last year colourful flower pots and decorations were hung from items of street furniture in Lancaster Road after being created by gift shop owner Kerrie Bullen, but later mysteriously disappeared.


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Alison said: “We want people to use their local shops a bit more, and this was an idea to do something that could not be removed.”

Celebrating the installation of his blue plaques in Lancaster Road today (Friday 6th), Simon said: “If you are walking down the street and see something out of the corner of their eye, you are drawn to it. The shopkeepers [in Lancaster Road] have said people have come in as a result of seeing them, and other people have been contacting me saying they want one.

“We want to keep people in the high street instead of going to out-of-town shopping centres.”

Boho Flo owner Keri Bullen alongside the blue plaque for Mary Ann Dearman
Boho Flo owner Kerrie Bullen alongside the blue plaque for Mary Ann Dearman

One of the plaques celebrates the history of a former pub, The Holly Bush, that was closed around a decade ago and is now a small supermarket. It was run by the Chandler family between 1871 and the mid-1950s and the great-granddaughter of former publican Benjamin Chandler, Philippa Gardener, visited the site today. She told the Dispatch: “I am so proud to see the blue plaque. It is part of our family history and we still talk about it. Benjamin was quite a character, he used to take people to the races in his charabanc.

“He was very well known around here because of how kind he was and his good deeds for local people.”

Not all of the blue plaques tell such heart-warming stories, however. The one that now adorns Kerrie’s shop, Boho Flo, tells the tale of a greengrocer called Mary Ann Dearman who is said to have killed her alcoholic husband in 1907 and been convicted of manslaughter – although she was only imprisoned for three days because of “extenuating circumstances”.

For more information about the blue plaques:
Visit
herebeforeus.co.uk


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