Blue Plaque blues

Telegraph's Blue Plaque mock-up

The Telegraph mocked up a memorial to the memorial scheme:

There has been a large amount of media and press coverage on the potential end to the Blue Plaque scheme in London, as English Heritage budget cuts begin to hit hard. I noticed it on the BBC news website on Sunday evening, and it was then followed up with claims of the National Trust being a saviour, then a counter-claim suggesting that a misinterpretation of a NT staff member comment had jumped the gun rather. This was then reversed as the NT’s Chair weighed in to suggest that the Trust would look at what it can do to help.  Further analysis has followed in the Telegraph, Mail, Times as well as much social media commentary.  The Telegraph even produced a mock-up Blue Plaque for the Blue Plaque (highlighted here).  It has been an interesting story to watch unfold, and by next week we should see a panoply of knee-jerk re-action (like my own tweet on Sunday), through to basic reporting, analysis and opinion – which will make a great case study for the role of one small aspect of heritage in modern society.  Debate around the comparability of historic figures, who and who is not included, commemoration and notions of intangible heritage locations, the politics and practicalities of choice and management of the scheme all play out in the story.  Craig Brown has a particular wry take on the issue, and a letter to the editor has brought in the matter of the English Heritage Chief Executive’s salary, even. Even before the story has played out, it is fair to say that this highlights again that heritage management is perhaps too ‘threat’ oriented (in this case regarding its own management), and seemingly ‘small’ events in the management of our heritage (the scheme threatened is the London-based one, only erects a small number of plaques each year, and arguably isn’t actually conserving or protecting anything) can have wider ramifications and impact in the public eye.

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