In Tenby we now have quite a few commemorative plaques and markers of people, events and buildings. Of these approximately 15 are blue and 3 are brown and have been designed along the lines of the easily recognizable ‘Blue Plaque ’ model that can be seen especially in London.
The Blue Plaque scheme came into being in 1866 and was originally administered by the Society of Arts who erected 35 plaques, the oldest surviving example being one to commemorate Napoleon III in St James’, London, dating to 1867. Over the years, several bodies and organisations have managed the creation of the plaques, which have been made from all sorts of materials in various colours including brown like those in Tenby to commemorate the birth in the town of artists Augustus John and Nina Hamnett (even though the dates of their construction does not correlate with the brown plaques of London). The blue plaque, in its current form was designed in 1938 by an un-named student for just 4 guineas. There are now more than 880 in London, the scheme currently being run by the English Heritage Trust.
Outside London these commemorative plaques tend to be a much more local affair and in Tenby (considering its size) we have a wonderful number and variety! So many worthies in their various fields noting Tenby and its many charms came and visited, especially painters and writers and who can blame them!
In 2002 the Heritage group of Tenby 2020 erected 12 blue plaques after almost 2 years of grueling negotiation and various planning issues. We were lucky to have the financial support of various interest groups and individuals who helped towards the goal. So many images are copyrighted nowadays I actually had to draw at least 5 images being careful to incorporate certain subtle differences including the plaques for Nelson, Bath House/Assembly Rooms, Blue Ball Inn, Beatrix Potter and Dead House Steps, the latter having completely mysteriously vanished. Spooky or what!? Anyone who knows its whereabouts please let us know!
Tenby’s most recent plaques have been erected by the Civic Society and include one to commemorate Dylan Thomas’ visits to the town, Roald Dahl and his family who used to come for their hols and of course the escape of Henry Tudor from Tenby in 1471. There is a Heritage Plaque Trail leaflet that is produced by Tenby Civic Society which is available to buy at Tenby TIC and Cofion Bookshop.