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Stories behind the blue plaques told in new book

PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 October 2010

The new book on the blue plaques of Norwich

The new book on the blue plaques of Norwich

They were put up to spark people’s interest in the history of Norwich and managed it so successfully that demand has seen a book penned to tell the stories behind the city’s 39 blue plaques.

Ever since the commemorative signs started appearing on walls and buildings, the Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (Heart) has been inundated with inquiries from people wanting to know more.

Now local author Nick Williams, who was Sheriff of Norwich in 2007-08, has put together a book documenting the remarkable people, fascinating places and innovations that have contributed to the city’s rich heritage legacy.

Some, such as the Britons Arms in Elm Hill, are likely to be familiar, but others like Pablo Fanque – Britain’s first black circus proprietor who lived from 1810 to 1871 and inspired a Beatles lyric in the song Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite – and Reverend Johannes Elison, a Dutch “Stranger” who came to Norwich and with his wife became the only English residents to have had their portraits painted by Rembrandt, are less well known.

Mr Williams, 63, a retired Anglian Water technician and former Norwich City councillor who helps out at Heart, said: “People are fascinated by the city’s history and these blue plaques are a prompt to people to find out more if they are interested.

“We get all sorts of inquiries about them, so hopefully this will answer some of them.

“This book is a tribute to the interesting and inspiring people and developments from Norwich’s past, which have helped Norwich become the great city it is today.”

The blue plaques installed by Norwich Heart are part of the organisation’s continuous programme to make information about the city’s rich and varied cultural heritage more accessible to the general public.

Heart is publishing the book as a follow-up to its award-winning and popular Norwich 12 guidebook, published in 2008, and its local bestseller The Medieval Churches of the City of Norwich, which has been shortlisted in the History and Tradition category of the 2010 EDP-Jarrold East Anglian Book Awards.

The 100-page full colour book is priced at £5.95 and is available now from stockists including Jarrold, Waterstones Castle Street, Norwich Castle, Norwich Tourist Information Centre, Colman’s Mustard Shop and Museum and Norwich Cathedral, or by calling Heart on 01603 305575.

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