Blue plaques in the City

The City of Durham Parish Council has set up a blue plaques scheme to commemorate important people, buildings and events in the parish.

5 blue plaques have already been awarded:

  • Daisy Edis, the pioneering female photographer – 142 Gilesgate
  • Former site of Harrison & Harrison organ builders – Harrison House, Hawthorn Terrace
  • Mary Gibson, Dora Heslop and Winifred Hindmarch, the three first female graduates of Durham University – Chapel, St. Hild and St. Bede’s College
  • The Market Hall, established in 1851 by an Act of Parliament, and one of very few privately owned markets in the UK – outside the Market Hall
  • The Railway Cottages, part of the former Durham Elvet Railway Station – Green Lane

and more will be awarded in the future.

This scheme is based loosely on the English Heritage scheme for blue plaques in London, and aims to encourage residents to celebrate their heritage and to engender civic pride. Members of the public nominate suggestions for a blue plaque, these are then considered by the Parish Councillors and winning nominations agreed. Nominations have then to be submitted to the County Council for planning approval. Commemoration of women in these awards is to be commended as very few of the plaques in existence focus on women.

Other organisations have also set up plaques in the City. A page on this website gives details and photos of the plaques in the City. Some of these are listed below:

City of Durham Trust’s plaques:

  • Sir Ove Arup, Dunelm House
  • James Finlay Weir Johnston, 56 Claypath
  • Drury Lane, Saddler Street
  • Neptune, Market Place
  • Clayport Gate site
  • Former Chapel of St Andrew, Elvet Bridge

Rotary Durham Jubilee Plaques:

  • Site of house of John Gully MP, Jevons House – Bailey
  • John Meade Falkner – Music School, Palace Green
  • Site of house of Sir John Duck – 39 Silver Street
  • Site of the fifteenth century town house of the Neville family – Market Place
  • Moatside Lane – Sadler Street
  • Cathedral Grammar School – Music School, Palace Green
  • Bishop Cosin’s Almshouses – Almshouses, Palace Green
  • Bishop Cosin’s Library – University Library, Palace Green
  • Former Exchequer and Chancery of the Palatinate –University Library, Palace Green
  • Site of the North Gate – Sadler Street
  • Elvet Bridge
  • Tithe Barn – Hallgarth Street

Other organisations’ plaques:

  • Ruth First – Ruth First House, Providence Row
  • Dame Elizabeth Bowes – Bowes House, St John’s College
  • Durham Railway Station

The City of Durham Parish Council’s criteria for granting a heritage plaque are:

  1. In the case of a single person
    1. If the person was eminent in his or her field and is listed in appropriate general national biographical sources for the period; for instance, the Dictionary/New Dictionary of National Biography, Who’s Who/Who Was Who, Men and Women of the Time, the Times Obituary, or recognised specialist biographical sources, and had a significant connection with one or more places in the City of Durham Parish area, such as a residence of five years, place of birth, place of business etc., OR
    2. If the person made a definite contribution to the history of Durham City, does not appear in the relevant national sources but had a significant connection with one or more places in Durham City, such as a residence of five years, place of birth, place of business etc.
    3. Proposals will not be considered for the commemoration of individuals unless more than 20 years has elapsed since their passing.
  2. In the case of an event
    1. If it was of considerable importance in the history or development of the City.
  3. In the case of a building
    1. If, unconnected with an important person, the building was significant in the history or development of Durham City, or is of great antiquity, or of particular architectural importance. There is a similarity between this criteria and the City of Durham Trust’s Architectural Awards