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Celebrities back blue plaques for SE1

Southwark Council is urging local residents to vote for the 20 blue plaques that will be put up around the borough next summer as part of a new scheme.

The 50 nominees are vying for one of just 20 blue plaques in a showdown similar to the BBC's popular Great Britons vote. Historical heavyweights such as Dickens, Chaucer and Isambard Kingdom Brunel will be pitched against modern icons like Michael Caine, Rio Ferdinand and Charlie Chaplin.

The list of 50 nominees was drawn up by five judges who considered public nominations and drew on their own experience to narrow the field to 30 people, 15 places and five events.

Ross is not the only celebrity to galvanise support for his favourite Southwark icon. TV chef Jamie Oliver is backing 1,000-year-old Borough Market, which he describes as "a tasty slice of London history". Channel 4's Time Team presenter Tony Robinson is rooting for a plaque for the site of Bermondsey Abbey, once one of the most important religious houses in the country.

South Bank Show presenter Melvyn Bragg is backing one of the "founding fathers of English Literature" Geoffrey Chaucer, whose Canterbury Tales began at the Tabard Inn off Borough High Street, while Simon Callow has plumped for Charles Dickens, who he says "wrote with exuberance and generosity of heart" and should "without doubt be awarded a blue plaque."

People can vote online at the Southwark Council website where they will also get information about each of the 50 nominees

Cllr Nick Stanton, Leader of Southwark Council said: "We have always been proud of Southwark's incredibly rich heritage and we're sure the competition to win a blue plaque will be fierce.

Michael Caine (actor born and brought up in Southwark) Endorsed by Jonathan Ross "Michael Caine is one of few people who manage to combine stardom with total honesty. He is an inspiration to a generation of actors, film goers and critics while staying true to himself and his roots as a Londoner. He deserves to be recognised not just for his contribution to the film industry but on a local level, for being a source of pride to the community that raised him."

Charles Dickens

(Victorian novelist and social reformer) Endorsed by Simon Callow

"Dickens wrote with such exuberance and generosity of heart you cannot fail to be inspired. He had a weird and wonderful imagination and an ability to summon up the grotesque with flamboyance and colour, and yet he also had massive compassion for people who were disadvantaged. Charles Dickens should without doubt be awarded a blue plaque."

Borough Market

(1,000 year old food market) Endorsed by Jamie Oliver

"I've been going to Borough Market for years – there's really nowhere quite like it in London. There is such a great atmosphere, not to mention really excellent fish, veg, terrific meat and delicious cheese all straight from farmers. It's a tasty slice of London history. It is so important that we support farmers markets on every level like this one. It presents the heritage of British produce at its best."

The Tabard Inn

(site of the Inn associated with Geoffrey Chaucer) Endorsed by Melvyn Bragg

"Chaucer is one of the founding fathers of English Literature and Southwark will forever be associated with Chaucer and the immortal Pilgrims he sent off from The Tabard Inn to Canterbury."

Bermondsey Abbey

(important Mediaeval centre of learning) Endorsed by Tony Robinson

"You can walk down Abbey Street in Bermondsey and not realise that monks, almost 1000 years ago, trod the very same route that shoppers, business people and market sellers walk today. A blue plaque on the site where Bermondsey Abbey lies, under the street, would ensure that we all remember the local history that has made the community of Southwark what it is today."

Fred Karno's Fun Factory and Charlie Chaplin

(training ground for comedy stars of the silent screen) Endorsed by his grand-daughter Kiera Chaplin

"My grandfather rose up out of a childhood of poverty and hardship in Walworth in the 1890s and an early career in Southwark with the Fred Karno Fun Factory. The essence of his character and his inspiration were deeply rooted in Walworth and Southwark. His visionary genius grew through his early experiences to earn him incredibly popular success on both sides of the Atlantic. A blue plaque would seal that amazing achievement that has been an inspiration to so many."

The 50 nominees

Literary and Arts

• Edward Alleyn (Shakespearean actor and the founder of Dulwich College)
• William Blake (famous writer, had his first vision on Peckham Rye)
• Enid Blyton (children?s writer)
• John Donne (poet and Dean of St Paul?s)
• Oliver Goldsmith (playwright and novelist)
• George Tinworth (Walworth sculptor and Doulton designer)

Entertainment and Attractions

• Thomas Keyse (discovered Bermondsey Spa)
• Connie Smith (music hall star and actress)
• Tommy Steele (singer and actor)
• Surrey Docks Farm & Hilary Peters (founder of City Farm movement)
• Surrey Zoological Gardens (19th century zoo in Walworth)
• Sam Wanamaker (the man behind Shakespeare?s Globe)


• Charles Babbage (mathematician and computer pioneer)
• Michael Faraday (Victorian scientist)


• Myles Coverdale Bible (First translation of the Bible into English)
• Charles Spurgeon (Baptist preacher and philanthropist)

Philosphers/reformers/community leaders

• Annie Besant (social reformer and campaigner for women's rights at work)
• Dr Selina Fox (founder of Bermondsey Mission Hospital)
• Octavia Hill (social housing reformer and founder of the National Trust)
• Sam King (first black mayor of Southwark)
• Lord (Herman) Ouseley (former chair of the Commission for Racial Equality)
• Sir Alexander Paterson (prison reformer)
• Dr John Stansfield (started the Oxford and Bermondsey Boys Club)
• Mary Wollstonecraft (early women?s rights campaigner)


• Isambard Kingdom Brunel (Victorian engineer)
• Corbett?s Lane (beginning of London?s first public railway)
• Phyllis Pearsall (creator of the A-Z)
• The Pioneer Centre (innovative 1930s healthy living centre)


• Bobby Abel (Victorian cricketer)
• Rio Ferdinand (Peckham born England footballer)
• Edgar Kail (Dulwich Hamlet and England footballer)
• Business Bevingtons and Sons (Leather workers in Bermondsey)
• Christy?s Hats (the world?s largest hatmakers in 1843)
• The Gandolfi brothers (camera makers)
• Sir George Livesey (Victorian businessman)

Places and events

• The Clink (Mediaeval prison)
Cross Bones Graveyard (Mediaeval paupers graveyard at Bankside)
• The Doggets Coat and Badge Race (historic lightermen and watermen river race)
• Ladlands/Dawsons Heights (Roman site)
• Horsemonger Lane Gaol
• Sailing of the Mayflower (voyage of the Pilgrim Fathers to America from Rotherhithe)

Second World War

Druid Street arch bombing (where 77 people died in a WW2 air raid)
• Fire at Surrey Docks (September 1940 ? start of the Blitz in Southwark)
Stainer Street arch bombing (where 63 people died in a WW2 air raid)

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