English Heritage who care for historic stately homes, castles, gardens and archives have revealed they will be suspending their blue plaque scheme, which marks homes of notable personalities, due to funding cuts.
The BBC state the current budget for the body has ‘made it impossible for it to continue’.
The government funding cuts will see the budget for the organisation fall to £92 million by 2014 from highs of £130 million. English Heritage note it costs just under £1000 for a single blue plaque at £965.
Newspaper reports suggest the scheme will be on hold for up to two years while other funding sources are sought. The idea to mark buildings which were once home to famous or notable people was first proposed in 1863 by William Ewart MP, in the House of Commons.
“From the outset, the aim of the scheme was to celebrate the link between person and building, and to make ‘our houses their own biographers’” English Heritage note.
The Royal Society of Arts, who originally oversaw the venture, also hoped to save important buildings with the plaques by encouraging the preservation of locations of historical interest. This has been successful in part, although some have given way to modern developments.
The blue plaque scheme was founded in 1866 and in three years English Heritage is due to celebrate 150 years of the commemorative blue circles.
Remaining already approved plaques will continue to be installed in 2013. It isn’t the first time the scheme has been put on hold with the two World War’s seeing installations suspended to save money.
There are currently just under 900 blue plaques across London, however the first installed for poet Lord Byron in 1867 fails to survive with the building demolished in 1889. The earliest example is the second erected for Napoleon III which was also unveiled in 1867.
“English Heritage remains committed to the Blue Plaques scheme that has done so much to inspire Londoners and visitors with the history of the capital and its inhabitants.” A statement said, adding, “Following our 34% funding cut in the 2010 spending settlement, English Heritage commissioners made the decision that the blue plaques scheme was to be funded in an alternative way in the future.
“As a step towards creating a new and more self-sustaining scheme, the blue plaques team will be reduced to two people during 2013. They will continue to erect plaques already agreed by the independent advisory panel and work up the details of a new approach to running the scheme that will be announced in 2014.”
The Royal Society of Arts handed over the running of the scheme to the London local authority in 1901, with English Heritage taking over the venture in 1986. Names set to be revealed this year include architect John Nash and performer Phyllis Dixey.
Other blue plaque schemes operate around the country, in many cases with none-government funding. Recently the family of actress Kathy Staff raised funds via appeal to install a blue plaque near to her childhood home in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester.