Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What a difference a day makes - The blue plaque unveiled

I never imagined that the installation and unveiling of a blue plaque would do so much towards raising the profile of Percy F. Westerman. The ceremony held at 55 Campbell Road, Southsea on a bitterly cold Friday afternoon, attracted around 60 guests and visitors, The News (regional paper) and a BBC South Today television crew, to witness the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth and children’s author, Michelle Magorian unveil the blue plaque in honour of Percy F. Westerman.

The plaque, unveiled on the 54th anniversary of his death, is on the house that was the Westerman family home from 1880 and is significant in the Percy F. Westerman story as the place he grew up, went to school, started his job as an Admiralty Clerk in Portsmouth Dockyard, met and courted the love of his life – his wife Florence, and most importantly, began his writing career, submitting features for the magazine ‘Cycling’.

After the unveiling we hosted a reception at the Portsmouth City Museum and took the opportunity to display a selection of books and photographs. The guest were very interested and surprised at the range and scope of the books and the attractive qualities of the dust wrapper artwork.

The children's author, Michelle Magorian was invited to  unveil the plaque after we learnt that she was born and spent time in her youth, at her home in Victoria Road North, just five minutes’ walk away from the Westerman home. Inviting a successful children’s author to unveil a plaque in honour of a successful children’s author from an earlier generation seemed the right thing to do.  We were delighted when she agreed, Michelle Magorian was, without any doubt, key to attracting the media and raising the profile of the event, and of course, Percy F. Westerman. We are very grateful for her kindness and support.

My gateful thanks to the Lord Mayor for taking part in the ceremony thereby giving the event ‘official’ recognition by the City of Portsmouth.

I must also thank the home owner for kindly allowing the plaque to be placed on the house and for allowing us access to documents essential in gathering the provenance needed, and to Diana Gregg for her help in deciphering those documents.

The plaque was unveiled on Friday 22nd February.

The link to the BBC South Today report:

The News - Portsmouth

Blue plaque (top)
Michelle Magorian with Nigel Gossop (centre)
Photographs courtesy of Maureen Walder