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Campaign is launched to recognise Bilston’s forgotten famous son

By john workman  |  Posted: June 20, 2013

The Sir Henry Newbolt plaque in Bilston that shows the wrong date of death.

The Sir Henry Newbolt plaque in Bilston that shows the wrong date of death.

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A campaign has been launched this week for Bilston to recognise its famous but forgotten son.

Retired English lecturer Peter Higginson is calling on the town to honour Sir Henry Newbolt, who was responsible for the literary quality of English spoken around the world.

Peter, who is also from Bilston and a great admirer of Newbolt, wants a statue built at his birthplace - St Mary’s Church on Oxford Street and also the error corrected on the blue plaque nearby.

“Newbolt is the father of modern English,” says Higginson, who used to lecture at the university of Wolverhampton.

“Bilston is currently undergoing a historical revival so we should acknowledge his work and what he has done for modern English by building a statue.

“It would be a great tourist attraction for the area.” He added: “There is a blue plaque with his name on near the church but the date of his death is incorrect, which isn’t the way to treat our famous son.” “The memorial says he died in 1932 when the actual date was 1938.” Campaign is launched to recognise Bilston’s forgotten famous son “I wrote to the council before about it before but have yet to receive a reply from them,” he said.

His campaign was supported by Alan Bickley, President of the Black Country Memories Club, who said it was an excellent idea which would benefit not just the older residents, but the young children in the area too.

“It would give the children a sense of their own history and they would be able to appreciate what they have learnt in class at school and where it has has come from.” The idea was backed by the chairman of Bilston Historical Society, Brian Fellows, who is also churchwarden at St Mary’s.

He said: “Sir Henry’s father was the vicar at St Mary’s Church so we recognise the importance of building a statue, but it will depend on whether this is feasible.” He added that any application to build a statue would have to go through the Parochial Church Council first and the relevant authorities.

Suhail Rana, Chairman of the Wolverhampton Civic and Historical Society, said he was glad the Bugle had pointed out the plaque error and they would rectify it as soon as possible.

Corinne Miller, Head of Culture, Art and Heritage at Wolverhampton City Council, backed the campaign and thought the idea of a statue was a good one, but it would depend on funding.

“It is great to celebrate our heritage, that is why people visit the Black Country,” she concluded.

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