Green light for talks on Forest of Dean Blue Plaques scheme

By George Henderson in Local People

THE dream of creating a Dennis Potter Trail through the playwright’s old stomping grounds around Coleford has taken another step to becoming reality.

Forest of Dean and Wye Valley tourist boss Maureen McAllister has been brought in to liaise with district council commercial manager Paula Burrow to discuss the introduction of a ‘Blue Plaque’ commemoration scheme for famous Foresters.

A Potter Trail, around Berry Hill and Five Acres, linking places prominent in Potter’s life, has been taken up by West Dean Parish Council after the idea was brought to them by local historian John Belcher.

The council plans to take over the Forest Theatre at the Five Acres college campus and rename it the Potter Theatre, with celebrities Melvyn Bragg and Joan Bakewell already agreeing to be patrons.

The trail would then be linked to the theatre and marketed as a tourist attraction.

It would include places like the house where he was born, his local pub The Globe, the rugby club and his school.

Councillor Tim Gwillam, who is spearheading the project, has asked the district council, on which he also sits, if it would consider co-ordinating a Blue Plaque scheme across the Forest area.

In response, Cllr Patrick Molyneux, Leader of the Council, said: “The council’s commercial manager and the executive director of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism Association have been in discussions about Blue Plaques and have been trying to ascertain who could administer such a scheme.

“The Forest of Dean currently has one Blue Plaque in Newent for Joe Meek, which was overseen by the National Heritage Society.

“Ms McAllister will be liaising with the Heritage Society as the association now looks after destination marketing supported by the interested parties who will be kept informed on progress and will look to broadening their use.”

Some of the other well known people with links to the Forest who could also merit a plaque include broadcaster Jimmy Young from Cinderford, poet FW Harvey who lived in Yorkley, writer Leonard Clark from Cinderford, writer Winifred Foley from Brierley, composer Herbert Howells from Lydney, composer Sir Hubert Parry from Highnam, Angus Buchanan VC from Coleford, all the Dymock Poets, Concorde designer Sir Archibald Russell from Cinderford, London mayor Dick Whittington from Pauntley, radio pioneer John Smale from Lydney and even the novelist HG Wells who lived for a time in Minsterworth.

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