Blue plaques for Wigan-born royal composer and acclaimed scientist
An eminent musician and composer, a world-renowned scientist and an important sporting location will receive Wigan borough’s blue plaques for 2022.
Unveiling ceremonies will take place throughout the year with Folly Field, a site where rugby was first played in 1862, chosen to coincide with the 150th anniversary year for Wigan Warriors.
The career of Sir Ernest Bullock, an orphan who went on to become director of the Royal College of Music and was responsible for the music at the coronation of King George VI, will be honoured.
Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker, who is revered in Japan and known as the “Mother of the Sea” for her scientific research, will have a plaque placed near to her former home in Leigh.
Leader of Wigan Council David Molyneux said: “The line-up for 2022 is a remarkable mix of individuals and the origins of a sporting institution that have all made their mark across the world.
“We’re extremely proud of their roots within Wigan borough and that is what the Blue Plaque Scheme is all about. It highlights our rich heritage and is a key part of our cultural strategy.”
Folly Field, on Upper Dicconson Street, was the location of Wigan Rugby Club’s original ground with matches played there since 1862. The final game held there in 1886 attracted 18,000 spectators from across the region to watch Aspull defeat Wigan in the Wigan Union Charity Cup.
Wigan Warriors are celebrating their 150th year throughout 2022 and the plaque is hoped to highlight an important part of the club’s origins.
Marc Selby started a petition two years ago to get a plaque for the fields.
Wigan-born Sir Ernest (1890–1979) was a chorister at Wigan Parish Church who lost his parents when he was a boy but became one of the most important figures in English church music.
He became assistant organist at Manchester Cathedral, then director of music at Exeter Cathedral before moving to Westminster Abbey as director of music.
Knighted in 1951, he was appointed director of the Royal College of Music in 1952.
His success as a composer means his anthems – such as Give Us The Wings Of Faith and O Most Merciful - continue to be sung in churches and cathedrals across the world.
Born in Leigh, Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker (1901–1957) was a world-renowned scientist and botanist with her research into nori (edible seaweed used in sushi) making her a celebrated figure in Japan. A monument was erected in her memory in 1963 in the city of Uto and her life is the subject of an annual celebration on April 14.
Wigan Council’s blue plaques are a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person, event or former building on the site.
Nominations can now be submitted for next year, with ceremonies taking place each year linked to the council’s cultural manifesto, The Fire Within. Further details about the unveiling ceremonies will be provided later in 2022.
For more information visit: https://www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Museums-archives/Wigan-Archives/Blue-Plaque-Scheme.aspx
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