Thursday, September 22, 2011

More Blue Plaques

Unfortunately, I was away when the plaque was unveiled to mark the factory in Beeston where Thomas Humber made bicycles and where Humber motorcycles and eventually cars were made. By all accounts it was an excellent occasion so I was sorry to miss it. All the more reason to make sure not to miss the latest unveiling.

There will be many Beeston residents who will not have a clear idea - if any - of the life and work of this latest Beeston person to be commemorated with a plaque. They may have wondered about the origin of the name of 'Clifford Avenue' in Beeston and they may also be unsure why Nether Street School was renamed The John Clifford School.  They may have spotted the date stone on the building when walking through the short piece of Nether Street that is on the west side of Station Road - ' Erected  in 1806, Enlarged in 1836'.  Its put to good use today as a nursery but they may have wondered what it was built for and what happened there all those years ago This latest plaque will put person and place together and help to answer those questions.

We were welcomed by the nursery's owners, Roy and Hilary Ruddock who take much pride in the history of their building and the way they had been able to rescue the building and convert it for an excellent modern use. Although drizzling rain threatened the ceremony and there was a possibility that the ceremony would have had to be indoors, everyone was determined to do it properly and gathered around the site of the plaque to hear Professor John Beckett give an outline of the life of John Clifford.

Though he was not born and did not die in Beeston, his parents moved their family here from Sawley when he was very young and it was undoubtedly the influences of his early education, his time as a lad in the local lace factories and his conversion and commitment which arose from his membership of the local Baptist chapel - which was then based in the very building where we had gathered - that shaped his life.  It was this chapel community that sponsored his time at theological college from where he went on to a lifetime ministry in west London. It was from that base that he developed as a national and, indeed, an international figure for social issues, in particular as a campaigner for non-denominational education. Rev Kevin Dare, the present Baptist Minister in Beeston, then read an extract from Dr Clifford's sermon which he delivered on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his ministry, which illustrated clearly the power of his oratory and his commitment to his life's beliefs

The plaque was then unveiled by the Deputy Mayor of Broxtowe, Councillor Margaret Handley (accompanied by her husband on the left of our photograph, which also shows, left to right, Rev Kevin Dare, Hilary and Roy Rudduck and Professor John Beckett) 

Now, thanks to this simple memorial, the contribution of Rev Dr John Clifford and the part paid by Beeston, and particularly this building, will surely not be forgotten. Those interested to learn more about this, might wish to read our account of his life and work.