Blue Plaques unveiled to celebrate historical figures
Weston Town Council & Weston Civic Society are delighted to announce the unveiling dates for two Blue Plaques celebrating historical figures:
John Hugh Smyth-Pigott at Grove House, Grove Park on 31stJuly at 10.00am
Dwight D. Eisenhower at Weston Woods water tower on 20th Aug at 2.00pm.
Members of the community are invited along to the Plaque unveilings, which being located in areas surrounded by plenty of green space, allow for people to be socially distanced.
To mark the occasion, a new Weston’s Blue Plaque audio tour will also be launched, written and narrated by Councillor and local historian John Crockford-Hawley and bringing the history surrounding each character alive.
Visitors to the Plaques can use their phones to access the page on the Weston Town Council website and play the film that gives the history of the plaque. This is the first stage of what is hoped will become a digital walking audio guided map app.
John Hugh Smyth-Pigott
Though many in the family were quite bonkers, John had vision. He inherited the manorial lordship of Weston-super-Mare on Christmas Day 1823, following the death of the Rev. Wadham Pigott.
The energetic young squire encouraged village children to plant trees on the hillside, initially to create a private game reserve but, once trees began to mature, he threw this woodland open to public wandering.
Two of his original gate lodges are still with us, one in private occupation in Worlebury Hill Road and the other serving food in castellated splendour at the Kewstoke end of the Toll Road.
He replaced the crumbling Medieval St John’s with a new parish church and greatly enlarged his manorial residence at Grove House most of which was subsequently destroyed during the Second World War.
With assistance from far-sighted agents he, along with a new breed of local entrepreneurs, began to change Weston from a sleepy village of little consequence into a town of rising middle-class pretention and expectation. It was the dawning of tourism.
Dwight D Eisenhower
Dwight D Eisenhower is the only American President to have set foot in Weston-super-Mare. As Supreme Allied Commander Europe he arrived in Weston towards the close of World War Two and stayed one night in 1944, en-route to the D-Day landings. The town was filled with American servicemen. Officers were billeted in hotels whilst other ranks slept under canvass in Ellenborough Park.
Far from throwing around his status ‘Ike’ opted to sleep in a caravan parked near the water tower in Weston Woods, in the midst of military vehicles huddled under tree cover and along the Toll Road.
Following the war, Eisenhower became NATO’s first Supreme Commander and then President of the United States from 1953 until 1961.
A gentle stroll through Weston Woods to where an American president once slept under the stars will enable us all to share this fleeting moment of world history.