For the first time in the history of the London Blue Plaques Scheme, which has been running for more than 150 years, more plaques will be unveiled to individual women in 2024 than in any previous year.

London’s 1000th official blue plaque unveiled in 2023 (c) ianVisits

English Heritage launched its ‘plaques for women’ campaign in 2016, encouraging the public to nominate more remarkable female figures from the past, and this initiative is now bearing fruit on the streets and buildings of London.

The women who will be celebrated by English Heritage with blue plaques in 2024 include Christina Broom, who is believed to have been Britain’s first female press photographer; Diana Beck, celebrated as the UK’s first female neurosurgeon; the jazz singer, Adelaide Hall, one of the first Black women to secure a long-term contract at the BBC; and Irene Barclay, the first woman to qualify as a chartered surveyor.

Dr Susan Skedd, Blue Plaques Historian at English Heritage, said: “Every year, English Heritage’s blue plaques celebrate the very best of human endeavour. This year we are particularly pleased to be able to honour so many pioneering women who not only became female ‘firsts’ but who were also at the very pinnacle of achievement in their chosen fields.

  • Irene Barclay (1894–1989) will be commemorated at her former office in Somers Town, not far from Euston Station.
  • Diana Beck (1900–1956) will be commemorated at the impressive four-storey terraced house where she lived during the majority of her time at Middlesex Hospital.
  • Christina Broom’s (1862–1939) plaque will be the first blue plaque in Fulham, where she lived and worked for 26 years.
  • Adelaide Hall’s (1901–1993) plaque will mark her Kensington home of 27 years, her longest standing address anywhere.
  • Joan Robinson’s (1903–1983) plaque will mark the family home in Kensington, where Robinson lived during the depression that immediately followed the First World War.

English Heritage says it will announce further blue plaque recipients throughout the year.

The English Heritage London Blue Plaques scheme celebrates the link between significant figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked. The scheme runs on public suggestions, the main conditions of acceptance for which are that a subject should have been deceased for at least 20 years, and at that least one building in Greater London in which they lived or worked should survive with a substantially unaltered exterior.

All nominations received by English Heritage are measured against the same strict criteria:

  • They should be of significant public standing in a London-wide, national or international context; and
  • They should be understood to have made some important positive contribution to human welfare or happiness; and
  • Their achievements should have made an exceptional impact in terms of public recognition; or
  • There shall be strong grounds for believing that they are regarded as eminent and distinguished by a majority of members of their own profession or calling.
  • They should have lived in London for a significant period, in time or importance, within their life and work.

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