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Islington People's Plaques

Islington People's Plaques 2014

Islington People's Plaque scheme is back for 2014!

The scheme gives you the chance to nominate your favourite Islington person, place or historic event. All nominations will then be shortlisted and you will then be able to vote for your favourite. The top three choices will get a commemorative green plaque.

The nomination period for 2014 is now closed.

Due to Council Elections taking place in May, the voting for people's plaque nominations will commence in June.

Watch this space for forthcoming details about the shortlisted candidates and voting instructions.  

    Islington People's Plaques 2013

    Over 4,700 votes were received for 2013's Islington People's Plaques scheme.

The winners were:

Betty Knight, champion for the rights of Islington tenants (Spa Green, EC1)

Betty Knight was a campaigner for better living conditions in council homes. She was the driving force behind Spa Green Tenants’ Management Organisation, in St John Street, which was established in 1995. Charming but forceful, she battled to make things better for people in Spa Green Estate and Clerkenwell. In 1996, Betty received a civic award for her work and dedication to the community. Never one to sit back when action was needed Betty challenged the Prime Minister at the House of Commons on the matter of rent robbery. In April 2010 Betty was awarded an Islington Special Mayoral Award for her lifetime achievements.

Dr Gordon Signy, pioneering pathologist & Olympic fencer (Alwyne Road, N1)

A pioneer in medicine, Dr Signy made outstanding advances in all branches of pathology and contributed to the founding of the study of Haematology. He was instrumental in developing the investigation and successful treatment for blood diseases, some of which had often previously been virtually untreatable. In the 1940s he founded the prestigious “Journal of Clinical Pathology”. Signy was a lifelong sportsman and captained the British fencing team at both the 1964 and 1968 Olympics. The World Association of Pathology Societies created a fellowship in his honour to enable young pathologists to visit another country to learn skills which would be of value to them upon their return home and this has benefited many overseas doctors.

Len Harvey, champion boxer (Upper Street, N1)

Len Harvey was by common consent one of Britain’s finest boxers of the 20th century. He was unique in that he boxed at every weight from flyweight to heavyweight and won British titles at three different weights: middle, light-heavy and heavy. He was also the British Empire champion at light-heavy and heavy. Harvey’s incredible career embraced a total of 133 recorded fights, of which he won 111, with 9 draws and just thirteen defeats. After retiring Len became licensee of the Star and Garter pub at 44 Upper Street in Islington. In 1973 the pub was renamed The Champion in his honour (it is now called the Steam Passage Tavern).

The runners-up were:

Michael Faraday, chemist & physicist (Barnsbury Grove, N1)

Faraday is known as one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century. In 1821 he published his work on electromagnetic rotation (the principle behind the electric motor) and went on to make many other discoveries which were crucial in allowing electricity to be transformed from a curiosity into a powerful new technology. In 1826 he founded the Royal Institution's Friday Evening Discourses and in the same year the Christmas Lectures, both of which continue to this day. He himself gave many lectures, establishing his reputation as the outstanding scientific lecturer of his time. He was a member and elder of the Sandemanian Chapel in Barnsbury Grove for many years.

Nat Gonella, jazz trumpeter & band leader (Edward Square, N7)

Gonella was a jazz trumpeter, bandleader and vocalist born in Edward Square, near Caledonian Road. When his father died he was placed in the Islington St Mary’s Guardians School as an orphan and it was there that he was taught the trumpet. In 1935 he founded the Georgians which were one of the headline acts at the London Palladium for more than four years. Gonella has been a major influence on other British jazz trumpeters ever since including Humphrey Lyttelton and Digby Fairweather.

Ronald “Carl” Giles, cartoonist (City Road, N1)

Giles the Cartoonist was born at Angel Islington in September 1916 above his father's tobacconist's shop. In 1937 he went to work as cartoonist for the left-wing newspaper Reynolds News. His first cartoon for the Sunday Express appeared in the newspaper in October 1943. Over 100 of his cartoons were based on his schooldays at Barnsbury Park School.

Robert Paul, pioneering cinematographer & ‘Father of British Cinema’ (Albion Place, EC1)

Paul was a scientific instrument maker from Highbury. He was one of the early developers of film recording technology. In 1895 with photographer Birt Acres he developed a camera and shot some experimental footage. Their first commercial shoot was a 40 second sequence of the Oxford and Cambridge boat race which was shown throughout the summer at the Empire of India Exhibition at Earl’s Court. Their first films were only viewable via a peephole, rather than as screen projections, but by 1896 Paul perfected a method of projecting footage onto a canvas. Around 50 films per year were produced at his Muswell Hill Studios, the first British film studios. He is remembered as the 'Father of the British Film Industry’.


Louis Wain, artist (St John Street, EC1)

Born in Clerkenwell in 1860, Wain went on to become famous as “the man who drew cats”. He specialised in drawing cats in humanised form, engaging in every type of human activity often wearing evening dress, smoking cigars and playing games. Many of his illustrations appeared in publications such as the Illustrated London News and the Boy’s Own Paper. They were a great public success and H. G. Wells commented that ‘English cats that do not look like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves’.   In later years Wain developed a persecution complex and was certified mentally insane and committed to hospital. In 1925 he was moved to Bethlam Hospital in south London.

Jackie ‘Mr TV’ Pallo, professional wrestler (Britannia Row, N1)

Born Jack Gutteridge off Essex Road in 1926, Jackie Pallo was a professional wrestler and a star of British wrestling in the 1960s and 1970s. He wrestled as an amateur at the famous Ashdown Club in Pentonville and became a professional wrestler in 1952. He became one of the most popular and most ‘reviled’ wrestlers on TV wearing candy-striped Y-front trunks and gold boots with his peroxided hair in a black velvet bow. He was particularly unpopular with elderly ladies who would hit him with their handbags. His speciality move was to mistime a dropkick and land in apparent agony with his legs astride the top rope. In later years he often wrestled in a tag-team with his son Jackie junior as his partner. He appeared in such loved television series as 'The Avengers' and 'Are You Being Served'. 

Jean Simmons, Hollywood actress (Hillmarton Road, N7)



The actress Jean Simmons was born in Hillmarton Road in 1929 before moving to Finsbury Park as a young girl. As a teenager she enrolled at the Aida Foster School of Dance in Golders Green where she was talent spotted. She starred in several well-known British films including 'Great Expectations', in which she played the young Estella opposite John Mills, and in 'Hamlet' as Ophelia opposite Laurence Olivier for which she received her first Oscar nomination. Soon after she moved to Hollywood and appeared in such films as 'Guys and Dolls', 'The Robe' and 'Spartacus'.