York Civic Trust frequently receives lots of brilliant suggestions for new blue plaques in the city from the general public using our selection criteria.

To be honest, we receive far too many fabulous suggestions to unveil in any one year, or even across a whole decade.

This page details some of the most recent suggestions we have received.

Your feedback can help determine which plaque is next to be unveiled!

We’re keen to hear from you:

  • Which proposed plaque excites you the most and why?
  • Where should that plaque be put up?
  • When should the plaque be unveiled? (On what anniversary date, or connected perhaps with a relevant event going to happen in the city – or happening (inter)nationally as an event or in current affairs? What’s its relevancy, in other words)
  • Have you information or a connection with the person or place being proposed? If so, we’d love to hear from you!!
  • Who, where or what are we missing? (If so: suggest a new plaque!)

Please use the comments box below, Twitter using #yorkcivictrust, on Facebook, or email: info@yorkcivictrust.co.uk


Who / What ?Florence Wright – Educator
Why ?Following an education at Queen Anne’s County Grammar School for Girls, York, and the University of Leeds – at a time when females in academia were rare – Florence Wright became, first, a school teacher at Knavesmire Secondary Modern School for Girls and, after 1950, the Castle Museum as their Education Officer. The latter role allowed her to give fascinating and informative instruction of countless school children about York’s past during their visits to the museum, for which she earned the affectionate title ‘the Grey Lady’ due to her attire (but not mannerism!)

Her interest in the history of York and the importance of sharing it to all extended to her role as Assistant Secretary / Secretary of the Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society for over forty years, and as a founder member of the York Association of Voluntary Guides.
Where?Festival Flats, Paragon St, Florence’s home for nearly thirty years.
When?2025 – 75th anniversary of Florence’s employment with the Castle Museum; 2026 – 75th anniversary of the Festival of Britain (including York Festival), which Florence was involved in, and whose later home – Festival Flats – were a showcase of new design as part of the 1951 national event.
Florence Wright at YAYAS presentation at York Castle Museum in 1981. She retired as YAYAS secretary in that year and her work was celebrated at an event held in the Museum. Image courtesy of Anna Cook.


FLORA SANDES (1876-1956)

Who / What ?Flora Sandes – Soldier & Volunteer Nurse
Why ?York-born and bred, Sergeant-Major Flora Sandes was the only British woman officially to serve as a soldier in WWI. Refusing to retreat with Red Cross colleagues in the Balkans, she enlisted with the Royal Serbian Army in 1915 and quickly rose through the ranks. Seriously wounded in hand-to-hand combat, she subsequently received Serbia’s highest military decoration. After the war, she lived in Yugoslavia and is noted as being Belgrade’s first taxi driver.
Where?Her childhood home in Nether Poppleton
When?2026 – 150th anniversary of Flora’s birth; 2028 – 150th annviersary of Serbia’s recvongition as an indepedant nation (following Ottoman rule); a Remembrance Sunday.
Flora Sandes; one of her passions being driving.


HENRY HINDLEY (1701-1771)

Who / What ?Henry Hindley – Clockmaker & Inventor
Why ?A highly skilled and pioneering local clockmaker, watchmaker and inventor of scientific instruments. Hindley’s inventions included a fusee-cutting engine. a screw-cutting lathe, and the world’s first equatorially-mounted telescope, which can now be seen in Burton Constable Hall, East Yorkshire. York’s examples of his clocks can still be found in the Minster and our very own Fairfax House!
Where?No.62 Low Petergate or Stonegate, addresses of his fomrer homes and workshops
When?Any C21 connection with historic clocks in the city – their repair and restoration.
Detail of a Henry Hindley clock on disaply at Fairfax house, York.


ELIZA GUTCH (1840-1931)

Who / What ?Eliza Gutch – Author & Folklorist
Why ?Known to the public simply as “Mrs. Gutch”, Eliza was an eminent author and founding member of the English Dialect Society in 1873. She prompted the foundation of the Folklore Society in 1872, for which she was a specialist in Yorkshire folklore. She lived in York for over sixty years and was the last private owner of Holgate Windmill.
Where?Holgate Lodge, her former home
When?2023 – the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the English Dialect Society?
Eliza Gutch was the last private owner of Holgate Windmill. IMAGE: Allan Rostron 


LINDLEY MURRAY (1745-1826)

Who / What ?Lindley Murray – Writer & Grammarian
Why ?An American Quaker and lawyer by training, Murray made Holgate, York, his home from 1784, and thereafter devoted his time to literary pursuits. His most famous writing is his English Grammar (1795), which proved immensely popular on both sides of the Atlantic for centuries. It has led to him being described as the ‘father of English grammar’.
Where?Holgate House (No.163 Holgate), his former home
When?2026 – bicentenary of his death?
Holgate House, Holgate: Murray’s former home. IMAGE: Wikipedia



Who / What ?Cooke, Troughton & Simms factory (former) – manufacturer of theodolites, microscopes and other optical tools
Why ?Continued the tradition of manufacturing high-quality optical instruments as successor to Thomas Cooke Ltd, for which York was recognised as a world leader. Along with headquarters in Bishophill, the Haxby Road factory had over 1,000 employees – over 2,000 during the wartime
Where?Former Buckingham Works, Bishophill, or the new Foss Park Hospital complex in Haxby Road – the site of former factory
When??? Timed with opening of any major scientific or industrial business or initiative in York ??
‘Cooke Troughton & Simms in Wartime 1939-1945’ – promotional film (22 minutes). BFI.



Who / What ?William Wilberforce – English politician, philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade
Why ?As an Independent MP for Yorkshire between 1784 and 1812, York was the centre of his political constituency. It was a place where he made important campaign speeches and participated in political hustings. His speeches and campaigns included the abolition of slavery, of which he was the driving force in the passing of the Slave Trade Act of 1807, and later for the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 and the prevention of cruelty to animals; Wilberforce being a founder in 1824 of what became the RSPCA.
Where?‘The Eye of York(shire)’: located outside York’s Crown Court – renowned as a place for public protest and hustings in the County due to its meridian point for the historic ‘Ridings’ of Yorkshire.
When?An anniversary of Acts of Parliament resulting from one of his leading campaigns; a C21 connection and/or continuity of Wilberforce’s campaign issues; urban regeneration of ‘The Eye of York(shire)’.
William Wilberforce


AUSTIN WRIGHT (1911-1997)
Who / What ? Austin Wright ~ Sculptor
Why ? Internationally recognised as a significant post-war sculptor, with works at, for example, the Tate, at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, open spaces at the University of York, and the Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield
Where? Green View, Upper Poppleton (his home and former studio)
When? 2022 marks 25 years since his death 

Austin Wright pictured by one of his works in June 1997. IMAGE: York Press.

Austin Wright, Art360 Documentary Film by David Bickerstaff, 2016, atomictv.com @atomictv


ST. MARY’S HOME (for Girls) (1903-1962)
Who / What ? Formerly ‘The Shelter’ (1903 to 1943) and St Mary’s Home (1943-1962). Originally a home for girls called ‘The Shelter’ run by the York Penitentiary Trust in Bishophill, York, moved to new premises on Huntington Road, York, in 1943 and was renamed ‘St Mary’s Home’
Why ? Evidence of York’s pre- and post-NHS welfare and/or penitentiary provision to address what were considered social issues of the day; addressing perceived social stigmas of being unmarried young mothers (sometimes called ‘the fallen’), and criminal behaviour as what were sometimes called ‘delinquents’
Where? 17-19 Bishophill; 17 Huntington Road
When? 2023 marks 80 years since the opening of St Mary’s Home in Huntington Road

17 Huntingdon Road (now Monkbridge Hotel). IMAGE: Trip.com.


Who / What ?Nevil Shute (pen name) – Aeronautical Engineer and novelist
Why ?His technical innovations included the Airspeed AS.5 Courier, the first British aircraft fitted with a retractable undercarriage to go into quantity production. Today he is better remembered for his novels, two of the most famous being A Town Like Alice (1950) and On the Beach (1957), which were made into successful films and for many epitomise the post-war and early Cold War periods.
Where?Lived at 7 Clifton (‘Bootham Grange’ as it was; now the hotel ‘No 1 Clifton’) in 1931 and 1932
When??? Timed with TV serialisation or film release with one of his works ??

Nevil Shute. IMAGE: Text Publishing


5 thoughts on “York’s next blue plaque?

  1. Eliza Gutch did not live in Holgate Windmill she lived in Holgate Lodge – a large house nearby. Although she is often credited with saving the mill from demolition she did not. Her will directed that all of her property should be sold and that the money raised should be divided between her descendents. Her children Wilfrid, John and Bertha were more involved in saving the mill than Eliza had been.

  2. I’m delighted to see that a plaque for Austin Wright is under consideration. As Robert Gibson has written above, his work is of undoubted quality, and is found in many places in York, not least in the environs of Heslington Hall, at the University.

  3. I very much support a blue plaque to celebrate Austin Wright’s life and work based at his home in Upper Poppleton. He was a quiet tower of sculptural quality and significance in post war art who stayed rooted in York.

  4. Francis (Joseph) Matthews born York 2.9.1927 died 14.6.2014 was a prolific stage & TV actor. He was probably born in Ruby St (Albemarle Rd) but moved as an infant to 106 Lawrence St (the Convent house). He attended St George’s Primary School but when aged 11 his father moved via work to Leeds. See wikipedia. I know he has only been dead 9 years but could be considered for future recognition.

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