Longridge's 14 blue heritage plaques would cost £4,000 to restore and repair

What price history? That’s the question Longridge residents considered when they were advised renovation of their town’s blue heritage plaques would come at a cost.

By Fiona Finch
Thursday, 14th July 2022, 10:34 pm
Updated Friday, 15th July 2022, 7:13 am

Those attending the annual meeting of Longridge Town Council were asked for their opinions about paying to get the town’s numerous plaques, which mark buildings and places important in the town’s history, restored.

Longridge town Coun Steve Ashcroft told the meeting: “Clearly if they are not maintained they will over time become pointless. This was an initiative by a group of people who felt it appropriate as part of the history of the town to produce these plaques. But they do need to have some money spent on them if we think that’s appropriate.”

He said the plaque project “was organised by an organisation not in existence any more”. The question now is who is going to take responsibility for maintaining the plaques because based on a survey every one is in need of some form of refurbishment. “

Keith Kaye has suggested restoration work could be done locally.

Coun Ashcroft said it was difficult to read the white lettering on some and others were rusty.

The meeting was told it would cost approximately £3,795 plus a VAT charge of £644 to remove, restore and replace 14 plaques which need refurbishing.

The specialist restoration firm which could do the work is located in the Midlands and it is hoped a volunteer would transport the plaques south.

A replacement plaque, if required, would cost £355 plus VAT.

The Towneley Arms Hotel by the former railway station has a blue plaque Photo: Neil Cross

But one man attending the meeting had his own solution to cut costs, which he said he had previously suggested – get a local garage and high school pupils to help.

What do Longridge residents think?

Keith Kaye said: “Two years ago I put a proposal to the Town Council about the plaques. I photographed all of them. The proposal I put forward (was) to keep it local by using one of the specialist car spraying companies in Longridge together with the high school to make it a project to learn about Longridge.” He said the pupils would also learn skills from the restoration process.

Another contributor said she was among the original group which decided the plaques would be a good idea to promote the town’s history, adding: “They belong to Longridge.”

Blue plaque on Club Row - the properties were financed by one of the earliest "terminating building societies". The societies were disbanded when all the members had paid for their homes. Photo Neil Cross

Another option was that not all should be restored at the same time. It was also suggested two other organisations might wish to contribute to the restoration work – Longridge and District History Society and the Heritage Centre Trust. A lottery bid or seeking match funding were outlined as two options, but it was felt by the Town Council that ultimately the main cost could fall to the council.

Coun Ashcroft concluded the discussion saying the impetus for restoration had come from the local history society but that it had come back to the council and a decision had to be made as whether it was an appropriate sum of money to spend.

Where are the Blue Plaques?

The plaque on Club Row Photo: Neil Cross

Longridge, a Ribble Valley town near Preston, has a rich and varied history and plaques can be found at locations including the former Co-operative building which once had a ballrooom, Club Row (built by one of the earliest building societies), Market Place (home to the Palace cinema), the Old Station and the Towneley Arms.

Longridge's landmark Co-Op building - a Co-operative store is now on a neighbouring site in the town
The Palace cinema has its own blue plaque detailing the building's previous uses
The plaque on the Palace cinema