Blue Plaque Nominees

This year’s nominations for the local Southwark Blue Plaque are below. Please submit your vote at the bottom of the page.

William Pullum

Blue Plaque Nominee with reason for nomination: WILLIAM PULLUM: I have lots of research which I could email you, including maps of where he lived. Here's a thumbnail sketch of him: From an ill puny teenager Pullum built himself into what he termed a 'scientific weightlifter'. He was inspired by three German brothers - the Arthur Saxon Trio - who astounded audiences with feats of strength at the Camberwell Palace of Varieties. He opened a world-famous gym - the legendary Camberwell Club - at 5 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8TR (building extant if rundown. Now a 'Cheeky Burger') and trained the 1948 Olympic weightlifting team. He patented a new design for barbells & wrote a book 'Weightlifting Made Easy and Interesting', still considered a bible of weightlifting & available on Amazon today. (I have an original copy).

Pullum revolutionised the world of weightlifting. He was instrumental in setting up the British amateur Weightlifting Association in 1910 which helped codify the sport's rules and stands which still are recognised today. He was an early adaptor of nutritional supplements. He was considered so important during the First world War that he was not allowed to enlist; instead he was tasked with bringing those who had failed the military tests up to standard.

Pullum won 192 British & world weightlifting championships, 15 British championships and 15 gold medals. He is buried at Camberwell New Cemetery. His inscription reads: 'During his lifetime a pillar of strength and inspiration to his many friends throughout the world.’

I feel that it is important that more 'working class' local individuals who have contributed to society in very different, sometimes unusual ways, are given a commemorative plaque. (English Heritage Blue Plaques tend to be for the elite).

Gym: 5 Camberwell Church Street, London SE5 8TR (now a Cheeky Burger).

Grave: Camberwell New Cemetery. His inscription reads: 'During his lifetime a pillar of strength and inspiration to his many friends throughout the world.’

Stock Aitken Waterman.

Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman were responsible for over 200 million records sold worldwide between 1984 and 1993. They are considered one of the most successful writing and production partnerships of all time who notched up 13 number one singles and over 100 top 40 hits in the UK alone – with this success repeated worldwide. All this success was made from a little backstreet studio in Southwark – The Vineyard in Sanctuary Street. From this humble building the team made stars of Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley, Mel & Kim and Jason Donovan whilst also making chart successes for Bananarama, Donna Summer, Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney and many many more. I think blue plaque recognition is well overdue for this amazing success story. The building itself is still a pilgrimage for many pop fans and it would be wonderful to have it officially recognised. This year (2024) is the 40th anniversary of their first record so the timing would be perfect.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need more information.

John Davis

John Davis used the ragged school mission under the railway arch at Gedling Street when he took up the post of missionary there in the 1880’s.

Then in 1910 he used the same railway arch to form the London Branch. 60 veterans of the Civil War answered his call when he wrote to them inviting them to form a society. He was a unique individual in Bermondsey, proactive and tenacious. A real change agent not just for Civil War veterans but the community too. 137 men eventually joined and John helped many of them, and their widows get pensions from the US Government.

That railway arch became the home for Civil War veterans when they had quarterly meetings. Guests who attended were wide ranging and very important. American Politicians, former slaves, Bermondsey VIPS including Ambrose Pomeroy-Cragg and Robert Knox Bevington (the son of the borough mayor). He got numerous guest speakers from the United States to attend and speak to the veterans.

Beneath that unassuming railway arch local history was made and lives were changed for the better. All because of John Davis, the missionary from Blue Anchor Lane.

Apsley Pellatt and Co.

Blue Plaque Nominee with reason for nomination: Apsley Pellatt and Co., Falcon Glass Works, Holland Street, Blackfriars (Now gone). For developments in glass, including cameo incrustaceans.

For working with Michael Faraday here on developments in flint glass used for medical apparatus.

James Henderson

James Henderson (1823-1906). Not only did he found theSouth London Pressbut he alsostarted the first penny daily newspaper in the UK, the first halfpenny illustrated magazine, the largest circulation provincial newspaper (later bought by Randolph Hearst), and the first British comic. In addition he was the first publisher of R.L Stevenson’sTreasureIslandetc, employed the young Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe, founder of theDaily Mailand owner ofTheTimes) and even stood as MP for Dulwich. In addition, he built the road off Lordship Lane known as Mount Adon Park (and its original 10 houses), and my own house in Overhill Road stands on the site of his imposing villa, Adon Mount, which he built in 1864. Finally, theSouth London Presswill support my campaign with press coverage marking the bicentenary of its founder. For more information see my entry on Henderson in theOxfordDictionaryof National Biographyand articles by me in theDulwichDiverter,SLPandDulwich Society’s Journal.

Brian Catling

23 October 1948 – 26 September 2022) was a British sculptor, poet, novelist, film maker and performance artist. He was educated at North East London Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art. He held the post of Professor of Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford and was a fellow of Linacre College. He exhibited his work internationally since the 1970s. Some of his most notable works and performances included: Quill Two at Matt's Gallery, Dilston Grove in 2011, Antix at Matt's Gallery in 2006, a commissioned memorial to the Site of Execution, Tower of London in 2006, Vanished! A Video Seance made with screenwriter Tony Grisoni in 1999 and Cyclops at South London Gallery 1996.

Zdenka Pokorna

Zdenka was a Czechoslovakian teacher and an unswerving patriot. She was hailed on her 90th birthday as the “living conscience of the century “ by the Czech government.Born in Moravia, she was a lifelong patriot and never relinquished her Czech nationality. As a member of the anti-Nazi Czech resistance movement, she was sentenced to life imprisonment and survived a death march in 1945. Indeed her own family in Moravia did not recognise her on her return to the family home… it was only the family dog who did and greeted her joyously!Deprived of her post as Headmistress in Breclav in 1948, because of her Anti-Nazi stance, and suffering considerably as a result, she avoided imminent arrest by escaping to Austria. Her wartime credentials won her immediate entry into England where she retrained as a psychiatric nurse. She worked tirelessly in ex-patriot organisations. She was awarded the Czech Order of Merit, First Class by President Vaclav Havel for her outstanding work for her nation and upholding the ideals of freedom.She spent the rest of her long life ( she was almost 102 when she died), in Britain ( 12, Desenfans Road , Dulwich) from where she continued her campaigning.

Although she never returned to live on Czech territory she enjoyed from afar the end of the communist rule in 1989 and the opportunity to resume contact with her compatriots now living under democratic rule.

She was my neighbour in Desenfans Road and is remembered by many of the residents who still live here today. She was a force to be reckoned with, an incredible and remarkable character who had seen and experienced so much in her long life.She lived by her principles to the end.

Francis Rossi

Francis Rossi OBE . Lead singer of British rock band Status Quo.

 Connection to Southwark: Born in Forest Hill, Rossi has several links to the area. 

 He also got married at Peckham Registry Office. 

Rossi and Alan Lancaster were often spotted at the Peckham Settlement on Pitt Street.

Lived in Lordship Lane East Dulwich in the 1970’s. His eldest son was born in the 1970’s while he lived in the area. Has many connections to the area. Was often seen in the Peckham area near the Pitt street settlement.

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