Welcome to our new series, One Good Thing to Do Today. It’s a guide to little things you can actually do in lockdown London that will provide bits of light in these dark times. In this instalment, James Manning brushes up on his London history.
Historically a sculptural rolodex of dead white men, London’s official blue plaque scheme has been working over the past few years to mark more women and BAME Londoners. Visibility matters, and the latest crop of plaques pay tribute both to the properly famous (Bob Marley, Barbara Hepworth) and unsung heroes like wartime secret agent Noor Inayat Khan and abolitionist Ottobah Cugoano.
Design your own tour of the latest additions by checking out English Heritage’s blue plaque site: it has a list of plaques in each borough, plus spotlights on Black history and women pioneers, complete with a biography for every individual who’s commemorated. Or you could take a virtual tour with a specialist Blue Badge guide.
However you head out and discover them, these new plaques are a much-needed reminder that London has literally always been a multicultural city – sorry, racists. You’ll find out about the lesser-known heroes of London’s history – from footballers and Nobel laureates to nurses, spies and artists – and be able to feel less like you’re talking out of your arse next time there’s a massive national hoohah about problematic memorials.
Read more from our One Good Thing to Do Today series.
While you’re out, tour some of London’s best outdoor sculptures.