Frustrated by the lack of recognition of the town’s rich musical heritage, music enthusiasts Andy Gunton, Jim Breeds and Tony Davis decided to do something about it and between them they’ve set up 1066 Music Blue Plaques and on Saturday the late punk rock and feminist icon Poly Styrene was the first to be commemorated.
A Blue Plaque was unveiled on her former home in North Street, St Leonards. Poly Styrene had lived in the house from 2004, until she died from breast cancer in nearby St Michael’s Hospice in April 2011.
The July 3rd date was chosen for the unveiling of the plaque as that would have been Poly’s 64th birthday, and was also the 45th anniversary of her seeing the Sex Pistols on Hastings Pier, an event that led to the formation of her band X-Ray Spex.
Saturday also saw the first public screening of a film about Poly Styrene’s life I Am A Cliche at the Kino Teatr in St Leonards, just a few streets away from her former home. I Am A Cliche was made by Poly’s daughter Celeste Bell, who was present at the unveiling.
The blue plaque was unveiled by Karen James who now owns the house in North Street, following a short speech by Andy Gunton of 1066 Music Blue Plaques.
The ceremony was also attended by Kevin Boorman of Hastings Borough Council who helped guide the 1066 Music Blue Plaques team through the early stages of their campaign. The blue plaque was erected by Andy Miller of local company Booker & Best, who donated their time and materials free of charge.
The blue plaque on Poly Styrene’s former home is the first in a campaign by 1066 Music Blue Plaques to celebrate and commemorate the lives of local musicians, and lost music venues in the Hastings area. The group raised the money for the Poly Styrene’s blue plaque via a Crowdfunder appeal. The appeal was so successful that the money needed was raised within five hours of the launch.
Although initially asking for only £500, the appeal finally raised £760, which enabled 1066 Music Blue Plaques to donate £350 to St Michael’s Hospice, a cheque for which was presented to James Beeching from the Hospice at the unveiling ceremony.
Their next campaign for 1066 Music Blue Plaques is to erect a blue plaque on the former home of singer-songwriter & guitarist John Martyn in Hastings Old Town, they hope to launch a Crowdfunder appeal for that plaque very shortly.