This week i have received confirmation from Pontefract and District Civic Society that they would happily include a blue plaque for Arthur Wharton in their own blue plaque scheme. Football Unites, Racism divides (who work closely with the national Football Association and have been at the forefront of the drive for recognition of Arthur Wharton) have also confirmed to me that they are very welcoming of the scheme. So, it seems there certainly is support for such a scheme at a heritage level. Today i wrote to South Kirkby and Moorthorpe Town Council to update them on the current status of the project and to ask them to consider the situation. Is there support for the scheme at local government level? We shall see. My letter to South Kirkby and Moorthorpe Town Council is below:
I wrote to you a short while ago regarding the potential blue plaque scheme and the case for having a plaque to one of South Kirkby and Moorthorpe’s most famous residents put in place. Arthur Wharton, the former record sprinter, cricketer and first black professional footballer lived at 105 Clifford Street with his wife Emma in the 1911 census and worked in one of the local collieries. I have received confirmation from Pontefract Civic Society that they would be more than happy to back the plaque idea and include him on their own scheme. They have proposed the cost will be around £500 to £600.
Football Unites Racism Divides are also very much in support of the scheme, and have said they would be happy to provide materials to educate and support to the cause should it go ahead. They are a driving force behind the recent rise in the profile of Arthur Wharton and work closely with the Football Association. They have also pointed out that local employer, Asda, may be a potential avenue for becoming a local partner and providing some funds to the cause, I will approach Asda in the future.
I am writing to ask for your thoughts on the matter. 105 Clifford Street is privately owned but there are open spaces such as the small playground nearby where a plaque could be located should the current owners not welcome the scheme. At present it is not clear which Colliery Arthur worked at, or if he played sports for our teams, though the fact that he played for Rotherham Town in a high level at cricket (including against South Kirkby) as late as 1907 and football for Denaby and Rotherham Main as late as 1907 and evidence exists of him participating in races and charity matches as late as 1916 show he wouldn’t have simply stopped playing when he lived in our Parish. I am working at present to uncover more about his life in our area, I will update you when I have such information.
At present I merely ask how receptive/supportive of the scheme would the Parish council be? Very little would need to be done by yourselves, naturally I would happily carry on with my work on the project with you as a key partner.