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Tributes to Wolverhampton's blue plaques founder

By Marion Brennan | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

Tributes have been paid to the pioneer of historic blue plaques in Wolverhampton, who has died aged 87.

Rudi Herbert, left, with Richard Rhodes and Simon Hill, boss of Wolverhampton Glass

Rudi Herbert was responsible for the commemorative plaques which grace buildings throughout the city on behalf of Wolverhampton Civic Society.The very first plaque to appear in the city was in memory of Thomas Graham, who founded the Express & Star in 1874.

After that first installation in 1983, plaques have gone up remembering people from all walks of life with associations with the city - among them Sir Charles Mander, opera singer Maggie Teyte, sculptor Sir Charles Wheeler and George Thorneycroft, the town's first mayor.

Mr Herbert, a retired polytechnic lecturer who lived in Wightwick, had seen the scheme operate in London and wanted to see a similar programme of blue plaques set up in Wolverhampton. He worked with his friend, the late Richard Rhodes, on the project.

He told the Express & Star in 1998: " I know London very well and have seen the plaques. I feel that in a town like Wolverhampton the people should be aware of their heritage. I hope people will look around, notice the plaques and learn something about the town.''

Barry Hodgson, current blue plaques secretary with the Wolverhampton Civic & Historical Society, met him in 1980 when he was studying for his teaching certificate at the Dudley campus of what was then Wolverhampton Polytechnic.

He said: "He was a very approachable and empathetic teacher, knowledgeable, and always cheerful and friendly.

"Many years later I took on the Wolverhampton blue civic plaques workload myself and became immediately aware of the standards of dedication and attention to detail that Rudi had set during his time of recording the history of Wolverhampton in this way."

Mr Herbert moved to Dorset in his retirement and a couple of years ago, Barry Hodgson was surprised to get a call from him, asking for up-to-date information on the Wolverhampton scheme.

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He said: "He intended to make a submission to his local county council in the south west, from his retirement home, to try to fire up a blue plaques scheme down there. It says a lot about the man that he was still setting up blue plaque schemes in his 80s, and he sounded as lively as ever."

Last week the city's 102nd blue plaque - to the amateur football competition The JW Hunt Cup - was unveiled at the Wolves' Stadium, and there are a further 36 waiting to be installed.

Mr Hodgson said: "He has left a proud legacy in Wolverhampton." Mr Herbert died on July 16.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan
@Marion_EStar

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.

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