Congratulations to Bibbs Cameron and Mark Stewart, the two members who, on behalf of the Society, organised the blue plaque project honouring the Shrewsbury-born artist Margaret Agnes Rope. The plaque is now securely attached high on one of the exterior walls of Shrewsbury Colleges Group (Welsh Bridge campus), and can easily be seen by passers-by walking the river path.
This is the first-ever blue plaque to an individual that Shrewsbury Civic Society has commissioned.
The ceremony to formally recognise the plaque took place in the afternoon of November 1st 2018 with a gathering of the great & the good. Among those present were other society members, including Jenny Brook (who remembered when she used to teach on this site when it was the Priory School), Jennifer Farlow the historian, and Byron Grainger-Jones, the Society chairman, who also cut the ceremonial ribbon.
From Shrewsbury Museum, we welcomed Jane Morgan; from Shrewsbury Cathedral, Veronica Schnyder-Kenny; from BBC Shropshire, Maggie Connell and Paul Shuttleworth; and from Shrewsbury Town Council, councillors Nat Green and David Vasmer. Nat, whose community-fund contributed to the costs of the plaque, stressed that, even in times of austerity, arts & heritage should not be forgotten by politicians.
The most moving speech came from James Staniforth, the joint-colleges principal. He said that, in approving the project, he thought of his own daughters, who didn’t have to face the societal prejudices that women such as Margaret Rope had had to face one hundred years ago. Nevertheless, he said, it was well to remember the example set in the strength of lone women such as Margaret – and that the struggle for women’s equality was not yet fully achieved.
We were fortunate too that this event did not go unreported. BBC Radio Shropshire covered the event, as did the St Gabriel’s Press Agency. So, with luck, this story will ripple outwards to the rest of the county – and perhaps the country!
Photos by Bill Tomaszewski