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Two more blue plaques

Blue plaques to commemorate notable one-time residents of the borough have been erected in Walthamstow. One of the very first Labour MPs, Pete Curran, has been recognised with a plaque on his former home, as has acclaimed British jazz clarinettist and bandleader Dave Shepherd.

Pete Curran represented Jarrow as a Member for Parliament from 1907 to 1910. His family home was at 1 Pretoria Avenue in Walthamstow and he is buried in Leytonstone cemetery.

His great grandson, Graham Reeve, contacted Waltham Forest Council about erecting a plaque, having previously organised a commemoration at Leytonstone cemetery 100 years after he was buried.

“He is not so well known as other Labour historical figures and is a ‘forgotten man’ of the early days of the Labour Party and the Trade Union movement,” explained Mr Reeve.

“In addition to be being the first Labour MP in the north east of England, he was the Chair of the First Management Committee of the General Federation of Trade Unions in 1899 and was imprisoned for a time for his trade union activities.

“At his funeral, 10,000 people lined the local streets and the mourners included Ramsey Macdonald. There is a recent biography entitled the ‘Life and Times of Pete Curran’ written by Ron Curran (no relation) which includes a foreword written by Neil Kinnock.”

While Pete Curran may no longer be with us, Dave Shepherd is alive and well and attended the erection of the plaque to him at 27 Brookdale Road in Walthamstow. While he was born at the address on 7 February 1929, he also lived close by in Greenleaf Road and later in Perth Road, Leyton.

“I feel very honoured and grateful. It’s just a shame there isn’t more of my family around to see it,” he said. Dave started playing at 16 and was inspired after going to a gig in Chingford to watch another local jazz dignitary who was honoured with a new blue plaque just last year – John Dankworth.

“I lived in the borough until I was 18 when I joined the army,” Dave told Waltham Forest News. “I was only in this house until I was four years old, but it’s certainly where it all started.”

For further information about heritage plaques, listed buildings and conservation areas in Waltham Forest go to the Council’s website at www.walthamforest.gov.ukPhoto: Dave Shepherd holding his blue plaque before it is erected at his birthplace in Brookdale Road, Walthamstow.

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