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Karen James unveils the plaque watched attentively by, from left, Tony Davis, Jim Breeds and Andy Gunton (Mark Richards).

Poly Styrene gets Hastings’ first musical blue plaque

Unhappy at the lack of recognition of the rich musical heritage of the Hastings area, music enthusiasts Jim Breeds, Tony Davis and Andy Gunton got together to form 1066 Music Blue Plaques. The late punk rock and feminist icon Poly Styrene is the first to be commemorated. Andy Gunton explains.

Saturday 3 July saw the unveiling of a blue plaque on the former home of punk rock and feminist icon Poly Styrene in North Street, St Leonards-on-Sea.

Poly Styrene had lived in the house from 2004, until she sadly died of breast cancer in nearby St Michael’s Hospice in April 2011.

The 3 July date was chosen for the unveiling of the blue plaque as it would have been Poly’s 64th birthday, and was also the 45th anniversary of Poly seeing the Sex Pistols on Hastings Pier, an event that led to the formation of her band X-Ray Spex.

And a film

Saturday also saw the first public screening of a film about Poly’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.

Photo: Kevin Boorman.

The blue plaque was unveiled by Karen James, who now owns the house in North Street, following a short speech by myself.

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.

Instant appeal

We raised the money for the Poly Styrene’s blue plaque via a Crowdfunder appeal, which 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.

1066 Music Blue Plaques is made up of three local music fans Jim Breeds, Tony Davis and myself. We formed the group after a Facebook conversation bemoaning the lack of commemorative blue plaques in the Hastings area to celebrate the rich musical heritage of the area.

We decided to see if that situation could be corrected, and set out to explore the possibilities of getting some blue plaques erected.

Our next campaign is to erect a blue plaque on the former home of singer-songwriter and guitarist John Martyn in Hastings Old Town, for which we hope to launch a Crowdfunder appeal very shortly.

 

For further information please see:
1066 Music Blue Plaques Facebook page.

 

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Posted 19:34 Wednesday, Jul 7, 2021 In: Hastings People

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