It seems that plaques are all the rage of late in Ealing. Fred Perry, the last great English tennis player (apologies Tim Henman) whose name lives on in the casual aertex sports shirts that were so integral tothe 80s mod revival and worn by the famous for ages has a plaque unveiled to him at the Brentham Club in Ealing today. Full story is here at Ealing Today. Here is what the plaque looks like:
The Brentham club itself is significant as it was a community facility for residents of the Brentham estate, a pioneering garden suburb of homes fit for heroes. It inspired later variants like Bedford Park, Bournville and the better-known Hampstead Garden suburb. Greg Rosen mentions it in his book Serving the People, a majestic account of the British Co-operative Party (with an introduction by Gordon Brown) as it was on the Brentham Club’s tennis courts that Fred P learned to play tennis and his dad Sam Perry was the Co-operative party national secretary and Fred worked at the national party HQ. How amazing that sporting heroes used to have political consciences in the first half of the last century. In the book the clean air, model community and general quality of life are described favourably compared to the Lancashire milltowns wherethe Perrys started off before their relocation. As Rosen has stated the Co-op store is a fixture on the suburban high street and mutualism as a force in British politics is an idea that even David Cameron has attempted to co-opt but this is where it all began.
I won’t be there myself as I’m speaking at a conference at Westminster University on (you guessed it) suburbia. Details of that are here. The plaque’s errection nonetheless is long overdue in honouring this significant figure at this significant site. In case you’ve forgotten, the other recent Ealing plaque story this one joinswas the one dedicated to the spot where rhthym and blues was first played in the UK at Ealing club, Ealing Broadway. A reminder of that one is here: