Weston-super-Mare Town Council has unveiled another blue plaque, this time for Henry Butt.
Henry Butt was voted by the residents of Weston to be the next recipient of a blue plaque. At the unveiling on Friday, the Mayor Councillor Jos Holder was joined by Councillor John Crockford Hawley, Chairman of the Museum and Heritage Sub-Committee, the Mayoress, three of Henry Butt’s Great Grandchildren, Tanya Milne, Beverley Lloyd-Jones and Paul Kelson, and representatives of Weston Civic Society who funded the plaque.
Henry Butt was the first Mayor of Weston, and one of the town’s real characters.
He was born in 1861 the son of a Langport coal and timber merchant. Not satisfied working for someone else, by 1890 he’d taken ownership of a Weston haulier and coal merchant business, where he converted numerous hillside properties into ‘Mansions’ of well-proportioned flats. He also acquired Milton Quarry
Election to Somerset County and Weston Urban District Councils gave him access to the decision making process through which he worked tirelessly for the town’s benefit.
Controversy arose when the quarry’s heavy Foden steam lorries churned up local roads. The council prosecuted. Butt defended himself right up to the Court of Appeal and on losing not only settled with grace but, to show no hard feelings, helped finance acquisition of Rogers’ Field between High Street and the seafront for development of the Italian Gardens and Winter Gardens. When local Rotarians wanted to open a home in South Road for underprivileged boys it was Butt who kicked off the appeal with a £1,200 donation. He then acquired Monks’ Steps, presented them to the National Trust and was instrumental in founding nearby Worlebury Golf Club. By far his greatest gift to Weston was as self-appointed fund raiser for a new hospital in the Boulevard. He cajoled businessmen and friends, spoke tirelessly at public meetings and even buttonholed passengers whilst on a world cruise. He personally raised £60,000 (about £2m today) for the project. Opened by the Duke and Duchess of York in July 1928 this Queen Alexandra Memorial Hospital served Weston until replaced by a new facility at Uphill in 1986.
When the King granted borough status to Weston-super- Mare in 1937 Henry Butt became Charter Mayor – and it was he who paid for the chain and much of the municipal plate.
Councillor Crockford-Hawley described Henry Butt as:
“an ego-centric rough diamond who frequently irritated the more staid local establishment but he was one for getting things done. It is fitting that when the former hospital was converted to residential housing it was called Henry Butt House, where the Town Council has placed the blue plaque. “
For further information please contact: Tricia Brabham, Communications Officer, 01934 632567, Tricia.Brabham@wsm-tc.gov.uk
Notes to editors
- Weston-super-Mare Town council was established in 2000 and is the ‘parish’ council for the town. We are made up of 31 elected town councillors and are the only democratically elected body that exclusively represents the people of the town. We are the second largest civil parish council in England and Wales (by population).
- Henry Butt’s blue plaque is the first of 12 voted for by the people of Weston. Dr Edward Long Fox, Roald Dahl and leading suffragette Emmeline Pethwick Lawrence are among those who will also receive blue plaques. The full list is on the town council website https://www.wsm-tc.gov.uk/community/blue-plaques/
- Paulo Radmilovic was the first recipient of a blue plaque. In 1908 Raddy won Gold as part of the British water polo team and in those same games he also triumphed as a last minute stand-in by winning Gold in the 4×200 metre relay race. His third Gold came in the 1912 Olympics with a fourth in the 1920 Antwerp games ….. though a final whistle ruling in favour of Raddy’s goal and against the home team required Belgian police to give armed protection to the British victors! He participated in the Olympics of 1924 and 1928 before retiring at the age of 42, when he became manager of the Imperial – where the blue plaque is located.