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Blue plaque winners

Blue plaque winners 2006

Harry Cole

Local volunteer, policeman and writer

Born and brought up in Bermondsey, south London , Harry Cole left school during World War Two when he was 14 and became a cricket-bat maker, soldier and stonemason before joining the Metropolitan Police in 1952.

For thirty years, until he retired in 1983, Harry served at Carter Street Police Station in Walworth Road as a police constable. He became a well known and popular figure in the local community and, after retirement, a national celebrity when he wrote many books, including a series of best selling memoirs about his experiences as a bobby on the beat in Walworth. These include Policeman's Lot , Policeman's Patch, Policeman's Story, Policeman's Patrol and Policeman's Progress. Poignant and entertaining, this series also provides rare published accounts of the life and times of a London policeman in the 21st century.

In addition to his Policeman series, Harry wrote Policeman's Prelude, an autobiographical account of his childhood and teenage years in Bermondsey before and during the war. His novels include Queenie, Billie's Bunch and Julia's War.

Harry's books are still in print and available to borrow from Southwark Libraries in various formats including sound recordings and large print.

In 1978 Harry was awarded the British Empire Medal for voluntary work. He has a weekly column in the South London Press.

What our voters think

"I took over from Harry as a Home Beat Officer when he retired, having worked with him for the previous last 5 years of his service. A truly unique officer and wonderful person, with his commitment to his charitable works and his gift for writing and story telling. I feel that Henry Cole, H to his friends is truly deserving of this honour." David Skinner

"I worked with Harry Cole 20+ years ago at Carter Street and found him to be a great character. Harry's books are a great read full of life and laughter. His radio broadcasts are good too. Harry is always cheerful and ready to help or bring a cheery story. What a great man and what a great character!" Heather Molnar

Manze's pie and mash shop, Tower Bridge

Providing  London 's most traditional food to people in Southwark for over 100 years.

Manze's pie and mash shop in Peckham was awarded a Blue Plaque in 2005 and this year the Tower Bridge shop is up for nomination.

In 1878 three-year-old Michele Manze arrived in Britain from a picturesque hillside village called Ravello in southern Italy . The Manze family settled in Bermondsey and began trading as ice-merchants, turning later to ice-cream makers.

Realising the need for more substantial food in Edwardian London, Michele branched into the pie, mash and eel trade and the first shop to bear his name opened in 1902 at 87 Tower Bridge Road . The tiled surroundings, white marble tables, ornate mirrors and hard, narrow wooden benches are typical of such shops and remain to this day.

Michele went on to open four other shops. Several of Michele's brothers followed his lead and by 1930 there were a total of 14 pie, mash and eel shops in London bearing the Manze name. Michele Manze died in 1932 and his son, Lionel, took over the running of the two surviving shops at Tower Bridge Road and Peckham High Street.

At one time such shops were widespread across the borough. Only a few now remain, and those run by the Manze family are particularly well known. A few years ago, the Museum of London ran an exhibition on the subject and published a book.

Octavia Hill

Social housing reformer and founder of the National Trust and the Southwark Cadet Corps.

Octavia Hill was born in 1838 and at the age of 26, and with £3,000 provided by her friend John Ruskin, Ms Hill launched her career as a housing manager. She was particularly interested in creating "well ordered, quiet little homes behind neat little doors" and was completely against dreary tenements.

She helped her poverty-stricken tenants to find jobs in order to pay their rent and encouraged them to save, giving them advice when needed. The Mint was one of the worst areas of the borough and here on a derelict paper factory in Redcross Way she built six gabled cottages around a small garden. The cottages were just one of many projects Octavia took on and in 1895 she co-founded the National Trust.

She went on to persuade the authorities to renovate old tenements and where possible to build picturesque cottages.

In 1889 Octavia Hill founded the Southwark Cadet Corps. Colonel Salmond of the Derbyshire Regiment did the practical work in Southwark, and she even persuaded Viscount Wolseley to preside at the first meeting of the Southwark Corps in 1889. The Corps attracted 160 cadets with many refused and cadet drill was held at Red Cross Hall.

In 1890 the corps band took part in the Lord Mayor's Procession which helped encourage and increase membership. Octavia Hill had problems persuading the war office to pay for brighter uniforms than the dull green that the parent unit wore. Ingenious to the last she wrote to Eton College suggesting a link between their Hackney Wick Mission Corps and that in Southwark. They accepted and helped pay for a smart red uniform which Octavia felt would do much to cheer the dull Southwark streets. Southwark's Local History Library holds two volumes of enrolments for the cadets, for 1892-95 and 1908-14 and also a scrapbook for 1897-99.

Eventually, after tireless work, Octavia retired to her home in Kent and died in 1912.

What our voters think

"Octavia was a radical thinker and more importantly a doer! Her belief in the need to better the lives of those less advantaged is an enduring principle that still inspires many thousands of people today. The project at the Red Cross Cottages is an excellent example of how she worked, sometimes on a very small scale, to make a real difference to people's lives. At a time when issues of housing quality and access to green space are once again at the forefront of our minds it could not be a more appropriate time to honour her achievement and highlight the issues she cared about." Ian Wilson, London Area Manager, The National Trust

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Blue plaques

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