They have become a familiar site on thousands of buildings across the country marking the former homes of Britain’s great and good. Blue plaques have been around since 1867 when the first was erected in Westminster at the birthplace of the poet, Byron. English Heritage is solely responsible for installing plaques in Greater London, and Woodford Green is home to two of them. One is outside the mock tudor house in Monkhams Avenue which once belonged to Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee (1883-1976), and the other is in Oak Hill Gardens where James Hilton (1900-1954), the author of Goodbye Mr Chips, lived. In Walthamstow a plaque under the arches at the Walthamstow Marsh Railway viaduct, marks the spot where Alliott Verdon Roe (1887-1958) assembled his Avro No. 1 triplane in which he made the first all-British powered flight. And the borough also has a blue plaque outside a house in Carnarvon Road in Walthamstow which was once home to Solomon Plaatje (1876-1932) a black South African writer and campaigner for African rights. But there is nothing to stop other organisations from erecting blue plaques of their own, and 34 have been put up by Loughton Town Council in the last 15 years. Chris Pond, the chairman of the Loughton Historical Society, paid for the first of these plaques to go up on his own home in Staples Road, where the Reverend Robert Hunter (1823-1897) lived. Dr Pond said: “He was a missionary, a naturalist and a lexicographer – what the Victorians called a polymath. “I wanted to get the plaque up for the centenary of Hunter’s death and offered to pay for it to give the town council a bit of a push. It cost me £175.” Since then plaques have gone up in the town to commemorate figures as diverse as popular pianist Gladys Mills (1918 – 1978) (affectionately known as Mrs Mills) and Jacob Epstein (1880 -1959) one of the 20th century’s leading sculptors. Dr Pond said: “Unlike English Heritage we don’t insist on the original building being there. “That requirement is why you see comparatively few of their plaques in the suburbs, because for the most part the houses have been redeveloped.” “We are very proud of the scheme, but of course I am also very sad to hear what is happening with English Heritage’s plaques. “They add so much to the tourist and visitor experience.” A spokesman for English Heritage insisted that its scheme was not being axed, adding: “Our focus over the next two years will be to reduce a backlog of plaques that have already been agreed and to lay the foundations for a long-term future that reduces the cost to the tax payer.”