Wisbech museum honours key supporter

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A new plaque has been unveiled in memory of one of the key drivers of the project to preserve the Wisbech birthplace of social reformer Octavia Hill.

The memorial to Norman Burgess was unveiled during a ceremony at the South Brink site on Sunday, which was attended by several members of his family.

His widow, Betty, said: “It was a memorable day never to be forgotten by any of us.

“May the museum continue to go from strength to strength.”

Mr Burgess, who died in 2004, was a former school headmaster and chairman of the Finchley Society in the town where Octavia spent her childhood years after leaving Wisbech.

Through the group, he supported the efforts to preserve the house for future generations.

Peter Clayton, chairman of the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum Trust, said: “Norman was able to bring here coach loads of members of the Finchley Society, which supported us at a critical time when it was necessary to show how important Octavia’s work was beyond Wisbech.”

The new plaque has been placed in the Heroes’ Arcade, in the gardens of the house, alongside others that remember the area’s war heroes and other nationally-important figures who might otherwise have been forgotten.

Museum officials are planning to launch a new education project based around the arcade this autumn, in which they intend to work with local schools.

Members of Mr Burgess’ family travelled from as far afield as Ireland to attend the ceremony.

And Mrs Burgess said they would be back again in the future.

She said: “None of them realized until today how much help and influence Norman had at the beginning of the project up to his death in 2004.

“They all enjoyed the ceremony and heard how the Birthplace House came about and is doing well with various outings, talks and visitors.

“From today they all said there is so much to see and learn from the Birthplace House that another visit in the near future is a must.”