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Blue Plaque for Henry Butt unveiled

by mikebell on 23 January, 2018

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.

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