8 March 2021
Two important women in the city’s history have been honoured with blue plaques.
The first is dedicated to philanthropist and Royal Sailors Rests founder Agnes ‘Aggie’ Weston (1840-1918).
Located by the entrance to Endurance Court in Devonport’s Oceansgate development, the plaque has been positioned opposite the site where the Royal Sailors Rests buildings originally stood before they were destroyed in the Blitz in 1941.
London-born Weston spent more than two decades living and working among the sailors of the Royal Navy. As well as co-founding two Royal Sailors Rests in Plymouth with fellow philanthropist Sophia Wintz (1847-1929), they also set one up in Portsmouth.
Weston campaigned tirelessly to improve the lot of her beloved ‘bluejackets’ and even published a book in 1909 about her work with them. Her other accomplishments include the establishment of a monthly magazine called ‘Ashore and Afloat’ as well as many temperance societies on naval ships.
She was appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 1918 in recognition of her achievements. When she passed away later that year she became the first woman to be granted full naval honours at her funeral.
The second plaque has been installed on a private residence in Alfred Street near the Hoe in memory of the much-loved Plymouth artist Beryl Cook OBE (1926-2008).
Born in Surrey in 1926, Cook moved to Plymouth in 1968 and held her first exhibition at Plymouth Arts Centre in 1975. Her paintings, many of which feature locations and scenes of Plymouth, are hugely popular and can be found in private and public collections around the world.
Alfred Street was her final home. Between 1968 and 1998 she also lived nearby, in Athenaeum Street.
Plymouth City Council Leader, Tudor Evans OBE said:
With International Women’s Day being celebrated across the globe today and Women’s History Month being marked in a number of countries throughout March, this is a great time to unveil these plaques. Aggie Weston and Beryl Cook both left their mark on Plymouth and helped put the city on the map in their own distinctive ways. I’m thrilled to see these added to our growing number of historical plaques, all of which highlight the stories of famous and lesser-known Plymouth people who achieved great things during their lifetimes.
You can find out more about many of Plymouth’s historical plaques.