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New plaques are unveiled on the Famous Names of Farnham wall

Two males unveil a plaque

Two new names have been revealed this summer on the Famous Names of Farnham wall in South Street. The wall features plaques bearing the names of men and women connected with Farnham who have achieved great things.

Family and friends gathered in South Street on 18 August to see the unveiling of a plaque for Michael Blower MBE FRIBA FRSA, former councillor and Mayor of Waverley, Surrey County councillor and architect. Michael has committed decades of his life to recording and preserving west Surrey’s architectural heritage. Some of the key buildings where Michael has played an important role include the Farnham Maltings, the Farnham Pottery, the Victoria Garden and the New Ashgate Gallery.

In a glowing tribute to Michael Blower, the Mayor of Farnham, Councillor Alan Earwaker described how Mr Blower’s ‘professional and voluntary leadership in the preservation and conservation of historic buildings over half a century has created a better place for future generations in Farnham’. He said: “I think it is fair to say that Michael has been pre-eminent in making a case for the preservation and restoration of Farnham’s cultural heritage.  He has done this formally through his immense contribution to the Farnham Society, and the Farnham Building Preservation Trust and informally through his delightful watercolours and environmental viewpoint column in the Farnham Herald.”

He added “His approach has not only embraced the past but recognises the requirement for the new; to maintain vibrancy and commercial sustainability whilst improving the town as a beautiful place for people to live, with facilities for them to enjoy.”

After saying a few words of thanks, Michael Blower presented one of his sketches to the Mayor which captured the scene in South Street before the Famous Names wall was built.

The second Famous Names of Farnham plaque was unveiled in July and is for Russ Mantle, a world class cyclist who is the first Briton to cycle 1,000,000 miles. The Mayor of Farnham said: “Among other accomplishments Russ won 28 open time trials during his racing career which began in the 1950s and he holds a plethora of local records. Throughout his lifetime he has been an active member of Farnham and Surrey cycling clubs and at 85 continues to ride.”

Russ joined Farnham Road Club in 1952 and remains a member today. When he completed his millionth mile in 2019 in nearby Mytchett, Hampshire, he was overwhelmed with the attention it drew saying the miles had “naturally piled up” because he enjoyed cycling so much. 

The wall of famous names proudly displays the names of 28 people who were born, lived or were educated in Farnham or who established their careers in the area. Names include well known historic names, including Florence Nightingale and Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as contemporary people such as paralympian Rachel Morris and rugby player Jonny Wilkinson.

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