On November 27, 2020, a blue plaque was installed at the house of Dr Abdus Salam in London by English Heritage. The London Blue Plaque scheme is believed to be the oldest of its kind in the world and celebrates notable figures and the places they lived and worked.
English Heritage cares for over 400 British historic monuments, buildings and places – from world-famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edges of an empire to a Cold War bunker.
Physicist and Champion of Science, Abdus Salam, awarded new plaque – – Approximately 15% of London blue plaques are to scientists
London’s famous blue plaques link the people of the past with the buildings of the present. Now run by English Heritage, the London blue plaques scheme was started in 1866 and is thought to be the oldest of its kind in the world.
Across the capital over 950 plaques, on buildings humble and grand, honour the notable men and women who have lived or worked in them. Discover some of the people commemorated with blue plaques, or search for a plaque, below.
The call comes as English Heritage unveiled a blue plaque to the Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist, Abdus Salam, house in Putney on November 27. The Pakistani scientist’s work on electroweak theory contributed to the discovery of the Higgs-Boson Particle – the ‘God Particle’ which gives everything mass. Salam was also active in improving the status of science in developing countries in general and Pakistan in particular.
Abdus Salam joins Charles Darwin, Rosalind Franklin and Alan Turing among the scientists with blue plaques but within the London Blue Plaques scheme, science is an underrepresented field with only around 15% of the 950 plus blue plaques across the capital dedicated to scientists. The scheme relies on nominations so if there is to be an increase in the number of blue plaques to scientists on the streets of the capital, English Heritage needs more suggestions from the public of figures who have London buildings in which they lived or worked still standing.
English Heritage Blue Plaques Panel member and Historian of Science,
Rebekah Higgitt said: “This year the importance of scientists and their work has become abundantly clear. And yet we have relatively few blue plaques to physicists, chemists, biologists and other scientific figures, reflecting the scheme’s historic bias towards celebrating the arts over the sciences. We want to see more blue plaques to such brilliant and inspiring figures as Abdus Salam but we need the public’s help.
Putney, which served as Salam’s London base from 1957 until he died in 1996. It was his home when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979. The red- brick Edwardian house included a study where amongst his books (including his favourite Wodehouse novels), incense stands and record player, Salam would think and write while listening to long-playing records of Koranic verses and an eclectic variety of music by composers ranging from Strauss to Gilbert and Sullivan.
Abdus Salam’s son, Ahmad Salam, said: “The fact that most of the plaque is taken up with the words ‘Champion of Science in Developing Countries’ would have made my father very happy. For him, above all else, that was the legacy he wanted to impart. To be honoured in this way would have been truly humbling to a man who believed ‘scientific thought and its creation is the common and shared heritage of mankind.’ This was a belief fully supported by the ideals, freedoms and values he found here in England. He loved the intellectual freedom, religious freedom and the respect for people of education.”