East Sussex punk rock icon remembered with blue plaque

A blue plaque has been unveiled on the former home of punk rock and feminist icon Poly Styrene in North Street, St Leonards On Sea.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 2:16 pm
Poly Styrene blue plaque pic by Mark Richards

Poly Styrene lived in the house from 2004 until she died of breast cancer in nearby St Michael’s Hospice in April 2011.

The plaque was unveiled on what would have been Poly’s 64th birthday – and also the 45th anniversary of Poly seeing the Sex Pistols on Hastings Pier, an event that led to the formation of her band X-Ray Spex.

The day also saw the first public screening of a film about Poly Styrene’s life I Am A Cliche at the Kino Teatr in St Leonards, just a few streets away from her former home.

I Am A Cliche was made by Poly’s daughter Celeste Bell, who was present at the unveiling.

The blue plaque was unveiled by Karen James who now owns the house in North Street following a short speech by Andy Gunton of 1066 Music Blue Plaques.

The ceremony was also attended by Kevin Boorman of Hastings Borough Council who helped guide the 1066 Music Blue Plaques team through the early stages of their campaign.

The blue plaque was erected by Andy Miller of local company Booker & Best, who donated their time and materials free of charge.

The blue plaque on Poly Styrene’s former home is the first in a campaign by 1066 Music Blue Plaques to celebrate and commemorate the lives of local musicians and lost music venues in the Hastings area.

The group raised the money for the Poly Styrene blue plaque via a Crowdfunder appeal.

The appeal was so successful that the money needed was raised within five hours of the launch.

Although initially asking for only £500, the appeal finally raised £760, which enabled 1066 Music Blue Plaques to donate £350 to St Michael’s Hospice, a cheque for which was presented to James Beeching from St Michael’s Hospice at the unveiling ceremony.

1066 Music Blue Plaques is made up of three music fans Jim Breeds, Tony Davis and Andy Gunton, who formed the group after a Facebook conversation bemoaning the lack of commemorative blue plaques in the Hastings area to celebrate the rich musical heritage of the area.

They decided to see if that situation could be corrected and set out to explore the possibilities of getting some blue plaques erected.

Their next campaign is to erect a blue plaque on the former home of singer-songwriter and guitarist John Martyn in Hastings Old Town.

They hope to launch a Crowdfunder appeal for the plaque very shortly.