The latest Marchmont Association blue plaque has been unveiled, at the former home (from 1832 to 1840) of Robert Owen, father of the Co-operative Movement.
The plaque was jointly unveiled by the Mayor of Camden, Councillor Nadia Shah, Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, Professor Greg Claeys, the worlds foremost authority on Owen, and Iain Macdonald of New Lanark in Scotland, the utopian settlement established by Owen and now a World Heritage Centre. Mayo – a former director of the New Economics Foundation – said Owen was a “genuine radical” and that the co-operative movement was a “practical expression of his ideas”.
Other VIPs included Pat Brandwood, Curator of the Robert Owen Museum in Wales, where Owen was born, and Josephine Bacon and Glenn Barnham, both Co-operative Council Members. Eilleen Donnelly represented the Co-op Bank and Phil Turner the Co-operative Party. Peter Twist represented Camden’s Tour Guides.
The Marchmont Association is grateful to One Housing for sponsoring this plaque and for permitting it to be installed on their beautiful house at 4 Burton Place. Appropriately, One Housig still uses the listed building for social housing.
Coverage featured in the Camden New Journal – with John Gulliver commenting, “I’m not sure whether schoolchildren today learn about this great man but his ideas have far greater lasting importance than many of those of kings and queens that form part of the staple diet of today’s curriculum in schools. He argued that people were naturally good and in the right environment could become rational, good and humane people – views I confess I share.”
Our only disappointment was that Owen’s great, great, great, great grandson, Owen Lewis, was unable to join us from New Harmony, Indiana, USA, although he hopes to visit London to see his famous ancestor’s home later this year.