Blue Plaque – Sarah Siddons

The “Greatest British Actress”, Sarah Siddons, 1755 – 1831

Sarah Siddons (nee Kemble) was the eldest of 12 children of Roger and Sarah Kemble, a Worcestershire family who led a troupe of travelling actors. Through her mother’s care in sending her to the schools in the towns where the company played, Sarah received a remarkably good education, even though she was accustomed to making appearances on the stage while still a child. She and her brother attended Thorneloe House in Barbourne, Worcester.

Aged 18 and newly married to a fellow actor, she was playing Rosalind in As You Like It in a barn in Worcester when theatrical producer David Garrick offered her an engagement. When she appeared with him at Drury Lane, London, she suffered from stage fright and was a failure, but in 1782 she appeared again to great acclaim and for many years played tragic roles to perfection, never comedy.

William Hazlitt wrote that “passion emanated from her breast as from a shrine. She was tragedy personified.”

The Blue Plaque above the coffee shop opposite the Guildhall celebrates the location of the ‘Barn’ where she performed, in the yard of the King’s Head public house. The plaque was unveiled on 12th August 2020 by the Mayor of Worcester, Councillor Jo Hodges.

Blue Plaque – Jim Capaldi

A BLUE plaque to honour rock star Jim Capaldi, one of Evesham’s most famous musical sons, has been unveiled on the wall of the Town Hall, where he made some of his earliest appearances in the 1960s.

After starting out with local group The Sapphires, Jim progressed through Worcester-based outfits The Hellions and Deep Feeling, before becoming a founder member of progressive rock band Traffic, which enjoyed considerable chart success. He later had a successful solo recording career and became a campaigner on environmental and child poverty issues.

Some Jim’s former band colleagues were there for the unveiling, which had been arranged by his former partner Anna Capaldi-Gibley through the Civic Societies of Worcester and the Vale of Evesham and was carried out by his brother Phil,  himself a noted drummer and music teacher.

“This is a great thing as a tribute to Jim and for all those who remember him when he was growing up around here,“ said Phil. “And its great that we have been able to unveil the plaque on what would have been his 76th birthday.”  Anna added: “I just wanted to do this for Jim’s brother and sisters so there will always be a place in Evesham for him.”

Jim Capaldi was 60 when he died of cancer in London in 2005 and his ashes were flown over to India and scattered on The Ganges river. He was born into a musical family. His father Nic was a well known local musician and music teacher and young Jim followed in his footsteps, founding his first band The Sapphires when he was only 14. Evesham Town Hall was one of their regular gigs, along with other nearby venues in the town centre.

In 1963 he formed The Hellions, which included Dave Mason, Gordon Jackson and John “Poli” Palmer, and then Deep Feeling, which drew in Dave Meredith and Luther Grosvenor. Both groups made several records, but it wasn’t until the formation of Traffic in early 1967 that Jim tasted real success.

This band featured Steve Winwood, from chart toppers The Spencer Davis Group, and its first release “Paper Sun”, with the lyrics written by Jim, was a Top Five hit in the summer of 1967 – nostalgically remembered as the Summer of Love. Traffic built a reputation as one of one of the UK’s finest progressive groups and had several hit records, but with Steve struggling with health problems, Jim took time out for solo projects and in 1975 reached number four in the charts with his version of the Everly Brothers “Love Hurts”. Among his many other achievements, he wrote the soundtrack to the award winning film “The Contender”.

Jim married Brazilian-born Aninha E S Campos in 1975 and lived in Brazil for several years.  He became involved in environmental causes and action to help Brazilian street children. Because of this charity work, the Capaldis were guests of Tony Blair at the Prime Minister’s country house, Chequers. Jim also remained much involved with the music industry – recording 11 solo albums featuring the likes of George HarrisonSteve WinwoodPaul Weller and Gary Moore – and was preparing to work on plans for a reunion tour of Traffic when cancer finally claimed him.

All his old Deep Feeling band mates – Luther Grosvenor, Dave Meredith, Poli Palmer and Gordon Jackson – were  there for the unveiling of his Blue Plaque on a sunny summer day, which very much summed up the life of Jim Capaldi.

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