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Fishpool has joined the growing number of streets with blue plaques commemorating famous residents who made outstanding contributions during their lifetimes.


The latest plaque has been fixed to the front of No 7 Fishpool Street in memory of map maker Thomas Kitchin, Britain’s foremost engraver of his time, who moved here from London with his second wife in 1768.

Today No 7 is the home of the headmaster of St Albans School, Jonathan Gillespie, and his wife Caroline.


The event was marked by a small gathering of invited guests at the school on April 30, attended by the mayor, Councillor Anthony Rowlands, as well as Tim Boatswain, chair of Blue Plaques St Albans, Anthony Oliver, president of Fishpool Street Residents’ Association, and Laurence Worms, a leading expert and writer on Kitchin, who kindly funded the plaque.


Tim Boatswain explained to guests: “Normally, when we put up a blue plaque, we invite the general public to come to the installation. But if you understand Fishpool Street and the narrow pavements and the fall, you realise it’s not something we could do this time.”


Tim was joined by Robert Pankhurst, Blue Plaque’s deputy chair, who spoke of Kitchin’s many works, including production of John Elphinstone’s map of Scotland (1746) and The Small English Atlas (1749).


The Large English Atlas (1749-60) was a serious attempt to cover England at large scale, and in 1755 he engraved the Mitchell Map of North America – the first of its kind. He produced 170 maps for London Magazine from 1747–83, and also became head hydrographer for the King of England.


In 1783, he wrote The Traveller’s Guide Through England and Wales, which listed most towns and cities with mileages back to London.


Kitchin died aged 66 in 1784 and was buried in St Albans Cathedral, where he is remembered today alongside his wife Sarah on barely legible ledger stones in the south aisle.


Blue Plaques St Albans is a voluntary organisation that relies on sponsorship and donations. Thomas Kitchin’s is the 12th plaque to date. A forthcoming project aims to create a “Blue Plaque Trail” for visitors and others to follow around the city.

Photo: Tim Boatswain, Anthony Oliver and Robert Pankhurst under the blue plaque


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