Plaque is tribute to Cathedral bell maker
A Long-running saga over a footpath was finally settled with the unveiling of a new plaque marking the life of one of Peterborough’s great engineers.
Historian Michael Lee and Peterborough Civic Society were behind the installation of the plaque at Henry Penn Walk which gives details of the life of the 18th century bellfounder.
Peterborough City Council first named the riverside footpath in 1984, when the Rivergate Centre opened, but then wanted to rename it after famous Peterborough strongman and daredevil Walter Cornelius.
The decision in 2009 was not a popular one with some historians and Mr Lee of Fotheringhay Church Bellringers, eventually took the authority to court to get the decision overturned.
The original name was eventually retained following discussions brokered with the help of then-mayor Pat Nash,
The path itself remained closed off to pedestrians and cyclists for another two years because of a planning dispute concerning nearby flats.
The new plaque in tribute to Mr Penn – whose work can still be heard from the Peterborough Cathedral belltower every day – was finally unveiled yesterday.
Castor Handbell ringers performed pieces as the plaque was unveiled - via the use of bellropes - by Fotheringhay Church Bellringers tower captain Jane Saunders.
Mr Lee had also prepared 40 books for those attending, on the achievements of Mr Penn.
Mr Lee said that Mr Penn’s work in Peterborough, then in Northamptonshire, should be recognised.
He said: “I’m very happy that it’s all been resolved.
“It’s been going on for three years and there was never really any need for it.
“We paid for the plaque, but Peterborough Civic Society was the official body behind it.
“As well as Jane and myself there were four other ringers from Fotheringhay present at the opening. It’s most important to the history of Peterborough that the achievements of this man are recognised. He was the greatest bellfounder in Northamptonshire at the time.”
The plaque was sponsored by Fotheringhay Bellringers because it is believed that Penn cast one of five bells in the village, which later became missing.
Mr Penn was also an apprentice to the uncle of one of the relatives of the Vicar of Fotheringhay.
MARKING HISTORY: About 40 people gathered for the opening of the plaque at Henry Penn Walk.
RINGING THE CHANGES: Jane Saunders pulls the bellrope to open the new plaque at Henry Penn Walk.