The Unveiling of the Ayahs' Home Blue Plaque

Published on 29 July 2022

This year on Thursday 16th June, Shout Out Loud attended the unveiling of the Ayahs’ Home blue plaque at 26 King Edward Road, Hackney, East London. We’ve written about the ayahs previously and for South East Asian History Month, we wanted to shine a light back on the ayahs and their resilience, and provide a behind-the-scenes of the unveiling of a blue plaque.

The term ‘ayah’, is said to derive from the Hindi, Urdu and similar Portuguese word for nursemaid, and in this context is applied to women who served the British in India and other colonies as children’s nannies, nursemaids and ladies’ maids.

So, how does a blue plaque go from idea to an unveiling?

Once nominated, the plaque needs to be approved by the Blue Plaques Panel, who meet three times a year to discuss nominations and choose the recipients. It is a very selective and competitive process, owing to the popularity of the scheme, and only about one in five suggestions are taken forward.

Once confirmed, extensive research is undertaken by the blue plaques team on the individual or group to be commemorated and the surviving buildings associated with them, one of which is chosen to bear the plaque. Following further agreement by the Panel, and once the building owner has agreed to have the plaque, the team can set in motion the creation of the blue plaque and arrange for its installation.

The plaque itself is handmade by skilled craftspeople – Frank and Sue Ashworth and Ned Heywood – and you can learn more about that process here.

Ayahs’ Home plaque the day before the unveiling

English Heritage CEO Kate Mavor speaking at the unveiling

Journalist and presenter Anita Anand and actress and comedian Meera Syal opened the curtain and officially unveiled the plaque