HERITAGE campaigners have continued their busy year of recognising their town’s unsung heroes by unveiling two more plaques in a week.
Mexborough Heritage Society’s latest idols are the fundraisers of 1942 who collected a staggering £63,000 to restore a damaged gunship and the miner’s son whose poetry made waves.
Poet Harold Massingham (below) was commemorated with a blue plaque outside the former grammar school he attended in the 1940s.
He died in 2011, aged 79, after becoming one of the most respected poets of his generation and enjoying a career garlanded with awards and
The plaque is a collaboration between Mexborough and District Heritage Society, Read to Write, and Pete Newman from the Mexborough Business Centre, which used to be the town’s grammar school.
Its unveiling came a week after the heritage society drew the curtain on the plaque marking Mexborough’s wartime adoption for HMS Tarantula, a Royal Naval gunship.
The shallow-draught boat was damaged during the First World War but its £70,000 repair was funded by the people of Mexborough during the Second World War.
“Lt-Cmdr Lincoln came to Mexborough to promote Warships Week and the raising of funds and it was decided by the people of Mexborough, that they would adopt HMS Tarantula,” said heritage society secretary Bill Lawrence.
“This was a vast undertaking for the town as the ship was so badly damaged that a new hull and refit was required.
“£70,000 was a colossal amount for that time and a daunting task for any town.”
Warships Week was opened in Mexborough in February 1942 by the famous radio comedian Stinker Murdoch.
Residents organised events and businesses made donations, bringing in a total of £63,000.
“This was a staggering amount considering that the average weekly wage was just £2,” said Bill.
The refitted HMS Tarantula became the flagship for the British Pacific Fleet and was used in the salvage of a floating dock in Sri Lanka — but was later used as target practice by the navy’s Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, finally sinking after being hit by depth charges.
The plaque was previously at Mexborough Resource Centre but has been moved to Mexborough Library and rededicated.