Nelson cricket idol gets second blue plaque

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Learie in action in his pomp Learie in action in his pomp

A CRICKETING legend and black rights campaigner who made Nelson his home has been awarded a second ‘blue plaque’ in recognition of his sporting and political prowess.

Two years ago council bosses in Pendle supported a memorial outside the terrace house in Meredith Street, where Sir Learie Constantine lived for 19 years.

And now his second British home, at 101 Lexham Gardens in London’s Earls Court, is also the bearer of a similar plaque.

Sir Learie lived at the address from 1949 to 1954 and would pen what is regarded as his most powerful written work, Colour Bar, there.

The West Indies Test star was later called to the bar and returned to his native Trinidad, where he became chairman of the People’s Movement Party, and later Transport and Works Minister.

He stayed as pro with Nelson from 1929 and 1937 and made a deep impression on the town.

His debut versus Accrington was watched by 5,000 people and he would go on to help his side secure eight Lancashire League titles.

Sir Learie, who continued to turn out for the West Indies during his East Lancashire stint, was made a freeman of Nelson in 1963.

Howard Spencer, English Heritage’s blue plaques historian said: “As a cricketer Constantine was celebrated for his adventurous approach to the game which he played, according to Michael Parkinson, 'like a man walking a tightrope without a safety net'.

“As a politician, Constantine is remembered in Trinidad and Tobago for his significant role in securing its independence, and in Britain as a leading advocate for the interests of all black people; he was always ready to take a stand when it mattered.”

“The first person of African descent to sit in the House of Lords, Constantine died a respected and well-loved figure in both Great Britain and the West Indies; in the words of a eulogy, he had 'walked with kings without ever losing the common touch.”

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