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Confusion and disappointment at the removal of Muriel Sibley's Blue Plaque in Formby


The Formby community was recently taken aback by the removal of the blue heritage plaque dedicated to Muriel Sibley, a beloved local artist and historian. The plaque, which was prominently displayed on the house where Sibley lived on Brows Lane, honored her significant contributions to preserving Formby's rich history.


Muriel Sibley (1912-1993) lived in Formby for 44 years, during which she meticulously documented the architectural and cultural heritage of the area through her drawings and paintings. She was a regular contributor to the Formby Times, where her weekly illustrated articles provided fascinating insights into local history. Additionally, she presented engaging slideshow programs about the community for many years. Sibley was a founding member of the Formby Society in 1953, working with a mischievous sense of humor. Her works often included hidden personal touches such as cats, dogs, birds, or bicycles, which added a whimsical element to her precise and detailed depictions.


The blue plaque was installed at Brows Lane to honor Sibley's extensive contributions. However, it was unexpectedly removed by the current homeowner, who did so without prior notice or explanation. He was previously a committee member of 'Imagine Formby,' had initially agreed to the plaque's installation. However, he resigned from the committee following disagreements over the direction of the group's development. Subsequently, he decided to remove the plaque, citing dissatisfaction with the Formby Parish Council's handling of his proposals and requests.

Cllr Dave Irving with the Muriel Sibley Blue Plaque


Cllr. Dave Irving from the Formby Parish Council expressed his confusion and disappointment over the removal. "We are very bewildered why he took the blue plaque down. The Parish Council funded this plaque at the request of the Formby Civic Society, in recognition of Muriel Sibley's devoted work capturing the life and times of Formby for over 40 years. Her dynamic attitude and dedication were invaluable to our community. Muriel painted over 800 pictures, often seen cycling around Formby with her paintbrushes and canvas."


The removal incident came to light when a concerned community member visited the home to inquire about the plaque’s whereabouts. The homeowner revealed that he had taken it down and handed it over to Formby Heritage Centre which is above Woodwards Wine Bar on Chapel Lane.


Currently, the blue plaque is stored at the Heritage Centre, where it will remain until a decision is made about its future reinstallation. The Formby Civic Society continues to honor Sibley's legacy, maintaining a collection of over 600 images of her sketches and watercolors, which are available for public viewing online. Additionally, Sibley donated over 700 photographs of Formby from the 1970s to the Society, further enriching the community's historical archive.


Muriel Sibley's legacy in Formby is marked by her dedication to local history and her artistic talent, which preserved the essence of the community for future generations. Born Muriel Edith LeFevre in West Ham, she brought a unique European influence to her work. Her parents, Edith and William LeFevre, provided a rich cultural background that influenced her artistic journey. Despite personal hardships, including the early loss of her father, Sibley’s commitment to her adopted community never wavered.


The Formby community remains deeply grateful for Sibley's contributions and looks forward to the day when her commemorative plaque can be restored to its rightful place, continuing to inspire appreciation for local heritage and the arts. The Formby Civic Society invites everyone to explore Sibley's work and celebrate her lasting impact on the community through their online collections.


Members of the Civic Society and the Parish Council as they ‘opened’ the site of the Plaque at 18 Brows Lane in Formby


Cross Green Blundell Arms Hotel 1879c


Grange Lane No 02 1973c Tower Grange

Muriel Sibley


Muriel Sibley


 

The Formby Civic Society

The Formby Civic Society have a collection of over 600 images of Muriel Sibley sketches and watercolours as well as a video of an interview with her in 1991 at https://www.flickr.com/photos/formbycivicsociety/albums/72157624253191683


Muriel also donated over 700 of her photos of Formby in the 1970's to the Society and these can be identified by the ref. STxxxx and viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/formbycivicsociety/albums





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