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Blue plaque erected in Leigh honour of Goodbye Mr Chips author James Hilton
3:53pm Friday 1st March 2013 in News
AUTHOR and Oscar-winning scriptwriter James Hilton’s Leigh town centre birthplace has been officially recognised 60 years after his death.
A blue plaque has been fastened to the wall of 26 Wilkinson Street where James Hilton was born on September 9, 1900.
As she unveiled the plaque Leigh councillor and Mayor of Wigan Clr Myra Whiteside said she was privileged ‘as a Leyther born and bred’ to perform the ceremony.
She said: “James rose from obscurity to become the best-selling author of Lost Horizon, Goodbye Mr Chips and Random Harvest.
“At the height of his fame he topped the best seller lists on both sides of the Atlantic where he helped to write the scripts for classic Hollywood films – including Mrs Miniver, which starred the famous actress Greer Garson.
“Today has been made possible with the help of funding from the three ward councillors Lord Peter Smith, Clr Sue Greensmith and myself and the co-operation of Mr Hart.
“I would also like to thank the members of the James Hilton Appreciation Society and particularly Leigh resident Eileen Brunt who has been campaigning for such a recognition in honour of one of Leigh’s famous sons.”
Richard Hughes, chairman of the James Hilton Society which was founded in 2000 to mark the centenary of Hilton’s birth, arrived from Surrey for the ceremony along with Trevor Pound, the society treasurer who is a descendant of the author.
Mr Hughes said: “I’m pleased his birthplace has been recognised. James Hilton’s most famous work is Goodbye Mr Chips, a story about a much-loved schoolteacher who stayed the course for many years. Former Turner Brothers employee Alfred Hart now lives in the house that was Hilton’s birthplace.
The 83-year-old said: “I’m pleased that the house has been officially recognised.
“I have lived here for 53 years but it was only when somebody called round about 10 years ago that I learned of the connection.”
The James Hilton Society will be returning to Leigh in May.