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Page last updated at 15:09 GMT, Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Blue plaque for Lancashire home of Learie Constantine

Sir Learie Constantine
Constantine played 18 Test matches for the West Indies

A blue plaque commemorating the great West Indian cricketer and statesman Sir Learie Constantine is to be placed on his former Lancashire home.

The all-rounder, who died in 1971, lived at 3 Meredith Street in Pendle between 1930 and 1949 while playing for Nelson as their overseas professional.

The Mayor of Pendle, Councillor Tony Beckett, told BBC Radio Lancashire: "Sir Learie deserves to be remembered.

"People ought to know what a great man he was and what he did for the world."

The man who was to become the Right Honourable The Lord Constantine was born in Trinidad in 1901 but settled in Nelson with his wife Norma after making his West Indies debut while touring England in 1928.

This is the place it should be, where he spent a good deal of his time

Councillor Tony Beckett

Constantine, who later became an MP in Trinidad and served as his country's High Commissioner in London, was made an MBE in 1947, knighted in 1962 and became the first man of African descent to be made a life peer in 1969 for his work in politics and racial equality.

Back in 1928, people in Nelson were not used to seeing black people and his arrival in the cotton town caused a stir.

"School children came out in their droves to see him because the only black face they'd seen before was a coal miner," Beckett explained.

"But he endeared himself to them and would come out and play cricket with the kids in the street."

Constantine helped Nelson retain their Lancashire League title in his first season, finishing with 820 runs and 88 wickets while also catching the eye as an athletic fielder.

Blue plaque

"On the day he first came it was the usual weather, dark, raining and dismal, and he probably wondered what he was letting himself in for," said Beckett.

Pendle Council has permission from the owner of the property to erect the plaque although it is not known when this will go ahead.

A similar plaque is already in place on the house in London to which Constantine moved in 1949.

"That's English Heritage, but this is the place it should be, where he spent a good deal of his time," added Beckett.

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