Plaque unveiled to mark birthplace of world-renowned designer

Tuesday 29 May 2018 Plaque unveiled to mark birthplace of world-renowned designer


Carl Toms OBE was one of the biggest names in theatre, opera, cinema and ballet of his generation and he was born right here in Ashfield.

Toms was one of the most sought-after and successful designers in the industry, working in Britain, Austria and the United States during a career spanning some 50 years. 

Toms was renowned as one of the best in his field and this was backed up by multiple awards; winning a Tony Award for Best Scenic Design, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design and a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Set Design.

His life started in humbler circumstances when he was born above a tailor shop on Kingsway, Kirkby in Ashfield before attending Diamond Avenue Boys School.

In 1965 in his home town of Kirkby, the final film to be shown at the Regent Cinema, now Wetherspoons, was ‘SHE’ which happened to be the very first that Toms worked on as costume designer for Ursula Andress.

Amongst many other achievements, Toms also decorated the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for the Royal Gala; designed a tankard for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana; and refurbished the Cambridge Theatre in London.

In recognition of his accomplishments, he received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1969 Honours. He died aged 72 at his home in Hertfordshire in 1999.

Ashfield District Council awarded £250 of funding to Kirkby Living Memory to help fund the research project in November 2017, as agreed by Kirkby Councillors.

Councillor Rachel Madden, who also contributed from her local members grant, said: “We are proud to have supported this event as it is important that we recognise and acknowledge our cultural history here in Ashfield. Our residents can be proud of people such as Carl Toms who have made such an impact in their field around the world”.

“It is fantastic that local historians such as Trevor and the Kirkby Living Memory Group can share stories such as this and reveal the fascinating past of our district.” 

To commemorate the life and works of this world-famous name, a plaque marking his birthplace above Taylors Corn Stores on Kingsway in Kirkby in Ashfield has been unveiled by local entertainer Steve Shappelle.

The research and organisation of the plaque installation has been carried out by Kirkby Living Memory Group member and local entertainer Trevor Lee. He said: “It is fantastic that we are able to celebrate the life and work of this local hero. His career spanned so many mediums across a number of countries around the world so to recognise his success in his hometown is a proud moment for Kirkby and his legacy.”

For full details of Carl Toms OBE, visit the history and heritage section of our website.