A MEMORIAL to the moment two future US presidents raised a toast to Worcester's pivotal role in the fight for liberty will soon be unveiled in the city.

The Mayor of Worcester, Cllr Roger Knight, had a first exclusive look at the "President's Plaque" in his parlour at the city's Guildhall today (Thursday) courtesy of the Worcester Civic Society.

The plaque will be unveiled, appropriately enough, at the Whitehouse Hotel in Foregate Street - as near as possible to the inn which played host to the great men.

The ceremony will take place on Thursday, February 18 at 11.30am with dignitaries including city MP Robin Walker arriving from 11am for tea and coffee.

The aluminium plaque has been sponsored by Barry and Hilary Hansell, another sponsor who did not wish to be named and the Battle of Worcester Society.

It features profile portraits in relief of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third presidents of the United States of America.

Before they became presidents the two men ate, drank and possibly stayed at the Hop Pole Inn in Worcester in April, 1786, enjoying cider and anchovies and immersing themselves in the city's rich and sometimes violent history.

The Worcester Civic Society, which arranged for the plaque to be produced, had wanted to place the plaque on the side of what had been the Hop Pole Inn, a building which still stands, but permission was refused so they have arranged to have it installed on the side of the hotel next door instead where the plan was greeted far more enthusiastically.

The plaque also features a colour representation of the US flag as it was at that time of the visit.

Thirteen stars are arranged in a circle on the flag rather than the 50 included on the modern flag, reflecting the fact that fewer states were then recognised as part of the United States.

Both men considered Worcester to have played an integral role in the struggle for liberty during the English Civil War, the last battle of which (the Battle of Worcester in 1651) led to the defeat of the Royalists by the Parliamentarian forces of Oliver Cromwell, bringing an end, albeit a temporary one, to the institution of monarchy.

The battle followed the execution of Charles I in 1649, a king who had insisted he ruled by "Divine Right" rather than with the consent of Parliament.

The king's son who was later restored to the throne as Charles II fled Worcester through St Martin's Gate after the Royalists were defeated at the Battle of Worcester.

The future presidents had been on an eight-day tour of English gardens and Civil War sites when they visited Worcester.

John Adams even made a famous speech on Fort Royal Hill in Worcester, chastising the people of the city and all England for not making more of the city's role in the fight for liberty.

In a quote upbraiding the English and recorded on the plaque itself he said: "Do Englishmen so soon forget the ground where liberty was fought for? All England should come in pilgrimage to this hill once a year."

David Saunders, vice-chairman of the civic society who is responsible for the project, said: "This is the only time the city has ever hosted two American presidents at the same time."

Mr Saunders said the Civic Society hoped to welcome a US representative at the unveiling ceremony although he thought it unlikely President Obama would be able to attend.

However, Cllr Knight said he had been involved in a positive exchange with the

cultural attaché at the US embassy and enquiries have also been made with the US consulate in Birmingham.

Leaders at Worcester's twin city of Worcester, Massachusetts, in the US have also been informed of the ceremony.

Cllr Knight said: "The plaque is excellent and it is one of a series that have gone up over the city. The plaques identify locations that might otherwise be forgotten.

"It is the sort of thing we should be doing as a city. We should be proud of our heritage."