Last Saturday’s post described my run eastwards along the Thames, it was a really enjoyable, great to be alive, run. Well it was, apart from one point on Bermondsey Wall where a much loved friend was missing.
A statue of Alfred Salter used to be seated on a metal bench, waving at a statue of his daughter and gazing upstream towards Tower Bridge. It was my favourite piece of sculpture along the Thames, as much for what it represented as for its considerable artistic merit.
As I approached, I knew it had gone, I knew it had been stolen a couple of winters ago – presumably for its limited scrap value, but it still didn’t prepare me for the sadness I felt on seeing a small, slightly rusty, mark on the bench where the statue of the great man should have been sitting. I took a photo of what remains but can’t bring myself to post it, I’d rather remember how it used to be …
(From the Salter Statues Campaign Website)
Alfred Salter and his wife Ada were two of the heroes of early municipal socialism, the Salter Statues Campaign website sums up their legacy
“Alfred (and) Ada were legendary figures even in their own life-times, and their work for the community was internationally acclaimed. The doctor brought free, state-of-the-art medical facilities into the slums of Bermondsey. He created an ‘NHS before the NHS’. Ada helped thousands with her social clubs, especially for young working women, and later through her ‘Beautification Committee’ she covered the slums with gardens, trees, flowers, children’s playgrounds and open spaces for music and sports. Together they cleared away hovels and built model housing in accordance with garden-city ideals.”
There is a fundraising effort to replace the statue, which is still around £13K short of the £50K target, Southwark Council will match fund the money raised.
This will pay for the replacement of the statue of Alfred along with CCTV to protect it; but one good thing will come out of the theft – there will also be a statue of Ada. It will add to the tiny number of statues of women in London – there are just 14 in public open spaces
There is an on line fundraising page if you want to donate.