This photograph is out-of-date. It shows, just east of Tower Bridge in London, the bronze statue of Dr Alfred Salter. But in November, 2011, it was stolen by metal-thieves, and presumably melted down.
Not only Alfred but his wife, 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.
Should the metal-thieves be allowed to win and despoil the memory of this altruistic couple? The Salter Statues Campaign thought not. That is why we appealed for funds. The sum was large because of the extra security needed to stop any theft in the future.
* We aimed to include a statue of Ada this time, so that some good came out of the metal-thieves’ action. Her statue will be one of only 15 public statues of women in London (and three of those are Queens), the only public statue of a female politician (Margaret Thatcher being inside the Guildhall), the only public statue of a woman trade unionist, the only public statue of a woman environmentalist and the only public statue of a Quaker woman.
* Ada sacrificed a comfortable life in Northamptonshire to help the poor of London, and Alfred sacrificed a brilliant medical career, only for their daughter, Joyce, to die of scarlet fever in the slums. That is the tragic story told by the ensemble of statues, created by the artist, Diane Gorvin. The four statues are a true work of art, a truly human story.
* Our original target was £50,000, with Southwark Council providing match-funding for an estimated cost of £100,000. So at the beginning of December, just in time for the next bank holiday at Christmas and New Year when the area gets a lot of visitors, the new statues were unveiled. This included replacing Alfred’s stolen statue, adding the first-ever statue of Ada, re-installing the statue of their daughter, Joyce, with cat, and installing extensive security (the biggest single cost, thanks to the metal-thieves) so the statues were never stolen again.
* This year we were told that the cost of sophisticated CCTV had increased and that £60,000 would be needed. To our delight, this was no problem. Donations continued to arrive at an amazingly generous rate as the Campaign became more widely-known. So:
We are delighted to announce that we have now raised the full total required.
THANK YOU SO MUCH to our kind supporters!!