In November 2011, a bronze statue of Alfred Salter was stolen from its comfortable seat looking out over the Thames in Bermondsey. The community was angry and frustrated that the thieves had stolen such an iconic creation merely for the value of the melted metal. A group of residents came together to take on the metal thieves and their website now says
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.
The Salter Statues Campaign was born! The Campaign began raising funds to replace the statue with a fresh memorial to both Ada and Alfred Salter. Early on the London Borough of Southwark came in behind the Campaign and offered to match every pound raised up to £50,000. Fund-raising went far afield gaining support from descendants of the Salter family, from local trusts and from several Quaker Meeting Houses who recognised models of Christian charity in Ada and Alfred Salter. Diane Gorvin was invited to design the new figures as she had designed the first ones in 1991. The design was finalised and much thought (and cost) has gone into the security measures to ensure that the thieves do not get away with the new memorial.
The good news is that the full £100,000 target has been reached. The fund-raising continues as the costs of security, interpretation and so forth are significant. The Campaign are now finalising their plans for the unveiling later in the year or early next. They hope soon to announce the details of the event commemorating this couple’s great achievements for the people of SE16.
Get along to the AGM on Sunday 6 July at 13:00 at St Peter’s Church (basement room) and give them your support!