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Great London Sculptures: Dr Salter’s Daydream in Bermondsey

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Walking along the Thames walk in Bermondsey near the Angel pub, you come across in a family group of sculptures. The scene is entitled Dr. Salter’s Daydream and tells the story of Dr Alfred Salter, his wife Ada Brown and their daughter Joyce with the family cat perched on the wall.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Alfred Salter was born in nearby Greenwich in 1873 and went on to study medicine at Guy’s Hospital, London. He qualified in 1896 and it looked like he would have a successful career ahead of him in medicine. However, in 1898, Dr Salter became a resident at the Methodist Settlement in Bermondsey and began to work amongst the people who lived in poverty in the area. Many of the population of the area worked in the docks but due to the causal nature of the work it was difficult to have any kind of financial security.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Whilst at the Settlement, Salter set up health insurance schemes and adult education classes and met Ada Brown who shared many of the doctor’s political and social concern views. The Doctor and Ada married in 1900 and in the same year established a medical practice in Bermondsey. The work of the couple led to a the establishment of a pioneering comprehensive health service in the area. To bring more widespread change to the area, Dr Salter and Ada decided to enter the political arena. Salter was elected to Bermondsey Borough Council in 1903, to the London County Council and eventually became a Member of Parliament for the area from 1922 up to the Second World War.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Ada was elected to Bermondsey Borough Council in 1922, and in the same year was elected as the first female mayor of the borough. Ada became an early pioneer of urban gardening, and organised campaigned against air pollution in London. By the 1930s she had planted thousands of trees, decorated many buildings with window-boxes, and filled disused open spaces with plants and flowers.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Amid the couple’s social and political work, they had to endure a personal tragedy in 1910, when their eight years old daughter Joyce, died of scarlet fever. The couple carried on their work till the 1940s when first Ada then Dr Salter died.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

To remember and celebrate the lives of the Salter family, a series of sculptures were commissioned and in 1991, sculptor Diane Gorvin unveiled her artwork. Originally Dr. Salter was seated on a bench in old age looking and remembering his young daughter when she was still alive with the cat on the wall. The well-loved sculpture of the Doctor was stolen in 2011 and a new model was made and a sculpture of Ada added which pays tribute to her tree and planting schemes for Bermondsey.


© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Since 2014, the family group has graced this lovely spot over looking the Thames and reminds people about some of the area’s history and characters before large-scale redevelopment took place.

The Secrets of the South Bank Lion

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The striking large white lion statue at the south end of Westminster Bridge has watched over the Thames on the South Bank for nearly two hundred years but its original position was rather higher up, on the top of the Lion Brewery in Lambeth.

James Goding had the Lion Brewery built in 1836–7, the main building facing the river was five storeys high topped off with a large white lion made of Coade stone. The Lion did not have travel far because the Coade’s Stone Works were located nearby, the works opened in 1769 and was run for the first 25 years by the remarkable Mrs. Eleanor Coade. The factory flourished for over 70 years, most due to the fact that the ‘recipe’ for Coade Stone was a closely guarded secret.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Coade stone was not really stone at all but was rather ceramic stoneware that was considered a ‘wonder’ material in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Cheap to produce, It was mostly used for moulding neoclassical statues, architectural decorations and garden ornaments of the highest quality and remained resistant to the vagaries of the weather. It was popular with the Royal Family and was used on St George’s Chapel, Windsor; The Royal Pavilion, Brighton; Carlton House, London; the Royal Naval College, Greenwich; and Buckingham Palace. However the glory days of Coade Stone were over when large lion for the Lion Brewery was produced in 1837, in the same year, the artificial stone factory was closed down.

The Lion Brewery continued to operate until 1924 when it was bought out by Hoare and Co. brewers, of Wapping. The main building was seriously damaged by fire in 1931 and eventually the whole complex was demolished in 1949 to make way for the Royal Festival Hall.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Lion was saved from the building and was reused as part of the Festival of Britain. For some reason, the lion was painted red and mounted on a plinth near the entrance to Waterloo station. In 1966, during the redevelopment of Waterloo station, the statue was cleaned and red paint removed to bring it back to original colour and moved to its current location on a large granite plinth next to Westminster Bridge. The plinth bears the inscription “The South Bank Lion”. and the plaque gives further information about the Lion surviving the bombing in the Second World War and how he was preserved in the accordance with the wishes of His Majesty King George VI. The statue was given a Grade II* listing by English Heritage in 1981.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The statue which is about 13 feet (4.0 m) long and 12 feet (3.7 m) high, and weighs about 13 tonnes (14 tons) is a reminder of long gone Lambeth industries and has been a reassuring landmark for generations of Londoners.

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Great London Sculptures: The Traffic Light Tree by Pierre Vivant

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

One of the most unusual sculptures in London is located on a traffic roundabout near Billingsgate Market, close to the Canary Wharf Financial District.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The public sculpture entitled Traffic Light Tree was created by the French sculptor Pierre Vivant following a competition run by the Public Art Commissions Agency.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The sculpture is eight metres tall and contains 75 sets of lights, each controlled by computer.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Vivant was inspired to create the sculpture by London Plane Trees and the changing pattern of the lights reflects the never-ending rhythm of the surrounding domestic, financial and commercial activities.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The sculpture was originally located on a roundabout in Millwall, at the junction of Heron Quay, Marsh Wall and Westferry Road. It was installed in 1998 and soon became a favourite with tourists and locals, however due to redevelopment in 2011 the sculpture was moved to a new location opposite Billingsgate Market where it had an official lighting-up ceremony in 2014.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

It is still known to confuse motorists but that is all part of the fun about having a Traffic Light Tree. The sculpture was the reason the roundabout it stood on was voted the best UK roundabout in 2005.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
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Great London Sculptures: Memorial to Sir Arthur Sullivan by Sir William Goscombe John in Victoria Embankment Gardens

Visitors to London will often come across many sculptures which often give a fascinating insight into some of London’s characters.

A walk along Victoria Embankment Gardens brings you to sculptor Sir William Goscombe John’s memorial to Sir Arthur Sullivan. The striking memorial features a bronze bust of Sullivan on a high granite pedestal against which a bronze female figure which is draped around the stone.

The grieving ‘Muse’ has often been called the ‘sexiest statue in London’ and leans against the pedestal which has a inscription from The Yeoman Of The Guard. The inscription reads “Is life a boon? If so, it must befall that Death, whene’er he call, must call too soon”. W. S. Gilbert. At the bottom of the pedestal is a mask, sheet music from The Yeoman Of The Guard and a mandolin.

To fully understand the symbols and the importance of the location of the memorial, it is important to know a little more about Sir Arthur Sullivan.

Sir Arthur Sullivan was born in 1842 and was a composer who is best known for his comic opera collaborations with W. S. Gilbert which include H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado. These operas were incredibly successful and Gilbert, Sullivan and impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte made a fortune from the collaborations. Carte used his profits from the partnership to build the Savoy Hotel which is directly opposite the memorial.

Although Sullivan wrote more serious pieces, his work with Gilbert is considered the forerunner of the type of musical theatre that would dominate the West End for the next hundred years. Sullivan’s  death at the age of 58 in 1900 was widely mourned and in 1903 this statue was erected to his memory.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
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London Sculptures : A Conversation with Oscar Wilde by Maggi Hambling in Central London

Visitors to London will often come across many sculptures in the streets which give a fascinating insight into some of London’s characters. One of the larger than life characters of the late 19th century was Oscar Wilde who was an Irish poet and playwright. He became known as a ‘wit’ and became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s and also wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray, a successful novel in the period.

However, despite his success, his involvement in a libel case led to his arrest and conviction. He spent two years in prison, after his release, he left for France and died in Paris at the age of 46. After his death, Wilde’s plays have been performed regularly in London and his life continues to fascinate the latter generations.

During the 1980s and 1990s, fans of Wilde’s work suggested their should be a permanent tribute to him in London and a committee which included Jeremy Isaacs, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen and Seamus Heaney decided on a fitting tribute to the playwright.

In the end, a work by artist Maggi Hambling was chosen for the memorial. The work is inscribed with a quotation from Wilde’s play Lady Windermere’s Fan: “We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars”. The sculpture is bench-like green granite sarcophagus, with a bust of Wilde emerging from the upper end, with a hand holding a cigarette.

The sculpture was unveiled in 1998, the location is Adelaide Street which between Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross Station, behind St Martin’s in the Fields church. The reaction to the sculpture was mixed with some who thought it was witty and amusing whilst others thought it was like a Madame Tussauds waxwork.

Due to its location, it is often missed by many visitors but is considered one of the more interesting sculptures in central London.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here