Friday, 18 April 2008

The Three Statues by Dover Harbour

I quite often visit the harbour at Dover to check the gulls and look for any other birds blown in to shelter from the wind. Along the front there are three statues.

In 1873 Webb was serving as captain of the steamship Emerald when he read an account of the failed attempt by J. B. Johnson to swim the English Channel. He became inspired to try himself, and left his job to begin training, first at Lambeth Baths, then in the cold waters of the Thames and the English Channel.

On 12 August 1875 he made his first cross-Channel swimming attempt, but strong winds and poor sea conditions forced him to abandon the swim.

On 24 August 1875 he began a second swim by diving in from the Admiralty Pier at Dover. Backed by three chase boats and smeared in porpoise oil, he set off into the ebb tide at a steady breaststroke. Despite stings from jellyfish and strong currents off Cap Gris Nez which prevented him reaching the shore for five hours, finally, after 21 hours and 45 minutes, he landed near Calais – the first successful cross-channel swim. His zig-zag course across the Channel was over 39 miles (64 km) long.

The Honourable Charles Stewart Rolls (August 27, 1877 - July 12, 1910) was, together with Frederick Henry Royce, a co-founder of the Rolls-Royce car manufacturing firm. Rolls was also a pioneer aviator and initially, balloonist, making over 170 balloon ascents. He was a founding member of the Royal Aero Club in 1903 and was the second person in Britain to be licensed to fly by it. In 1903 he also won the Gordon Bennett Gold Medal for the longest single flight time.

On June 2, 1910, he became the first man to make a non-stop double crossing of the English Channel by plane, taking 95 minutes – faster than Blériot.
In the same year, he was killed in an air crash at Bournemouth when the tail of his Wright Flyer broke off, making him the first Briton to be killed in an aeronautical accident, and the eleventh internationally.

Just across the road from the seafront is a statue entitled "The waiting Miner", . This statue sculpted by H Phillips was commissioned by the C.E.G.B. and sited at Richborough Power Station in 1966. It was relocated to the Marine Parade, Dover following the closure of Richborough Power Station in September 1997.

I know that there has been discussion on Dover Council about re-siting this statue in one of the mining villages, but I don't know if there are any plans for this to happen in the near future.

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