Sunday, 21 February 2016

Bermondsey gem

There are only fifteen statues of women in London. Three of them are queens. One of them is Bermondsey heroine, Ada Salter (left).

Local man, Graham Taylor's, biography of  Ada Salter, has hit the book shops. You can order it here

It is Graham Taylor's contention that the contribution of Ada has been rather overshadowed by that of her husband, and indeed that some of the achievements traditionally attributed to Alfred were actually Ada's.

In many instances, he was the supporter; she was the initiator.

She was the first woman councillor  and the first Labour councillor in Bermondsey. She was the first female Labour councillor in the whole of London. In time she became the Mayor of Bermondsey and a member of the LCC (London County Council).

Famously she set up the Bermondsey Beautification Committee which oversaw the planting of over 6,000 trees in the streets and saw the borough blossom, as flowers were planted in every park, churchyard or piece of scrap land.

A specially hardy variety of Dahlia was created to cope with the particular horticultural challenge of the local area. It was called the 'Bermondsey Gem.'

But, it was just about flowers and trees, her deep Christian faith and passionate commitment to bringing in a better world, led her to work for improved housing for the poor, new public baths (said to be the finest in England), a ground breaking maternity service and radical health reforms, all part of what became known as the 'Bermondsey Revolution.'

When she died in 1942 her memorial service was held at St James's Church, where the vicar was one of the Salter's closest friends and supporters.

Later the Old English Garden in Southwark Park, which she had helped to create, was renamed, in her honour, the Ada Salter Memorial Garden, and much later, Ada's statue joined that of her husband, Alfred, and daughter, Joyce, on the banks of the Thames, a fitting tribute to Bermondsey's gem.

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