A dedicated couple that made an enormous contribution to the populace of Bermondsey………..
Dr. Alfred Salter (1873–1945), socialist and pacifist physician had been dedicated both professionally and politically to the working-class poor of Bermondsey. In 1898 Salter moved there into a settlement house founded by the Rev. John Scott Lidgett to minister to the health, social and educational needs of this chronically deprived borough in south-east London. In establishing a general practice in Bermondsey, Salter forsook the very real prospect of advancement in the medical sciences (at which he had excelled as a student at Guy’s).
Shortly after his marriage to fellow settlement house worker Ada Brown in 1900, the couple joined the Society of Friends and Salter became active in local politics as a Liberal councilor. In 1908 he became a founding member of the Independent Labour Party’s Bermondsey branch and twice ran for Parliament there under its banner before winning the seat for the ILP in 1922. Although he lost it the following year, he was again elected in October 1924 and represented the constituency for the last twenty years of his life, during which he remained a consistently strong pacifist voice inside the ILP.
Dr. Salter might have been prescient. In September 1927, he is said to have foretold the coming of another world war, where Southwark would become an area of “smashed buildings, wrecked factories, devastated houses, mangled corpses”. Those were early days for a WW2 prediction. Perhaps it was partially influenced by his Quaker background?
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 original statue by the sculptor Diane Gorvin, was installed in 1991. It showed a kindly Dr. Salter in his old age waving to his daughter, Joyce, leaning against the Thames wall with her cat nearby. Diane has called the ensemble of statues Dr. Salter’s Daydream: “It represents the daydream of an old man remembering happier times when his ‘sunshine’ was still alive.” The original statue of Alfred was stolen by metal-thieves in November 2011. The statues of Joyce and the cat were not stolen, and are still being kept in store by Southwark Council. A replacement statue was funded by a public campaign. Below is a pic of Alfred and Ada.
General Stuff about Bermondsey thats not listed
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