There’s a wonderful quirky walk along the Thames from Rotherhithe to Bermondsey, It’ll take you past the Brunel tunnel and museum, the site of the Mayflower start point for voyage to America, all sorts of plaques and memorials.Across the river is the Captain Kidd and the Town of Ramsgate and the Wapping Stairs….in the fog last Sunday you could feel Magwitch mudlarking on the beech below. Then there’s my favourite pub in London – The ANGEL – where you can sit out on a balcony above the  the thames slapping  the stairs like warm beer in the belly. More surprises – the remains of a medieaval manor house amidst the council flats. There’s a raised area by the river on which sits a statue of DR. ALFRED SALTER looking towards another statue of his daughter and her cat.

You can check out Alfred Salter on wikipedia – suffice to say he was a great man who worked tirelessly for the health of the working class in Bermondsey for long years and was firstly in the ILP then labour MP for the area. There were great outbreaks of childhood contagious diseases in the area – diptheria, whooping cough, polio. Salter had the means to send his own daughter to a school in a safer area but chose not to and tragically his daughter died in a diptheria outbreal age 11. The  statue shows Salter in retirement looking with a desperate yearning towards his daughter. You’ have to have a very hard heart not to be moved. On friday someone stole the bronze  statue – no doubt now melted down for scrap, I was in the Angel Sunday but did not notice it had gone. Hearing of it yesterday I told Jane on her arrival home. We cursed the thieves like Daily Mail readers – or the oldies we are. But it wasn’t anger at all that predominated but loss. Jane went upstairs. Separately we were picturing the scene in our minds…..and the same thought came to us….what about the daughter now bereft of her father……….what an awful forlorn sight that would be. The tears welled up.

Yes  know it’s only a fucking statue.  ‘Worse things happen at sea’ as my old granny used to say….save your tears for real people. Mawkish sentimentality maybe. Today I heard that Southwark council have taken the statues of daughter and cat into council care to prevent them being nicked. Good – I don’t think I would like to see her on her own. ‘Evey time I  passed that statue  I thought of the good he did’  said the council leader. Right. Mourning for an age of good honest municipal socialists from  Gerorge Lansbury onwards who strove both practically and politically to improve the quality of life for working class people….I see Salter in that great tradition of Jimmy Maxton and the ILP. Maybe some people will rally around the statue theft. Hope so -I’d like to be part of it. The walk ain’t going to be the same now. Captain Kidd’s for romanticism but basically a selfish bastard. It was probably him wot done it. Salter was from a different tradition altogether. I’ll raise a glass to that one next time I’m in the Angel.


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  1. rogerglewis

    Ian what a wonderful piece of commentary. if a picture paints a thousand words what of a couple of hundred words about a Statue.
    I think this sums up the current plight of the people in Britain.
    Thanks I found this incredibly moving and it fires my heart for change.

  2. Guy

    That’s a real shame.
    I remember having a pint outside the Angel earlier this year when a local history group turned up at the statue as part of a history walk. Having no knowledge of the area I found the story fascinating and very sad. Not many people would put their own family’s health at risk to help others.

    I sincerely hope the local council can replace it.

  3. mcauter

    guy was a legend, makes simon hughes MP look a fucking embaressment (yet hes still one of the ‘best’..’least bad?’ mps out there).

    im sure some paint and stencily nearby could create a new homage for him. shouldnt let the guy be forgotten

  4. Unfortunately there is a school of thought that has declared history as dead, and of no importance in modern society.


    The same thing has been happening with the bronze plaques on first world war memorials, and whatever you think of them, it’s worth remembering that, by and large, they were paid for by public subscription, and local authorities were quite often forced by popular pressure to erect them…It’s a shitty thing to do.

    Theres quite a good article about it here- ‘ It was a war fought, not by what Wellington and his generals considered to be “scum”, but by volunteer armies – clerks and steel workers, miners and shopkeepers. These were men who would be remembered.’

    @mccaulter- Simon Hughes MP is a cunt of the highest order, and I don’t see how you could possibly think otherwise!?

    • mcauter

      Hes my local MP, i know hes a cunt but all things are relative and within the measurements of cuntery in the houses of parlaiment hes at the lower end of the scale.

      Ive met him, ive talked to him, he sent me a letter after a family member contacted him about a beating i recieved from the cops and wrote to the cops about it, as pointless as it was it was a gesture. Also when i confronted him about his treatment of Peter Tatchell he replied with i think the only real out and out admission of cuntness by a politician. He does care, and in his local constituencey he does much more to help the working class than most – also ive seen no evidence of him pandering tot he gentrification of the area or forwarding it. dont know what goes on behind closed doors.

      im not saying hes a brilliant fellow, ive uttered the statement simon hughes is a cunt enough times and its a line in a track ive done.
      but lets be real, he could be fuckloads worse

      • INCUBUS

        …Like taking donations from ‘Ministry of Sound’ by way of thanks for his ‘support’ and backing the Tories cutting of EMA as ‘Advocate for Access to Education’ (wherein he recommended that 10 and 11 year olds should start considering their preferred career choice of wage-slavery)? Saying he ain’t Cameron doesn’t cut it with me, in fact I prefer a Tory Bastard cos at least you know what you’re getting… I’m sure Hughes is very charming and compassionate as cunts go…I waited five hours to see Jeremy Corbyn once, and he positively dripped with sympathy for the five minutes I got with him (I think he had urgent business with the Tamil Tigers to attend to…)- and then he did fuck-all to really help. Another cunt.

      • mcauter

        Uhuh, hes a cunt.

        ‘ Saying he ain’t Cameron doesn’t cut it with me,’
        but hes not, it doesnt matter whether it cuts with you or not, i agree its slightly masochisticly better to have to tories in cause its more obvious your being fucked over but.. hes not cameron. these are facts, im not trying to big up the guy but you cant say all MPs are as bad as eachother in anything more than a polemic way, REALITY is some are worse.

        besides, better the devil you know. i rather have simon living down the road, comfortably hating him than having a labour idiot or tory (haha as if it could happen) i dont know here.

        dont mean to get defensive here but its my area and im willing to bet it would be in a worse state with a labour or tory MP, it doesnt need to be any worse and we dont need a tory MP to know the system is a fuck and MPs are fucks. hardly anyone votes besides.

    • Anonymous

      I was once told that when Islington raised money for a memorial after the first world war instead of a monument they built a hospital. Good move there. I’ve seen WW1 memorials carrying what Wilfred Owen, who died in that war, called “the old lie” – “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”. It’s the only Latin I know – it translates as “”It is fitting and sweet to die for one’s country” Fuck that

  6. Dora Kaplan

    Let’s hope he was melted down into something useful, though it’s doubtful. Modern ‘bronze’ is really just a copper alloy, with a small admixture of zinc, nickel or tin, and copper prices are through the roof. I blame Goldman Sachs, who have been manipulating commodity prices for as long as anyone can remember, but there’s also massive imports to Asia, pushing global demand to nearly 16 million tons per year, along with impending ‘peak copper.’
    With global demand peaking and ‘clean’ copper currently selling at well over £3,000 per ton it’s not surprising that the good doctor has found himself once more a victim of the cold logic of ruthless market forces.

  7. 27past1984

    all the home delivery vans at the sainsburys in enfield plus my mate’s yan in freezywater had their catalytic converters ripped off last week.

    there’s platinum in some of them there cats me hearties.

    the good doctors story is more confirmation ,i think, that ultimately it’s what’s in your heart not what class you’re in that counts.

  8. Peter Good

    Alarmed by the plight of pensioners having to wait at a bus-stop exposed to all weathers I once screwed an old metal garden seat to the bus-stop wall. It was ripped-off within 24 hours. Some months later I tried the same thing again, this time with stronger screws. The chair lasted maybe 36 hours.

    Whatever utopian dreams I may have the fact remains that an Anarchist life is one long struggle between the forces of freedom and the forces of servitude. Never join the ranks of the give-ups.

  9. alan on tyneside

    Immediately after the Meadow Well riot in 1991, a letter appeared in the local press saying that stealing expensive cars was Dale & Colin’s JOB; this caused an apoplectic cacophony of middle-class outrage, but it reflected a very sophisticted class-based analysis of what was and was not acceptable ‘criminal’ activity. Top of the list would be corporate targets and the rich – the other end of the scale was very much in agreement with the old Class War sticker:

    “NO Muggers Burglars! This is a working class area. Don’t rip off your own.”

    Wherever you think that the theft of this statue falls on this scale, (& I’m sorry that it’s gone), the fact remains that the economic screws have been tightened much harder in the past twenty years, and you get very good prices for metal at the moment if you can dodge the plain-clothes bizzies in the scrap-yards.

    Most people nick stuff for economic survival and most people wish that they didn’t have to do it. Some people get caught and get banged up; they are political prisoners of a vicious economic system that fucks them over in a deliberate & systematic way on a daily basis.

    In the by-election thread, footnote hooligan suggested some action around Feltham YOI. A really good idea, which would be even better if it was an organised campaign across the country in the new year; noise demos & co-ordination of prisoner support, but organised & consistent rather than a one-off stunt. Here’s a recent example from New Orleans comrades:


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