This is a set of originally three, now four sculptures that were unveiled in 1991 to commemorate the work of the medical doctor, campaigner and Labour politician, Alfred Salter.

Unfortunately, although unveiled in 1991, one of the four is no longer the original, which went missing in 2011, presumed stolen and melted down for its bronze.

Dr Salter (1873-1945) started his medical practice in Bermondsey, having already started to get involved in workers rights and poverty reduction. He moved into politics in 1903 and was elected MP, after several failed attempts, in 1922, and although he lost the seat in a general election the following year, he regained it in another election in 1924, and held the seat until he retired in 1945 due to ill health.

As part of the wider docklands redevelopments, the LDDC commissioned the artist, Diane Gorvin to create a work to remember the good doctor. It shows him relaxing on a stone bench while watching his wife, his daughter, and the family cat.

The idea being that it showed him remembering happier times when his ‘sunshine’ was still alive. The poignancy of that is in that his daughter died of scarlet fever aged eight in June 1910.

The dream was shattered in 2011 though, when the statue of Dr Salter himself, which had been relaxing on a park bench vanished. The council took the remaining three characters into safe storage fearing more metal thefts.

The local community raised £60,000 for a replacement Dr, and this time, included his wife, who had not been in the original trio. The replacement and new addition were unveiled in 2014.

The area also gained a security camera to keep an eye on the four.

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3 comments on “London Public Art: Dr Salter’s Daydream, SE16
  1. Rotherhithe What's on Group says:

    Thank you for this interesting article.Perhaps you could have said a little more about Ada herself She was one of the first women councillors in London, the first woman mayor in London and the first Labour woman mayor in the British Isles This statue of her by Diane Gorvin was only the 15th public statue to a woman in London

    Taylor, Graham: Ada Salter: Pioneer of Ethical Socialism (2016), Lawrence & Wishart is a readable biography

    Kind Regards & thanks again for the article

  2. mauricereed says:

    Very interesting. My mother’s family came from Bermondsey and their name was Salter too. Makes me wonder if he wasn’t a distant relation.

  3. Sean O'Brien says:

    I’ve been past this a few times and reading the panel I was almost in tears. Very tragic tale of a couple who only wanted to do good for the local people.

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