National Recording Project

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Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Monument to Captain Matthew Webb (1848-1883)

Summary

Type Medallion , Fountain

     The drinking fountain is a simple square three stage monument surmounted by a modern light fitting. It has three drinking fountain basins with lions head spouts. On one side of the second stage is a portrait roundel depicting Captain Webb in profile.
     The lion heads on the side were made by William Icke, a brass moulder from Dawley who worked at Coalbrookedale. The monument was unveiled by Thomas Webb, Captain Webb's older brother in 1909 before 1000 people. It originally stood at the top of the High Street, but in 1958 was moved to a site at Paddock Mount a short distance away to allow for road improvements at the High Street-King Street junction. It returned very close to its original site in 1979 as part of the Dawley pedestrianisation scheme. At some stage in its history the memorial lost its original three lanterns, which were replaced by a single lantern.
     Captain Matthew Webb (1848-1883), born in Dawley, was a pioneering marathon swimmer. In 1875 he became the first man to swim the Channel from Dover to Calais. He died attempting to swim across the base of the Niagara Falls.

Inscriptions

On roundel: CAPTAIN MATTHEW WEBB/ SWAM FROM DOVER TO/ CALAIS AUGUST 24TH 1875 On the second stage of the memorial, below the roundel, inscribed: NOTHING GREAT/ IS EASY On first stage, inscribed: THIS MEMORIAL WAS UNVEILED/ ON 23RD OCTOBER 1909 On second stage, inscribed: CAPTAIN WEBB/ WAS BORN IN A HOUSE/ WHICH FORMERLY OCCUPIED/ A SITE TEN YARDS/ FROM THIS MEMORIAL// ERECTED BU PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION/ TO THE MEMORY OF/ CAPTAIN MATTHEW WEBB/ WHO IN ADDITION TO/ FEATS OF LIFE-SAVING,/ SWAM THE ENGLISH CHANNEL// CAPTAIN WEBB WAS BORN IN DAWLEY/ JANUARY 19TH 1848/ AND LOST HIS LIFE/ IN AN ATTEMPT TO SWIM/ NIAGARA RAPIDS/ ON JULY 24TH 1883

Related works : A national memorial to Captain Webb is sited at Clarence Lawn, Dover (1910)

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Icke, William Metal worker

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Monument Stone 400cm high approx x 103cm wide x 103cm deep
Lion heads Cast iron 25cm high x 15cm wide x 15cm deep
Roundel Bronze 36cm diameter
Lamp Glass and wrought iron, painted black None

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
SAtwDAxx001 BM
General condition Fair
Surface condition
  • Metallic staining
  • Corrosion, Deterioration
  • Surface spalling, crumbling
  • Biological growth
Structural condition
  • Water collection
  • Broken, missing parts
  • Loose elements
Vandalism
  • Graffiti
Road High Street
Precise location None
A-Z ref None
OS ref SJ685075
Date of design None
Year of unveiling 1909
Unveiling details Unveiled on 23 October 1909
Commissioned by Erected by public subscription
Duty of care Great Dawley Parish Council
Listing status Not listed
At risk? Not at risk

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