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Walker, George Arthur (1861-1939) Sculptor and Illustrator

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There are four files in The National Archives, which give us some background information on the work of the sculptor Arthur George Walker.

File WORK 20/103 deals with the Florence Nightingale statue in Waterloo Place, London, which was the work of Walker.

The file covers the period 1913 to 1925 and gives us much information about the moving of the Guards Memorial (Crimean Memorial) from its existing position in order to accommodate the siting of the Nightingale statue and that of Sidney Herbert in front of it.

Correspondence involves the Florence Nightingale Memorial Fund Committee who were based at St.Thomas’s Hospital, H M. Office of Works, Treasury Chambers, the War Office, City of Westminster, The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, A.G.Walker ( from his studio- 5 Cedar Studios, Glebe Place, Chelsea), and the London County Council. The file also includes a hand-written letter from George Frampton, written from his 90 Carlton Hill, St.John’s Wood address. Frampton was asking the dimensions of the Nightingale statue to compare them with those of his statue of Nurse Edith Cavell

We learn amongst other things:-

1. That at one time the idea was considered of renaming Waterloo Place, "Crimea Place" and the street running down from Piccadilly Circus, "Crimea Street". This is mentioned in a letter from Office of Works to Westminster City Hall. Lord Knutsford of the Florence Nightingale Memorial Fund Committee had come up with the same idea and Office of Works wrote that as we were “fighting on the side of the Russians at the present moment” and this might “possibly wound their susceptibilities” the idea might be “better deferred until the War is over”. The matter was raised again in 1919 but not it seems proceeded with.

2. That a suggestion was made by a T W MacAlpine of Finchley to have a light placed in the lamp carried by Florence Nightingale but this was declined.

Some photographs of the Florence Nightingale Statue, taken in June 2007, are shown below. This statue, that of Sidney Herbert, which was the work of John Henry Foley, and the Guards Memorial, the work of the sculptor John Bell are surely one of London’s finest sculptural groupings.

There are bronze panels beneath the statue, one shows Nightingale at the hospital door as wounded soldiers arrive, the second shows Nightingale meeting with senior officers, the third shows Nightingale in old age surrounded by her nurses, and in another she is seen advising an officer standing before a row of cots occupied by wounded soldiers,

Files WORK 20/188 and WORK 20/306 give us some background information on the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst which was also the work of Walker and stands in Victoria Tower Gardens. This statue was unveiled by Stanley Baldwin on 6th March 1930.

George Walker trained as both painter and sculptor and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy from 1884 to 1937. Apart from his many sculptures he illustrated children’s books.

Other Work By A.G.Walker

1. Memorial to Lord Hambleden in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. A bust on a pedestal designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. There is National Archive File concerning this memorial WORK 20/190.

2. Bronze statue of John Wesley at Wesley Chapel in Bristol.

3. A Virgin and Child both in Wells and Llandaff Cathedral.

4. The Mosaic Dome of the Greek Church in Bayswater.

5. Memorial statue of Orlando Gibbons in Westminster Abbey.

6. Decoration in Lady Chapel at Brentwood.

7. “Christ at the Whipping Post” in the Tate Gallery.

8. Bust of Dame Louisa Aldrich-Blake in Tavistock Square.Dame Louisa Brandreth Aldrich-Blake (1865-1925) was one of the first British women to enter the world of medicine. Having graduated from the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine for Women in 1893,she went on to take the University of London’s higher degrees in Medicine and Surgery, becoming the first British woman to obtain the degree of Master of Surgery. Throughout her career, Dr. Aldrich-Blake was associated with the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, becoming the senior surgeon there in 1910.In 1924 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and she died the following year.A recently taken photograph of this work is shown below.

Dame Louisa Aldrich-Blake

9. A bronze figure of Christ on a War Memorial in a Limehouse churchyard. The Limehouse War Memorial was unveiled on the 28th May 1921 by General The Lord Byng of Vimy. The inscription reads: "TO THE GLORY OF/GOD/AND IN GRATEFUL MEMORY OF THE MEN OF LIMEHOUSE WHO FELL IN/THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918/GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS/OF ANY NAMES NOT ENGRAVED IN PERISHABLE STONE/GOD HOLDS ETERNAL RECORD IN HIS HEART ALONE". It stands in the grounds of St Anne in the East Church on Commercial Road.

10. Winged bulls and lions being exterior sculpture on the Church of the Agapemone on Stamford Hill.

11. War Memorial in Heath Town Park, Wolverhampton. Bronze figure of soldier on granite base. Panels underneath soldier depict naval and RAF scenes. Work completed in 1920.

12. 1914-1918 War Memorial at the Guildhall, Derby. Completed in 1924. This features a bronze figure of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus in her arms. The inscription reads "THE GREAT WAR/1914-1918/FOR FAITH/AND HOME/AND RIGHTEOUSNESS/WORLD WAR 1939-1945". The Derby War Memorial was unveiled on the 11th November 1924.

A photograph of this memorial, taken in August 2008, is shown below.

The Derby War Memorial

Some further studies of this magnificent work are shown in the gallery below.

Walker also completed a bronze figure of Christ as a 1914-1918 war memorial for St.Werburghs Church on Friargate in Derby

13. 1914-1918 War Memorial at Sevenoaks in Kent.

14. The bronze statue and plaques on the Dartford War Memorial in Market Street, Dartford, Kent. Unveiled 7th May 1922.

15. The bronze statue and plaques on The War Memorial at Ironbridge in Shropshire. Unveiled 8th March 1924.

16. The bronze statue and relief panels on the Heston War Memorial on the Heston Road, Heston, London.

Here are some recent photographs of the Nightingale Memorial. Firstly the memorial as a whole, then a close-up of Florence Nightingale, then the front showing the inscription, then one of the bronze bas-relief panels, then the guardsmen of the Crimean Memorial seemingly standing guard over Florence Nightingale, and lastly Mrs. Pankhurst.

In St Thomas’s Hospital is another Florence Nightingale statue this by Frederick Mancini, completed in 1975 and described as being “after A.G.Walker”.

Walker was also responsible for the statues of Roger Payne, the bookbinder and William Morris in the niches on the Exhibition Road side of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Another war memorial where Walker carried out the sculptural work is the memorial to the 6th Battalion Gordon Highlanders which is to be found in the Memorial Garden, Main Road, Keith in Scotland. This features a figure of a Gordon Highlander in kilt and bonnet, with rifle raised at the ready. Walker was also the sculptor of the war memorial in Cornhill, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk which remembers the men who lost their lives in the Boer War.

Walker was also the sculptor of the Old Salopians War Memorial in Shrewsbury School, Shropshire. There is a bronze statue of Sir Philip Sydney who died at the Battle of Zutphen and two relief panels. The first is a duplicate of the panel on the Limehouse War Memorial,this showing a scene in the trenches in the 1914-1918 war and the second depicts Sir Philip Sydney's death at Zutphen.