Dockers Statue by Les Johnson, Victoria Dock
The long awaited Dockers statue has finally been sited in the Royal Victoria Dock outside the ExCel exhibition centre, it depicts Dockers at work and it is dedicated to all the Dock Workers from the 1800s that had such a hard life.
The three figures depicted in the statue are: John Ringwood, an ex Seaman who later worker in the Docks, came originally from Custom House and now lives in Hornchurch; Patrick Holland from Custom House, who worked as a Stevedore in the Docks for 20 years, he is the one with the hat on who is portraying a Tally Clerk; Mark Tibbs, who comes from a Boxing family in Canning Town.
Their names can be seen on the sides of the packing cases as well as Wally Taylor who did the Marquette for the statue. Wally was from Custom House but now lives in Gosport, Hants.
Mr John Ringwood and Mrs Patricia Holland campaigned for a memorial to Newham's Dockers and over a period of time they raised the money to pay for the project and persuaded The Royal Docks Trust and Newham Council to commission the statue.
Mrs Holland from Custom House, whose father and husband were stevedores, said "This is our history and we should be proud of it. Stevedore is a Portuguese name, this was a skilled job, and these men were in the hold of the ship all day unloading or loading. Dockworkers were on the quay unloading or loading. You had the Blue Union for the Stevedores and the White Union for the Dock workers."
This is one of the largest figurative sculptures in London; the bronze figures are 9 feet in height. The sculptor, Les Johnson, has remarkable talent and is acclaimed as one of the finest figurative sculptors of his generation. He is a Fellow of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. Johnson was born in Australia and studied fine art in Sydney and Melbourne before coming to Britain. Here he specialized in sculpture under Michael Marriott FRBS at the Sir John Cass School of Art, London. He perfected his knowledge of the human form by studying anatomy under Professor John Pegington at the Department of Anatomy, University College London.
The statue was cast at the Bronze Age Sculpture Casting Foundry, one of London's largest bronze foundries, which is located by the Limehouse Basin, a few steps away from the Thames. It is a highly specialised foundry using the lost wax method to cast works in bronze and other non-ferrous metals.
The restored warehouse in the background is Warehouse W c.1860-60 and behind it and to the right is Warehouse K c.1850-55, which was for bonded tobacco. These two buildings were Grade II Listed in 1998.