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Samuel Plimsoll

Happy Plimsoll Day today (10th February).

What an amazing day of commemoration of Samuel Plimsoll was had in Folkestone yesterday.

How the people of Folkestone, and further afield, pulled together to show their enthusiasm for their local hero, and their recognition of his part in their local heritage, in the history of social reform, and in our maritime culture, and his importance as an ongoing example of how an individual can change the world for the better.

You can read and see the clipper ship named by and in honour of Samuel Plimsoll on this web site, for your convinience  links appear at the end of this text.

The attendance at the Memorial Service at St Martin’s Church, Cheriton, was variously reported to the organiser as 120 and 180 people; the attendance at the Music Hall Evening in Folkestone United Reformed Church estimated at 140.

Funds raised for the RNLI and the Kent Merchant Navy Association at the service were £359.85. The collection at the music hall evening is still being counted. Samuel Plimsoll, who had a lifeboat named after him, and always re-channelled money that was raised in tribute to him to lifeboats and sailors’ causes, would have approved.

This is to say thank you to all who made a contribution to the extraordinary day.

Thanks to those who publicised events by word of mouth, by designing, funding, printing and distributing posters, emailing their networks, and contacting or contributing to press, radio, and websites – including the professional journalists and broadcasters who took an interest; to those who made two beautiful venues available, brought splendid standards, wore medals, badges or chains of office, surplices, uniforms, and costumes, rang bells, researched and mounted the Plimsoll exhibition (which you can still see in the Baptistry of St Martin’s for some weeks to come), who researched the music, spoke, rehearsed, played, sang, read, performed, planted and decorated Plimsoll’s grave, organised wreaths, printed and gave out programmes, kept track of acceptances, brought, took round or donated to collection buckets and counted money; who baked, bought, set up, served and cleared refreshments, brought technological expertise and equipment, drove, attended, joined in, applauded, took photographs, helped with all the organisation, found and copied historical documents, and offered knowledge, contacts, commitment and ideas for the ongoing commemoration of Samuel Plimsoll.

Special thanks to the Revd David de Verny of St Martin’s, who understood the spirit of Samuel Plimsoll and mirrored it so perfectly in his welcome, his readings and his prayers; to Councillor Rodica Wheeler, Folkestone Town Mayor, and her Consort Mr Matthew Lawson and Councillor Jenny Hollingsbee, Chairman of Shepway District Council, and to Deputy Mayor of Folkestone Roger West and his escort Councillor Pat West who lent the dignity of their office to both occasions, as well as their invaluable willingness to help memorialise Samuel Plimsoll in Folkestone, to Michael Foad who took it upon himself to organise a music hall evening at Folkestone United Reformed Church and to his MC and exceptionally talented musicians who delighted us all. There were so many wonderful contributions from so many people. Representatives of so many important organisations were present, among them: the Kent Merchant Navy Association; the London Merchant Navy Association; the RNLI; the Prince of Wales Sea Training School Veterans Society; the ‘Independent Vindicatrix of East Kent’ Association; Ramsgate RNA (with Standard for HMS Phoebe); National Coastwatch Folkestone; the Royal Naval Reserves; Folkestone Town Council; Hythe Town Council; Shepway District Council; Folkestone West County Council; Kent County Council; Sandgate Parish Council; Folkestone Liaison Committee; Folkestone URC Church; St Peter’s Church, Folkestone (‘the Mariners’ Church’); Folkestone Rotary Club; Channel Rotary Club; Folkestone Lions; Go Folkestone Action Group; Folkestone Creative, and Step Short Folkestone Ltd.

Together we did Folkestone’s hero, and Folkestone, and our sailors, proud.

If any of you are on Linked In, or know someone who might be, all are welcome to join the Folkestone Plimsoll Memorial Campaign on the site.  If you took any good photographs, I would be glad to add them to our photographic record of the day.

Ideas being taken forward include: naming a Quay after Samuel Plimsoll, a plaque on the Bandstand, a statue of him (or an interpretation of his contribution) in Folkestone, an exhibition in the Town Hall Museum, a celebration as part of the Folkestone Triennial, and of course a regular Plimsoll Day.

Our organiser hopes to see you all again next year, if not before.


The clipper ship named by and in honour of Samuel Plimsoll together with some of her history (I have much more to write up but not had the time so it’s coming…) appears as a major feature on the page Emigration, Plymouth Cattewater.

The picture is available as a signed numbered heritage quality print from this web site Print Gallery.