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Portrait Bench at Reculver

In spring 2013, a Portrait Bench will be installed along the clifftop between Reculver and Bishopstone - and Canterbury City Council need your help to decide who it will feature!

A Portrait Bench is a collection of three distinctive, lifesize local figures cut from sheet steel and installed alongside a simple bench, inviting people to join the group and become part of the 'portrait'. Here's an example of one from elsewhere in the country:

The figures are inspired and chosen for their individual contribution to the life of the community and reflect the local heritage, culture and aspirations of the area. Their features are simplified but retain their essential characteristics.

Funding for the Portrait Bench is coming from the national sustainable charity Sustrans. The city council is organising the project locally and paying for it to be installed.

The Reculver Portrait Bench

The bench at Reculver is being provided as part of the Oyster Bay Trail cycle route. The section of the route between Reculver and Swalecliffe opened last year and the council is in the process of finalising plans to extend it between Swalecliffe and Whitstable.

So, which characters do you think best reflect the local area? A pilot perhaps? An oyster fisherman? Maybe a hockey player?

The city council has come up with a shortlist of seven figures who could take pride of place on the clifftop bench. Now it's down to local people to decide on their top three, and those with the most votes will be created.

The seven characters are:

  • A Dambuster pilot. The bouncing bomb was tested at Reculver and local pilot Bill Ottley flew one of the Lancaster Bombers and died on the Dambusters Raid.  
  • A fossil collector. Many important specimens have been collected from Bishopstone Glen.  
  • A Roman. A fort and settlement was built at Reculver around 43BC, probably to defend the Roman fleet anchored in the channel. It was rebuilt in the third century to protect the coast from Saxon longship raids.
  • A Saxon. In the fourth century, long after the fort was abandoned, King Egbert granted land to the priest Bassa to build Reculver church. Many Anglo-Saxon items have been found near the site.
  • A roller hockey player, representing the long tradition of roller hockey in Herne Bay. It began in 1901 and still has strong links in the town with the Bay Sports Arena being the proud home of roller hockey. 
  • An oyster fisherman. Oysters have been found in Whitstable for centuries, where fishermen would dredge the seabed to harvest the town’s famous, native oysters.
  • A diver. The Deane brothers of Whitstable invented and trialled the first underwater breathing apparatus (air-pumped diving helmet) in the town. Divers from the town salvaged sunken ships around the world, including Henry VIII's flagship, The Mary Rose.

Vote now!

Voting on which characters you would like to see make up Reculver's Portrait Bench is now open and runs until Wednesday 31 October.

Cast your vote now!

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Reader Comments (1)

If you have money to spare why not do something genuinely original instead of following Sustrans' formulaic lead? I imagine the whole country will soon be littered with these dreary things - and if it's not, I'll be glad to have been proved wrong!
Fri, October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlan

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