Admiral Phillip memorial site underway.

Work has started on preparing the site for a new sculpture which will commemorate the links between Bath and the British sailor who led the First Fleet to Australia.

Admiral Phillip
The newly installed foundations for the Admiral Phillip memorial.

The art work has been commissioned from the internationally famous sundial maker David Harber, who will be collaborating with Somerset based stone carver Nigel Fenwick. It will be positioned next to the Assembly Rooms and opposite Admiral Phillip’s house in nearby Bennett Street.

This year is the bicentenary of the death of Admiral Arthur Phillip. There is currently a portrait of him in the Victoria Art Gallery, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery.

The Britain-Australia Society are staging a number of events including the unveiling of the memorial in the garden at the north east corner of the Assembly Rooms on Saturday 12 July at 4.00pm.

It is hoped it will encourage residents, visitors and school children to learn more about the First Fleet’s voyage and Admiral Phillip’s life, through the facts engraved on the sculpture. It is also expected to encourage more Australian visitors to visit both Bath and Bathampton.

In June the Britain-Australia Society Education Trust launched an ambitious appeal to raise in excess of £200,000 to provide memorials in Westminster Abbey and in the grounds of the Assembly Rooms in Bath to recognise the achievements of Admiral Arthur Phillip RN, Commander of the First Fleet to Australia in 1787-8 and founder of the colony of New South Wales and of modern Australia. Arthur Phillip, although a national hero in Australia, is largely unknown in Britain.

An illustration of the proposed commemorative sculpture to Admiral Phillip.
An illustration of the proposed commemorative sculpture to Admiral Phillip.

To mark the 200th anniversary of his death in Bath in 1814, the Trust has the approval of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey to install a ledger stone in the nave near to the tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

In Bath, where Phillip lived from 1806 to 1814 at 19 Bennett Street, plans for a beautiful commemorative bronze armillary sphere mounted on a carved Bath Stone base were given planning permission by Bath and North East Somerset Council in April.

There are also plans to provide funds for St Nicholas’ Church, Bathampton, where the Admiral and his wife are buried and where there is already an informative display about the voyage of the First Fleet.

The Trust is planning to support the memorial proposals for the church if it is able to raise sufficient funds from donors for that purpose, and would hope to be able to provide up to £15,000.

An enduring bursary fund is to be established to make educational grants and to award scholarships in Phillip’s name to young Britons and Australians qualified and keen to deepen their knowledge of the other country.

Admiral Phillip
Admiral Phillip

Admiral Arthur Phillip (1738-1814) had retired from the Royal Navy to pursue a career as a country gentleman when he was called back into service and entrusted with the command of the “First Fleet’ which sailed in 1788 to begin the settlement of Australia as a penal colony.

It has to be said Admiral Phillip rose to the challenge and managed to hold the colony together through long months of near starvation.

He even established friendly relations with local aboriginal leaders – despite having been speared by one of them.

Finally he was allowed to retire and he took up residence at 19 Bennet Street where he was often seen being pushed around the Circus in his Bath chair.

His most enduring memorial is the city of Sydney which he founded and named after Viscount Sydney – the Home Secretary who had sent him on his way.

He is buried in Bathampton and an annual memorial service is held on his birthday – October 11th.

The Education Trust gratefully acknowledges the support of the National Trust, the Heritage Services Department of Bath and North East Somerset Council, Bath Tourism Plus, the City of Bath World Heritage Manager, the Bath Preservation Trust and all those who have donated to the Appeal.

If you would like to learn more about the project or donate, please visit http://www.britozwest.org.uk or phone Richard Pavitt 01935 824045.