New link with Australia unveiled in Bath

(from left) Lord Lieutenant of Somerset Lady Elizabeth Gass; Governor of New South Wales Dame Marie Bashir, and Chairman of the Britain-Australia Society Education Trust Sir Christopher Benson.
(From left) Lord Lieutenant of Somerset Lady Elizabeth Gass; Governor of New South Wales Dame Marie Bashir, and Chairman of the Britain-Australia Society Education Trust Sir Christopher Benson.

A new sculpture commemorating the links between Bath and the British sailor who led the First Fleet of European colonists  to Australia has been installed near his final home in the city.

The new memorial next to the Assembly Rooms
The new memorial next to the Assembly Rooms

The memorial honours Admiral Arthur Phillip (1738-1814) and was commissioned from the internationally famous sundial maker David Harber – in collaboration with Somerset-based stone carver Nigel Fenwick. 

A closer view of the sphere.
A closer view of the sphere.

This took place in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, Lady Elizabeth Gass DCVO, and the Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO.

The memorial is almost opposite Phillip’s house at 19 Bennett Street, in the grounds of the Assembly Rooms which he would have known well.

The unveiling marks the bicentenary of the death of Admiral Phillip who retired to Bennett Street in 1793 and died there in 1814. He is buried at St. Nicholas Church, Bathampton. The unveiling is part of a week of events, which started on Monday July 7, with the unveiling of a plaque to Admiral Phillip in Westminster Abbey in London. The bronze bands of the installation are engraved with details of Phillip’s life and work.

Admiral Arthur Phillip
Admiral Arthur Phillip

Phillip was appointed first Governor of New South Wales in 1787, when he sailed with the ‘First fleet’ of convicts. He reached Botany Bay the following year and explored further, eventually choosing the site of Sydney for the new settlement. Today Phillip is known down under as the ‘Father of Australia’ but until now has been little known in the UK.

Cllr Ben Stevens, (LibDem, Widcombe) Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “We are delighted that Bath and North East Somerset Council has worked so well with the Britain-Australia Society to give this important but little-known Bath resident the recognition he merited. We are honoured that the present the Governor of New South Wales has come to pay tribute to her earliest predecessor.”

Sir Christopher Benson DL, Chairman of the Britain-Australia Society Education Trust, said: “The Society has lobbied long and hard to have memorials in the UK to recognize the achievements of Admiral Arthur Phillip and the memorial in Bath is in such a suitable location, opposite the house in which he spent his retirement. The armillary sphere, with the narrative cast into it, will undoubtedly raise public understanding and appreciation of this remarkable man.

“In addition, behind these celebrations the Britain- Australia Society Education Trust, a charity of which I am chairman, will be using the bicentennial celebrations as an opportunity to raise awareness of its Admiral Arthur Phillip RN Scholarships and Grants, a post graduate scheme between British and Australian universities. The scholarships have been established to celebrate the values and disciplines of the rule of law, humanity, scientific enquiry, maritime studies, languages and foreign relations, which were defining characteristics of Admiral Arthur Phillip RN.”

The Assembly Rooms belong to The National Trust and are occupied and managed by Bath and North East Somerset Council.