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Steel figures immortalise Weymouth heroes
A CELEBRATION of Weymouth’s heritage was unveiled at the entrance to the Rodwell Trail.
The portrait bench, sited just off Abbotsbury Road, features three figures in steel who immortalise the town’s heroes as voted for by the public – the coastguards, lifeboat crews and fishermen.
The art project was a joint operation between the county council and transport charity Sustrans.
The life-sized steel figures are based on real people and highlight three common features of Weymouth life.
The figures were inspired by photographs, collected during research, of coastguard hero Robert Treadwell, former Weymouth RNLI coxswain Vic Pitman and fisherman Kelvin Moore.
Kevin Humphreys, from Sustrans, said he was pleased to see a lot of local support for the project.
He added: “We know that people are more likely to walk or cycle for their everyday journeys when they find the environment around them attractive and interesting. I’m delighted the community has adopted it as part of their community garden initiative.”
Dorset County Council Cabinet member for highways and transportation Peter Finney, who cut the ribbon to unveil the portrait bench, said: “The bench will provide another focal point along this popular route, and will encourage people to stop and reflect on Weymouth and Portland’s maritime past, present and future.”
The short ceremony was attended by representatives of the RNLI and coastguards, as well as members of the public.
Portland Coastguard watch assistant Phillip Chappell said: “I was really pleased to hear that the coastguards had been chosen to be a part of this, and I’m very happy that so many people have turned out to see the bench unveiled.”
Mr Chappell researched the history of Robert Treadwell and the story of the landing craft which ran aground at Chesil during the Second World War, sparking a rescue mission in which Mr Treadwell and others lost their lives.
The bench is part of a scheme to develop a new walking and cycling network in Weymouth, which included a bridge over Newstead Road and a safer crossing at Ferrybridge.
The national project, run by Sustrans, which aims to improve walking and cycling routes in communities across the country, received £50million lottery funding.
Local funding was also used for the Weymouth project.
‘Exemplary member of an exemplary service’ ROBERT Treadwell, left, died on October 13, 1944, one of two coastguards and nine Royal Navy officers to lose their lives when the LCT(A) 2454 landing craft ran aground on Chesil Beach.
Mr Treadwell, who was on shore helping with the rescue effort, was washed into the sea and drowned.
He was posthumously decorated with the Sea Gallantry Medal and is buried at the Verne Naval Cemetery on Portland. His step-son Raymond Morris travelled from Plymouth to see the bench unveiled.
He said: “Robert Henry Treadwell was a fine man and an excellent step-father. During the five years prior to his death he displayed total devotion to duty as a Coastguards-man and notable personal bravery. It is fitting therefore to remember him as an exemplary member of an exemplary service.”