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Opening of Phoenix Plaza and Fox Statue - Sept 2006

A large area of the town immediately north of the railway station known as The Chertsey Revitalisation Area was redeveloped during the 1990s to 2006. It included a £3 million investment in the road infrastructure including rebuilding of the road bridge across the railway which would allow the platforms to be lengthened to accommodate 8 carriage trains; sadly, this latter work has not yet been undertaken. Old buildings were demolished, including the old Chertsey council offices.
The Society objected to the demolition of the listed cottages next to Thompson’s blacksmiths in Guildford Street and they were subsequently retained and incorporated into the new development. A number of new office blocks were built together with housing units including some affordable housing and a number of retail units, the latter all now being restaurants and a sandwich bar.
At the suggestion of David Wheeler, the Society’s Vice Chairman, the Society proposed to RBC that a statue to commemorate the Rt Hon Charles James Fox should be provided in the square using section 106 money from the developers.
The statue was sculpted by the nationally recognised artist Ian Rank- Broadley who also designs coins for the Royal Mint. It was unveiled by Philip Hammond, MP, in September 2006.

 

 

 

 

   left: Fox by I Rank-Broadley

 

 

 

 

   Philip Hammond, MP & David
   Wheeler, September, 2006

 

The Rt Hon Charles James Fox was probably Chertsey’s most famous resident and was an outstanding parliamentary orator who spoke in support of William Wilberforce’s Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. To commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the Bill, the Society organised an event on Sunday 25th March 2007 attended by over 50 people which included dramatic readings narrated by Valerie Lane with Peter Anderson as Fox and James Hanley as Wilberforce (from Thorpe Players) using a script prepared by Malcolm Loveday (see Spring 2007 Newsletter).

 

 

 

 

 

   Valerie Lane, James Hanley & Peter Anderson,
   March 2007

 

 

The Mayor of Runnymede, Cllr Prof Morton Moore, laid a laurel garland on Fox’s statue and read a stirring address which acknowledged Fox’s contribution to British politics which included being Britain’s first Foreign Secretary (a post which he held three times). The Mayor referred to Fox’s passion for Human Rights, originally embodied in the Magna Carta and he quoted extracts from Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘The Reeds at Runnymede’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   The Mayor, Prof Morton More & his wife,
   Linda, with David Wheeler, March 2007