Postman’s Park, King Edward Street, London EC1

“Postman’s Park is a public garden in central London, a short distance north of St Paul’s Cathedral. Bordered by Little Britain, Aldersgate Street, St. Martin’s Le Grand, King Edward Street, and the site of the former headquarters of the General Post Office (GPO), it is one of the largest open spaces in the City of London.

Postman’s Park opened in 1880 on the site of the former churchyard and burial ground of St Botolph’s Aldersgate church and expanded over the next 20 years to incorporate the adjacent burial grounds of Christ Church Greyfriars and St Leonard, Foster Lane…

In 1900, the park became the location for George Frederic Watts’s Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, a memorial to ordinary people who died while saving the lives of others and who might otherwise be forgotten, in the form of a loggia and long wall housing ceramic memorial tablets…

Watts was an acquaintance of William De Morgan, at that time one of the world’s leading tile designers, and consequently found them easier and cheaper to obtain than engraved stone…

On 1 July 1904 George Frederic Watts died at New Little Holland House, aged 87…

William De Morgan was unwilling to compromise on quality or embrace the trend towards mass production, and by this time his work was significantly more expensive than similar works by other designers. Consequently, his ceramics business was becoming increasingly unviable financially. In 1906 his first novel, Joseph Vance, was published and became a great success, prompting De Morgan to close the ceramics business in 1907 to concentrate on writing. Mary Watts attempted to replicate De Morgan’s tile designs at Watts’s pottery in Compton but was unable to do so, and investigated other tile manufacturers.

It transpired that the only manufacturer able to supply suitable tiles was Royal Doulton, although they were unable or unwilling to replicate De Morgan’s designs, and they were duly commissioned to manufacture the 24 tiles, delivered in May 1908. Mary Watts was unhappy with the design of the tiles, which were significantly different in colour and appearance from De Morgan’s original tiles, and they were installed without ceremony on 21 August 1908, immediately below De Morgan’s original row of tiles…Work to fill the three empty rows of the memorial was abandoned.

On 13 June 1917, P.C. Alfred Smith, an officer of the Metropolitan Police, was patrolling Central Street in Finsbury, approximately 900 yards (820 m) directly north of Postman’s Park. At about noon, fifteen German aircraft began a bombing raid, devastating the area. Around 150 women and girls working in the nearby Debenhams factory panicked in the explosions, and ran out into the street while the air raid was still in progress. PC Smith and the manager of the factory shepherded them back to safety in the building, but Smith was caught by the blast of one of the bombs and died.

Following Smith’s death J. Allen Baker, Member of Parliament for Finsbury East, launched a public fund to support Smith’s widow and young son and to provide a suitable memorial to him…On 13 June 1919, two years to the day after Smith’s death, a memorial tablet to Smith made by Royal Doulton was unveiled at the start of the empty row directly above De Morgan’s original tiles.”

See image above (unveiled Aug 21, 1908, designer Royal Doulton):

From the website of London Walking Tours:

“Although his memorial plaque remembers him as “Edmund Emery”, the brave young man who leapt into the Thames to rescue a child on the 31st of July 1874 was, in fact, Charles Edward Emery (1850 – 1874).

Reynold’s Weekly Newspaper of the 9th of August 1874:

“Mr. Bedford held an inquest at the board room, Mount Street, Grosvenor Square, on the body of Mr. Edward Emery, aged twenty one, of 272, King’s Road, Chelsea, who lost his life in attempting to save that of a child.

The evidence showed that the child was fishing or playing on the Embankment near Millbank, when he lost his balance and fell into the water.

The deceased, who was on a steamer passing at the time, instantly jumped into the water to rescue him, but was carried away by the tide and drowned.

A police constable saw the occurrence, but he neglected to report it to his superiors at the station.

Mr Levett, of 2, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, happened to be on the Embankment, and, holding on by the iron railings, rescued the child.

The body of the deceased was recovered about eight the same evening.

The jury returned a verdict, “That the deceased was accidentally drowned while attempting to save the life of a fellow creature.”

They also expressed an opinion that the police on duty ought to have communicated with the station inspector.”

Emery had worked as an artist for The Illustrated London News, where it was reported on 15th of August 1874:

“The lamented death of Mr. Charles Emery, a young artist much esteemed by his acquaintances, was mentioned last week.

He threw himself into the Thames, from a steam-boat near the Pimlico pier, to save the life of a child that was drowning.

Mr. Emery was a good swimmer, and would probably have done with safety what he so nobly sought to do. But it is believed that he struck his head against something in the water, and so lost power to contend with the tide, then running very high. He was seen to emerge and make two or three uncertain strokes, after which he sank; but the child was saved, being taken up by a boat.

Mr. Emery was scarcely twenty-three years of age.

He was unmarried, but supported an invalid father, and gave some aid to others of his family, by his earnings as an artist.

It is proposed by several friends to raise a subscription for the benefit of those whom this good son so dutifully cared for…”

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