Captain Webb is synonymous with Dover for most swimmers. (Though I’ve never been able to figure out why his Dover memorial is situated so badly in front of a block of flats instead of in front of the sea). But his birthplace was Dawley, in Shropshire.
I’ve read a few times, by people who haven’t seen it, that the Dover memorial has on it the famous phrase attributed to Webb and embraced as the motto of Channel swimmers, Nothing Great is Easy, which is not in fact true. The possibly apocryphal (but unimportant if so) motto is on the Dawley Memorial which was erected 26 years after his death, in 1909.
There are a few sources of very interesting photographs from his time, various stories, and in particular of the Captain Webb Dawley Memorial. Site navigation isn’t the greatest. Go here for older images of the memorial before restoration and re-situation.
You can buy a print of a contemporary newspaper illustration of his death. Of the less well-know aspects of Webb’s life were a 60 hour continuous swim in Westminster Aquarium, illustrated in 1880 and 128 hours floating in a tank in Boston, for which he won £1000. The newspapers caricature of him shows him as hypertrophically barrel-chested and he was celebrated by John Betjeman, the Poet Laureate.
Memorial Images source. This post is to save CS&PF President Nick Adams a trip.
- No one swims to France by accident – Channel Season & Channel Fever (loneswimmer.com)