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New Book is a Tribute to Jack Phillips, a Hero of the Titanic

Published on: 25 Apr, 2012
Updated on: 25 Apr, 2012

The town of Godalming responded quickly to the news of the sinking of the Titanic and the story of the bravery of the ship’s chief wireless officer, Jack Phillips.

The shock of the disaster in April 1912 and the death of this local young man saw Godalming soon make plans for a permanent memorial.

The book, Phillips Memorial Park, has just been published.

A new book, Phillips Memorial Park, an Arts and Crafts Movement Tribute to a Hero of the Titanic has just been published as a memorial for the centenary of the sinking of ship.

The book’s focus is the story of how the young Marconi-trained telegraph operator Jack Phillips continued to transmit wireless messages until three minutes before the ship went down. He was lost at sea and became lauded for his devotion to duty. The Carpathia, which responded to his messages, picked up 705 survivors.

There is an account of Jack’s background and training with a description of his actions in the radio operator’s “shack” – his strength of character shines through.

There follows the story of the efforts by the people of Godalming to commission a memorial to his heroism and of the involvement of five purposeful women to ensure that memorial materialised in the form of the Phillips Memorial Cloister.

Gertrude Jekyll the artist, gardener and craftswoman played a major role in the initial concept of the cloister and its subsequent planting and the Arts and Crafts architect Hugh Thackeray Tuner designed the building in the local vernacular tradition; their backgrounds and the influences they brought to the project are fully explored within the text.

The creation of the Phillips Memorial Cloister is set within a wider consideration of the architectural design of the times and ethos of the Arts and Crafts period.

The cloister, Grade II listed, is set in the extensive riverside landscape, now known as the Phillips Memorial Park, was always intended to be a “useful” memorial. Its history is followed, through “ups” and “downs”, over the years and is brought up to date with a description of the newly completed restoration by Waverley Borough Council funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The book is published by The Arts and Crafts Movement in Surrey and has been compiled by eight contributing authors, all experts in their field, who put the events of that night into the broader context of the times. They are: Russell Morris, John Young, Amanda Le Boutillier, Sarah Sullivan, Michael Tooley, Robin Stannard, Nick Baxter and Lizzie Noble.

There is an event taking place on Friday, May 4, linked to the launch of the book to which interested people can attend. The full day programme costs £25 and includes the book launch, talks, a visit to the Phillips Memorial, lunch at the Kings Arms Royal Arms Hotel, a visit to the Titanic exhibition at Godalming Museum, and a guided tour around the house and gardens of Westbrook, the former home of architect Hugh Thackery Turner, that will also include tea and cakes. Attending the morning events only costs £10. Details from the website:

The excellent 66-page book features full colour images, including some watercolour paintings specifically for the book.

It is available from the website of The Arts and Crafts Movement in Surrey (see above) at £8.95, plus first class post and packing at £1.35.

The book is also on sale at Guildford Museum.


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