Thomas Fowell Buxton In the News
As the project gathers momentum, public interest is growing. This page is an archive of various news items that have appeared recently, with a link where one is available.
The society held its first Annual General Meeting on 29th February 2012. Members approved the progress made over the year and endorsed the forward plan. Mr Harry Walton the journalist representing View from Weymouth made the following report in the subsequent issue. You can download the minutes of the AGM here
Strictly speaking the Thomas Fowell Buxton Society has not yet registered as a Charity, but is recognised by HMRC as a Charity for Tax Purposes. Once our income rises above £5000 p.a. we shall register with the Charity Commission as required by law
The planning documents were finally lodged with Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and a dialogue is in train regarding the details of the site. We had to find out what trees had been planted on the site, and positions with respect to the roundabout. We photographed the roundabout using a digital camera from two directions. Knowing that the roundabout was 37m in diameter we were able to cross plot the positions of the trees. The trees are Elms, a new variety resistant to the dutch elm disease that ravaged Britain's elm population 30 years ago. The lodging of the plans is a momentus event in the history of this project and the Dorset Echo reported it on Thursday 13th October
The Society held a public meeting on 8th June 2011 to showcase the winning design and present to winning student Peter Loizou with his prize, a cheque for £50 and a certificate. This was reported in View from Weymouth on 16th June 2011.
The account reads:
A STUDENT who produced the winning design for a special monument has been presented with his certificate and a cheque for £50. Peter Loizou of Weymouth College won his prize for a design to commemorate former Weymouth MP Thomas Fowell Buxton's achievement in masterminding the abolition of slavery in the British empire in 1833.
Thomas Fowell Buxton Society Chairman John Fannon said: "I thought Peter's design for the monument was absolutely fantastic. "It includes panels depicting Buxton from various periods in his life. "His choices for the monument were very appropriate and the Society had no hesitation in choosing him as the winner.
"This is a monument which will not date and it will grace Weymouth for many years to come on the Manor Roundabout."
Peter said: "The story of Buxton's life gave me the inspiration for the panels. "I will now be working on carving the monument which I hope will be complete in time for the 2012 Olympics.
"Although I have done the design, every masonry student at the college will contribute towards the completed monument."
Mr Rex Witts of Weymouth College, Dorset Skills Centre described the other prizes that Peter had won recently. He had won the Boss Stone Carving Competition for the second year running with judges saying that his work was the best that the college had ever seen. He also achieved second prize in a competition in Germany with competitors from all over Europe.
Note: to see the design, click here
With the winning design chosen on 6th May, public interest has been mounting regarding what the design will look like. The Dorset Echo gave a preview on Wednesday 1st June in the run up to the public meeting on 8th June, when Peter Loizou, the winning designer will be presented with his prize. Peter was recently awarded the Boss Stone Carving Competition for the second year in succession (see View from Weymouth 2nd June 2011). Staff at Weymouth College considered that he has produced some of the best work ever seen at the College.
Later in the week, the Weymouth and Portland advertiser gave the following headline
STAR television chef Ainsley Harriott has agreed to be patron of a group celebrating the life of a Weymouth baronet whose campaigning abolished slavery in the British Empire.
The Thomas Fowell Buxton Society announced that the "Ready, Steady, Cook" presenter had agreed to be their patron when they held their inaugural meeting in Weymouth.
Harriott not only accepted the role but wrote to the society and thanked them. He said: "I feel very honoured to be asked to be a patron and would gladly lend my name to support such a worthwhile cause. Keep up the brilliant work and thank you for bringing important history to people's attention."
That history actually shocked Harriott and society founder Joyce Fannon said: "Ainsley appeared on the 'Who Do You Think You Are?' television programme which revealed that his family line went back to the days of slavery.
"He found out that a West Indian plantation owner had fathered a child with a slave woman, had recognised that child and had given it his own surname of Harriott which is how Ainsley got his surname.
He knew nothing of this and was greatly shocked when he was told, so there is quite a poignant link between slavery, Ainsley and the society and that's why he agreed to be patron."
Society chairman John Fannon was delighted at Harriott's support and said: "To have such a star as Ainsley as our patron can do nothing but help our work to publicise the effort Thomas Buxton made to get slavery abolished. We plan to erect a monument to Buxton's memory and we have approached Dorset Skills Centre at Poundbury to produce it based on our choice from students' suggested designs. We hope it will be built next summer in time for the Olympics and top of our list of possible sites for it is Manor Roundabout on Dorchester Road."
News of the monument delighted Buxton's great-great- great grandson, Ben Buxton, who came from Wareham to attend the meeting. He said: "I think it is great that he is being recognised locally. To erect a monument in his memory is a fitting tribute to his life and work."
Weymouth and Portland Mayor Paul Kimber also attended and he praised the society's work to gain recognition for Buxton's contribution to freedom. He added:
"We must ensure as many people as possible know this and realise that slavery still exists in many parts of the world."
Mr Fannon added that Buxton, known as "Liberator", was elected MP of Weymouth in 1818-1836, slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833. He was knighted in 1840 and died at his home in Norfolk in 1845.
Mr Fannon said: "The society also hopes to take details of Buxton's achievements out to local schools so as many young people as possible are aware of what he fought for."
A MONUMENT to a long-forgotten but important campaigner could be erected on a prominent site in Weymouth. Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton was an MP for the town almost 200 years ago and a social reformer who worked for the abolition of the slave trade as well as changes in prisons and the law.
He used to live in Belfield House just off Buxton Road, which is named after him.
Many people see Sir Thomas every day without knowing who he is - he is pictured on a £5 note next to his sister-in-law, the prison reformer Elizabeth Fry.
Now a project in Weymouth aims to ensure he is remembered by more than just a road name.
It is hoped the monument, to be designed and carved by Weymouth College masonry students, can be in place by 2012. Sites under discussion include the Manor Roundabout on Dorchester Road or Hope Square.
Joyce Fannon of Buckland Ripers has spent the last couple of years researching and raising awareness of Sir Thomas through her talks to groups.This led to the formation of the Thomas Fowell Buxton Society, of which the Mayor of Weymouth and Portland Paul Kimber is Honorary President.
A draft constitution will be agreed at an inaugural meeting on Wednesday, February 16 in St Augustine's Church Hall off Dorchester Road, Lodmoor, Weymouth at 2pm. People will be encouraged to become members by paying £5.
Everyone is invited to the meeting where the monument proposal will be discussed.
Mrs Fannon, the former manager of the Life charity shop in Weymouth, said she first came to know Sir Thomas when she moved to Weymouth in 1986.
She said: "I fell in love with Belfield House and started reading up on it. Thomas Fowell Buxton became internationally famous but it seemed to me that Weymouth had forgotten him. He came into my mind again in 2007 when there were events to mark 200 years since the abolition of the slave trade and I thought I would try and raise his profile locally. One thing led to another and now we are at the stage where we are proposing to erect a monument in the Olympic year.
"His motto was 'Whatever thy hand findeth do, do it with thy might' and I think that's so appropriate for the Olympic competitors."
ON JANUARY 11TH the Catholic Womens League, Weymouth branch, agreed to hold a fund-raising event at St Augustine's Church Hall, Dorchester Road, for the recently formed Thomas Fowell Buxton Society. Councillor Paul Kimber, Mayor of Weymouth and Portland is the Society's Honorary President. The society's aim is to erect a monument by Easter 2012, to this former MP for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, 1818-1837.
The ladies heard from the speaker, Joyce Fannon, parishioner and secretary of the Society, that during this time he supported his sister-in-law's efforts to effect prison reform; she was Elizabeth Fry. Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton can be seen on the back of the £5 note. He is the tall gentleman, 6' 4", standing with the group in Newgate Prison. He was also part of a group of MPs who secured the reduction of crimes carrying the death penalty from over 200 down to just eight.
However it was his tireless work against slavery as an economic system for which he became famous. The abolition of the slave trade (1807) had not done away with Slavery; children were still being born into slavery on the plantations. He became leader of the anti-slavery Society in 1823, taking over from his ailing friend and mentor, William Wilberforce.
Despite ten years of opposition from colleagues and lampooning in the press, he achieved, through parliamentary means, the emancipation of slaves throughout the British Empire in 1833. It needed a Civil War to achieve the same ends in the USA.
He continued to show an interest on a global scale when he visited Pope Gregory XVI in Rome in 1839. The Pope had written an encyclical condemning the continuance of slavery. Thomas Fowell Buxton (C of E), his Quaker wife and the Pope were all passionately against slavery.
The CWL ladies were keen to help the society as a monument would reflect positively on the town in the Olympic year. Weymouth and Portland are hosting the sailing Olympics.
They empathised with the driving force behind all his achievements being his deeply held Christian faith; he was a typical 19th century do-gooder.
They felt grateful that, despite the opposition of his constituents in Weymouth, he voted for the Catholic Emancipation Bill of 1829, in a spirit of justice.
Lastly, they felt connected, in a 21st century way. with the presence in the diocese of Father Gerard Wilberforce, a descendant of William Wilberforce, Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton's friend and mentor.