This small and quiet park has a hidden gem, a wall of memorial plaques opened in 1900, commemorating the bravery of ordinary people, policemen, and firemen who gave their own lives to save another.
A project of artist George Frederic Watts, the plaques are exquisitely executed with ornate typeface and Royal Doulton china designed by leading tile designer William De Morgan. They are a pleasure to behold in this small green space in such a built up area, even before you begin to unravel the story behind them.
The tales they illustrate bring to life a world devoid of warning signs and health and safety regulations, along with a sense of community spirit and two fingers up to the indifference that can sometimes be found in the modern world today.
Some examples of the plaques:
‘Soloman Galaman Aged 11, Died saving his little brother from being run over in Commerical Street in Sept 1901’
‘Alice Ayres, Daughter of a bricklayer’s labourer, who by intrepid conduct saved 3 children from a burning house…at the cost of her own young life, April 1885’
‘William Goodrum Aged 60, Signalman. Lost his life at Kingsland Rd Bridge in saving a workman from death under the approaching train form Kew’
Some of the short tales told on the wall include tales of firemen who died trying to pull victims from burning buildings, a number of people who perished while trying to save others from drowning, heroes who were run down in the streets by carriages, and people who were killed while trying to prevent the suicide of others. There are dozens of great tales on the wall.
Around 120 tiles were initially intended for the project, Watts was alive for the installation of just four slates prior to his death in 1904 at the age of 87. His wife, Mary took over the project and ensconced an additional 35, with one in memory of George Fredrick. There are currently 54 plaques in situ, with the last one being added in 2009 in memoriam of Leigh Pitt, a reprographics operator who drowned while saving a boy in the canal in 2007.
In 2013 an app was released called Everyday Heroes of Postman’s Park, which allows users to check out in-depth profiles of the heroes on the wall. The Park was given Grade II status in 2018.
Know Before You Go
Off Little Britain and not far from St Pauls Cathedral. Also opposite St Bart's hospital.
The plaques are tucked away in a corner underneath a protective shelter with wooden benches for contemplation.