Explorer Flinders to be immortalised by new London statue
A statue is being put up in London as a tribute to one of Lincolnshire's most famous sons.
Matthew Flinders, who was the first to circumnavigate Australia and gave the continent its name, is a national hero "Down Under".
But the legendary explorer and cartographer was brought up in Donington, eight miles from Spalding in the south of the county, attended the village school and went to sea at 15.
Now he is to be immortalised on the concourse of Euston Station, under which his bones are entombed in an ancient burial ground.
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And to raise £337,500 towards the total unrevealed cost of the statue – to be put up next year – appeal organisers are selling 75 miniatures for £4,500 apiece.
Born on March 6, 1774, Captain Flinders was a pioneer who came from a Lincolnshire family of doctors.
Inspired by the voyages of his hero Captain James Cook, he chose a maritime career.
He made three voyages to the southern ocean between August 1791 and October 1810, teaming up with another Lincolnshire-born sailor George Bass.
Flinders' health suffered on his travels and he was only 40 when he died back in London on July 19, 1814 – the day after his book, A Voyage to Terra Australis, was published.
There are more than 100 statues in Australia devoted to his legacy, and the Matthew Flinders Memorial Statue in the English capital will mark the 200th anniversary of his death.
South Australia's Agent-General Bill Muirhead revealed how the statue tribute was evolved.
"Late last year, we were approached by a retired Royal Navy officer who requested help with commemorating the bicentenary of Matthew Flinders' passing," he said.
"There was something very adventurous and determined about Flinders, qualities which I consider to be very South Australian – those of triumphing against the odds."
With support from the state government back in Australia, sculptor Mark Richards has also produced a series of limited edition maquettes – miniatures of the original.
They were unveiled at a private reception at Australia House in London last week.
"Matthew Flinders' remarkable achievements are mostly unknown in the United Kingdom," Mr Richards said.
"And with that in mind, I see this sculpture to be as much an introduction as it is a commemoration to his legacy.
"And I feel honoured to have been asked to undertake such a landmark commission."
John Allen is chairman of the memorial statue steering committee.
He said: "The event at Australia House gives us the opportunity to bring the Flinders Memorial Project to the attention of some very prominent people.
"They are associated with the special relationship between the United Kingdom and Australia.
"And the finance raised from the sale of the maquettes will contribute to the statue, which marks this event as a worthy cause."
The Lincolnshire legend's bicententary celebrations start with the unveiling of a miniature of the Euston at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, next Tuesday, August 13.