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In 1889 Alfred Salter worked at Guy's hospital in London; when visiting a patient in nearby Bermondsey he was shocked by the poverty and appalling housing conditions.

In 1890 he came to live and practice in Bermondsey and upset colleagues by charging only sixpence for medical consultations. In 1902 he was elected to the local Borough and became a Justice of Peace.

Unusually for a person in his position and as a commitment to the people of Bermondsey he had his daughter, Joyce, educated locally. Joyce, his only child, died of scarlet fever. This personal tragedy which might have been averted had Joyce been educated elsewhere strengthened his resolve to work to improve peoples’ lives and diminish the twin causes of premature death, disease and war. A committed pacifist in later life he became treasure of the Peace Pledge Union.

With his wife Ada they bought Fairby Grange in nearby Kent and turned it into a convalescent home for Bermondsey patients. In 1922 Alfred Salted became an MP for Bermondsey and London’s first woman Mayor, Ada Salter, announced the result. Described by the Daily Telegraph at the time as an object lesson of what can be done with ingenuity even in the poorest area, Ada Salter's aim to have trees in every street resulted in 9000 trees being planted in the borough within two years.

As well as helping to establish a number of play facilities for children in the borough Alfred Salter prepared plans for replacing 180-year-old tenements with lower density housing. After the labour election victory in 1924 the plan rapidly turned into reality.

Alfred Salter died in 1945

 ALFRED SALTER Bermondsey Wall East, Rotherhithe, London, SE16
Diane Gorvin. 1989
Shows Alfred Salter waving to his daughter Joyce who is leaning against the Thames Wall, a cat watches from the distance. It represent an old man remembering happier times when his 'sunshine', as he called his daughter, was alive.


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