PUTTING DIVER BILL ON THE SOUTH NORWOOD MAP – saved Winchester cathedral from collapse

The Dean of Winchester, Catherine Ogle, is coming all the way up to South Norwood to unveil a special plaque on the exterior of 118 Portland Road, once the home of William Walker (1869–1918) tomorrow (Saturday).

The plaque, the latest addition to the PPR (People for Portland Road) heritage trail, is being unveilked around 2.30pm.

So who was this William Walker? Only the local man who saved Winchester Cathedral from collapse!

A professional deep-water diver, he spent more than five years, propping up the cathedral’s water-logged foundations with concrete, working in total darkness in trenches as much as six metres deep, shifting thousands of bags of cement and concrete blocks.

Heavy work, especially in lead boots, a diving suit and a huge round copper helmet. But he’d still find the energy to cycle the 70 miles home to South Norwood at the weekend.

Walker has long been celebrated in Winchester, where they’ve even named a pub after him. Now, thanks to the sterling work of local historian John Hickman and plaque designer Ken Baker, PPR is about to put Diver Bill on the South Norwood map. (Source: People for Portland Road)

Further reading: Norwood Review (Norwood Society magazine) issues 109 and 201.

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