A replacement plaque to commemorate Sir Francis Chichester’s single-handed voyage around the globe 50 years ago has been revealed ahead of the official unveiling later this year. It is to replace the original bronze swept away in the winter storms of 2014.
The Council has commissioned sculptor Andrew Mitchell to produce the replica bronze plaque based on the twin casting of the original by sculptor Richard Grasby. The other plaque can be seen in Shirwell Church, North Devon (the birthplace of Sir Francis).
This plaque is to celebrate the achievements of the Devonian yachtsman who was the first to sail single-handed around the world with only one stop and the fastest at the time – in nine months and one day.
The new bronze is being mounted on the wall next to the Waterfront Restaurant, which was once the home of the Royal Western Yacht Club, where Sir Francis Chichester was Commodore in 1972.
This initial display of the plaque marks the beginning of wider celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Sir Francis Chichester’s departure from the city on 27 August 1966. The formal unveiling will be on Saturday 27 August 2016, exactly 50 years on.
Council leader Tudor Evans said: “Sir Francis’ voyage is part of our history and many of our older residents still remember the spectacular welcome the city gave.
“As Britain’s Ocean City, we are keen to make more of our incredible history – whether that’s 400 years ago or a few decades. Ironically our closeness to the water meant that the original plaque got lost in the horrendous storms. We have some really exciting plans in the pipeline to mark this incredible achievement and will be announcing them shortly.”
Giles Chichester, son of Sir Francis, was responsible, together with Plymouth City Council, for the original plaque unveiled by HRH Prince Philip in 1997. He has supported this project to replace the plaque, including a donation towards funding it. Giles said: “Plymouth was the start and the finishing line of my father’s epic journey and the astonishing support the city gave him when he came home in 1967 is something we will never forget.
“I am delighted that the Council is replacing the plaque, so that the original wonderful occasion is remembered.”