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Who should join Barry Mason on the Southwark Portrait Bench?

Southwark residents are invited to vote for two local characters who should be depicted in life-size effigies on a new walking and cycling route in South Bermondsey.

David Haye
David Haye could be immortalised in steel alongside Barry Mason as part of the Connect2 project

The Southwark Portrait Bench – part of a national public art project – is a simple bench with three life-size steel effigies of local characters chosen to represent local culture and history.

The bench will be installed along the new 5-mile walking and cycling route between Camberwell and Rotherhithe via a disused railway bridge at South Bermondsey.

The route is part of the national Connect2 project which won 50 million of National Lottery funding in a public vote four years ago.

One of the figures who will grace the Southwark bench has already been chosen: Barry Mason, coordinator of Southwark Cyclists and manager of Surrey Docks Farm, who died suddenly on holiday in Spain earlier this year.

An indefatigable campaigner, he was one of the driving forces behind the project to turn the overgrown and inaccessible bridge across Rotherhithe New Road into a useful route for walkers and cyclists.

Now Sustrans is holding a public vote to choose the two local figures who should appear alongside Barry. There are seven candidates – several with strong connections to the SE1 area – and votes can by cast by emailing southwarkportraitbench@sustrans.org.uk. The deadline is Tuesday 20 December.

Candidates for the Southwark Portrait Bench

William Cubitt was the engineer who built the railway line to Bricklayers Arms, where the South Eastern Railway and London and Croydon Railway set up a passenger terminus to avoid the hefty charges being imposed by the London and Greenwich Railway for the use of their station at London Bridge. The Connect2 route will make use of the disused bridge across Rotherhithe New Road which once carried trains to Bricklayers Arms.

Actor Sir Michael Caine was born at St Olave's Hospital – where there is a Southwark blue plaque – and grew up near Elephant & Castle.

Boxer David Haye grew up on the Kipling Estate in Bermondsey – where there is a garden named 'The Haye' in his honour – and attended Snowsfields Primary School

Sam King was Southwark's first black mayor in 1983, the only black mayor in Britain at the time, and was awarded an MBE in 1998 for outstanding services to the community.

Una Marson was a Peckham and Camberwell resident, feminist, activist and writer who in 1941 was the first black woman to be employed by the BBC.

Phyllis Pearsall: East Dulwich born in 1906, Pearsall devised the A-Z map of London, walking 3,000 miles to map the 23,000 streets of 1930s London.

Early feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft lived in Southwark for three years from 1788. A blue plaque in Dolben Street records her link to the borough.

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