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David Ford, History EditorTours > Winchester Cathedral

Tour the Winchester Cathedral
by David Nash Ford BA, Editor, History on Britannia

William Walker (Diver Bill) Memorial

In the south-east corner of the Retrochoir stands a rather understated bronze statuette on a slender column. Look closely and you will see that the man depicted is wearing an old-fashioned diving suit. This is William Walker, the man who saved Winchester Cathedral from certain collapse at the turn of the century.

The Retrochoir had been built in the early 13th century on a marshy area of land using only wooden foundations. Six hundred years later, of course, these were beginning to rot away. The cathedral started to subside and you can still see a definite lean (approximately 2.5 degrees) to the outside wall.

The original estimate to repair the cathedral was 3,000 but the job wound up costing 113,000 and taking seven years. Diver Bill worked in 14 feet of murky water beneath the building, digging out the old timber and peat foundations and replacing them with bags of concrete cement and concrete blocks! In his years underwater, Diver Bill moved 25,800 bags of concrete and laid 114,900 concrete blocks.

Next Stop: Cardinal Beaufort's Chantry

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