17th November 2009

Shropshire’s Captain Matthew Webb Named As Unsung Hero

Shropshire’s Captain Matthew Webb Named As Unsung Hero

Captain Matthew Webb, the first person to swim the English Channel without the use of artificial aids, has been ranked as 25th in a list of Britain’s top 50 unsung heroes.

Born on 19th January 1848 at Dawley in Shropshire, Captain Matthew Webb swam the 26 miles from Dover to Calais in less than 22 hours in August 1875.

The list of Britain’s top 50 unsung heroes has been compiled to mark the 15th anniversary of the National Lottery and highlights those Great Britons whose achievements may have previously been overlooked.

As a child, a young Matthew Webb would practice his swimming in the River Severn near his home at Coalbrookdale in the Ironbridge Gorge despite repeated warnings from his father about the Severn’s currents. His passion for swimming continued and it was his practice in the River Severn that strengthened his abilities and boosted his confidence ultimately leading him to achieve his success as the first person to swim the English Channel.

There are still a number of sites in Dawley and the nearby area that are connected with Captain Webb including a memorial in Dawley High Street which has the short inscription: "Nothing great is easy." In nearby Coalbrookdale stands Holy Trinity Church in which the Webb family attended services every Sunday and where Webb’s parents are buried in the graveyard. Inside the church, there is also a commemorative plaque celebrating his achievement.

For further information on Shropshire’s Captain Matthew Webb visit http://www.shropshiretourism.co.uk/captain-webb

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