Deal Porters sculpture returns

(above) The sculpture has been cleaned, repainted and the oak parts replaced 

They’re back! The historic Deal Porters, immortalised in cast bronze and oak, have returned to their rightful home on the island in Canada Dock.  

The Deal Porters sculpture has been spruced up as part of works to revitalise the dock being carried out by our contractors Galldris. The piece was taken to a specialist warehouse in Bristol for renovation. The cast figures have been cleaned and treated to maintain their condition, with the oak elements having been replaced and the steel arc cleaned and given a new coat of paint. The restoration team worked with original artists Philip Bews and Diane Gorvin to make sure the restoration stayed true to their design.   

The sculpture has been away for nearly a year since it was taken for restoration in April 2023. Galldris have been waiting for a suitable window in their dock restoration in which to reinstate it. As part of the improvements to the Dock Edge we will also be refurbishing and improving the information board explaining the history of the Deal Porters that was previously located along Deal Porters Way.  

The works at the dock, due for completion later this year, will create a natural habitat with enriched biodiversity and opportunities for people to enjoy it with a boardwalk, dipping pond and steps down to the water’s edge. The revitalised setting will give the Deal Porters sculpture more prominence as part of an urban landscape that celebrates the heritage of Canada Water.  

Deal porters epitomised the distinctive culture of the working docks until the mid-20th century. Their work, unloading and stacking large baulks of timber, known as deal, that arrived from Canada, North America and the Baltics, was acrobatic, tough and dangerous. The dynamic sculpture shows one porter lifting the end of a deal baulk while the other takes it onto his shoulder.  

Michael Delfs, Development Executive at British Land, said: “We’re very glad to have the Deal Porters home again, overlooking Canada Dock where these workers plied their trade for so many years. As we work to revitalise Canada Water, we want to celebrate the history and identity of the place and help keep these stories alive. We hope the restoration of both the sculpture and the surrounding dock will enable people to enjoy this artwork in full.” 


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