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Swaffham road named after unsung naval hero

PUBLISHED: 09:22 04 December 2009 | UPDATED: 11:31 08 July 2010

HE is one of mid-Norfolk's unsung heroes and more than 85 years after he died the success and bravery of a naval admiral from Swaffham has been recognised in his home town.

HE is one of mid-Norfolk's unsung heroes and more than 85 years after he died the success and bravery of a naval admiral from Swaffham has been recognised in his home town.

Swaffham's newest road, which provides access to the Hatchery housing development being built by Abel Homes, has been named Admiral Wilson Way.

The name is a tribute to Admiral Sir Arthur Knyvet Wilson who was born in the town in 1842, joined the navy at 14 and rose through the ranks to become Admiral of the Fleet.

He was buried in Swaffham churchyard in 1921.

The road name was selected by a panel of judges - Maggie Abel from Abel Homes, Swaffham's mayor, David Harman, and the Times' Swaffham and Watton reporter Dominic Chessum - from more than a dozen suggestions made by town residents.

Two new street signs were unveiled by Vic Tucker, the man who suggested the name, and Mr Harman on Friday when the pair raised a glass of sailors' rum as a toast.

Mr Tucker said: “He is a much underrated and ignored local resident and I am very pleased.

“This is a fitting tribute.”

Mr Harman, who used to be in the navy himself and is secretary of the Swaffham branch of the Royal Naval Association, said: “He was a brave man and I hope this will bring him to the attention of more people in the town.

“Swaffham is not a very big town and it is not every town which has a Victoria Cross holder. “

Admiral Wilson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery at the battle of El-Teb during the Anglo-Sudanese campaign between 1896 and 1898.

In his book Swaffham: the making of a town, Gerry Waldron described Admiral Wilson's part in the battle.

He wrote: “He was with a patrol of soldiers as an observer when they came under heavy attack and it soon became obvious that the British were losing ground and so Sir Arthur jumped in with drawn sword and accounted for some of the enemy.

“When his sword broke he used his fists to great effect and the enemy was beaten off.”

Wilson was made an Admiral in 1897 and held various positions in the admiralty before becoming First Sea Lord in 1909. He retired in 1912 but came out of retirement for world war one.

He lived in Beech Cottage, on the corner of Northwell Pool Road and what is now Sporle Road in Swaffham

His Victoria Cross was donated to the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth.

Maggie Abel said: “I am thrilled that we found someone so eminent to name this road after.”

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