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Painting honour for famous Gravesend resident

PUBLISHED: 14:44 28 October 2010

Library worker Alison Nolan, historian Tony Larkin, and library workers Martin Owen and Glynis Selby

Library worker Alison Nolan, historian Tony Larkin, and library workers Martin Owen and Glynis Selby

Archant

The life of one of the town’s most eminent residents has been celebrated with a commissioned painting to be hung in the library.

Robert Pocock, a celebrated naturalist botanist and historian died on October 26, 1830, and to commemorate the 180th anniversary of his death, alongside celebrating the 250th anniversary of his birth, the Gravesend Heritage Society handed a painting to library staff in the temporary site in the St Georges Centre on Tuesday.

Tony Larkin, a member of the heritage society presented the painting, commissioned from Kent artist Doug Walters.

He said: “We actually had two commissioned on the 200th anniversary of the printing press in 1986.

“One we gave to the council, which is quite ironic as the council at the time despised Pocock, but the other we have had knocking around.

“As he was the first founder of a library in the town we felt it would be right to give to the library,”

Born and bred in Gravesend High Street, Pocock led a controversial life, establishing a thriving printing business in the town before falling out with local authorities when researching his histories.

The corporation, as the local council was called during this period, punished him by supporting a rival business, and by the end of his life Pocock was a pauper buried in an unmarked grave in Wilmington.

“He was an interesting character,” said Mr Larkin, “I would have loved to have met him. He spent his final years living with his son in Dartford and even then couldn’t rest, researching the history of Dartford and Wilmington.”

The Heritage Society is in negotiations with Wilmington Parish Council to establish a plaque in its cemetery marking his life, as his burial place is unknown.

Gravesend Library staff thanked the society for the gift and will hang it near three plaques commemorating important town figures in the temporary building, before a spot can be found in the new building expected to be finished by summer next year.

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