The bloke who saved WA

WHY isn’t there a statue of George Clifton in Fremantle, wonders Les Green.

The Round House guide says Freo council should forget pulling down colonial statues for a moment and put up one more of the former superintendent of WA’s water police; after all, the Freo resident almost single-handedly rescued the state from bankruptcy in 1852.

That was the year the ship Eglington was wrecked north of Freo with £65,000 for the struggling colonial government. Aboard An agent for Lloyd’s claimed salvage rights and shots were fired before Clifton dived the wreck to recover the money.

But Mr Green says that’s just a taste of Clifton’s incredibly colourful life.

• George Clifton

In 1855 the convict ship Stag became grounded on the Parmelia Bank during a gale, the conditions so perilous Fremantle’s harbourmaster refused to sail to the rescue, saying it would be a suicide mission.

But Clifton was more concerned about the lives of the 500 souls on board and with the captain of the Eglington sailed out to the ship and helped free the Stag from the sand, saving everyone on board.

There’s a whole lot more to Mr Clifton, which Mr Green will reveal at a talk he’s holding on the gun deck at Arthurs Head on November 12 at 12.40pm. Later at 1.30pm he’ll be talking about the four duels of Fremantle, including Thomas Peel’s ill-tempered attack on the captain of the Rockingham that left him sulking with a wounded hand.

by STEVE GRANT

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