HE’S a man that has become a cherished beacon of Portsmouth’s history and today the city celebrated the 205th anniversary of his birth.
Charles Dickens’ memory was honoured as wreaths were laid at his birth place in Old Commercial Road and at the statue in Guildhall Square.
To this day I am very much in awe of him as he remains for myself and so many others as a real inspiration.Gerald Dickens
The author was born in Portsmouth on February 7, in 1812.
His great-great grandsons Gerald and Ian Dickens travelled down for the event.
Councillor David Fuller, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth led the proceedings in a toast and wreath-laying ceremony at the museum before a garland was laid around the neck of the statue later in the day.
Gerald, 54, who lives in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, said: ‘To this day I am very much in awe of him as he remains for myself and so many others as a real inspiration.
‘He is such a man of the people and you think of what he achieved, it really brings it all home.’
Gerald and Ian helped raise the funds for the statue to be installed, which involved walking the same London-to-Portsmouth route as Nicholas Nickleby did in their ancestor’s novel.
Gerald praised the statue.
He said: ‘It’s so good that we have him down here at head height so he can be seen by the community. Being a part of the people was what he was all about.’
Hourly readings of the author’s work were given at the Dickens Birthplace Museum in Old Commercial Road by members of the Birthplace Branch of the Dickens Fellowship.
Professor Tony Pointon, of the Dickens Fellowship, gave a short speech at the statue.
He told The News: ‘The statue is now truly a part of the square as much as Charles Dickens is firmly a part of our city’s history.
‘There’s so much of his legacy that resides here that people don’t know about.’
The statue was formerly opened by the great-great grandsons three years ago.
Tim Suffolk, chairman of the Birthplace branch of the Dickens Fellowship said the sculpture was now at home in the square.
He added: ‘The sculpture serves a real purpose here as it shows Dickens in his real element of being down here with the people.
‘Children can come and climb on him which is just what we wanted and now the statue has become a real fixture of the square.’