William Walker Watch | History
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The amazing history of William Walker


A century ago Winchester Cathedral was saved by the heroic work of Portsmouth dockyard diver, William Walker.

The cathedral had been in imminent danger of collapse as it was sinking slowly into the ground, which consisted of peat.
Known as ‘Diver Bill’ he was employed to descend into the murky water of 235 pits, each about 6m deep, to temporarily shore up the walls by putting concrete underneath them.
He worked from 1906 until 1911 supporting the cathedral using more than 25,000 bags of concrete, 115,000 concrete blocks and 900,000 bricks.

A Cathedral built on a wooden barge?

Here is the Clerk of Works, Edwin Long next to beech logs that the South East end of the Cathedral’s foundations were build upon in 1202AD. Not the best foundation for a cathedral, but they lasted 700 years! The decay of these logs were the reason for the subsidence. After these were removed, concrete foundations were extended down to solid gravel.