The Erasmus Darwin Foundation

In April 1984 our Newsletter reported that "founder member John Sanders educates as he entertains" - what next will he have to give us? On that occasion he was giving his earliest thoughts about the Erasmus Darwin Walk. Subsequently he has continued to inspire through his undiminished infectious enthusiasm.

We had all observed the deterioration of Darwin House in Beacon Street, and had been heartened when positive signs of intended restoration appeared - lorries and ladders, helmets with heads in, toe-protecting boots and smart suits with clip-boards. Then the external skeleton of safely secured scaffolding was followed by a wrapping of plastic sheeting. John related the story of how this process began. A talk by Desmond King-Hele to a medical group, followed by a visit to the tired and decaying Darwin House, had inspired the establishment of the "Erasmus Darwin Foundation" dedicated to arresting further destruction, the result of many years of neglect.

Illustrating with his slides - photographs taken during his many visits to the house - John's description of the work's progress was laced with those chuckling samples of whimsical humour we have come to expect and continue to relish. Pediments and porticos, flooring and fenestration, Dave and Andy, light and shade, were all subjected to his critical but educated eye. The workmanship, the intention and the result were all given their due. We left the meeting eager for the arrival of Easter Monday when the Erasmus Darwin Centre will be open. John Sanders is a man who loves Lichfield and who rejoices in the new found health of one of its gems.

Ivor Mitchell
February 1999