According to the website www.thisiskent, which carries general news about the county of Kent in the south-east area of the UK, the new statue celebrating the best-selling 007 author (and former local resident), will be sited in the port town of Dover, in Kent.
In a press release issued on December 17, the local authorities in the area announced that Ian Fleming is the third of three famous people with local Kent connections who have been selected to be celebrated with a special statue, the other two being the veteran singer Vera Lynn and the Olympics torch-bearer Jamie Clark. Moreover, whereas the first two, Lynn and Clark, were chosen by local government officials, the James Bond author was chosen through a poll of the general public in the area, who were able to vote for their preferred choice from a short-list of historical figures with local connections. The shortlist consisted of Ian Fleming, Cuthbert Ottoway (a famous nineteenth century footballer), King Henry II, and King James I. The Bond author received 45% of the votes cast.
Fleming will now be immortalized in a steel statue on the seafront at Dover, which is bound to become a strong draw for James Bond fans in the near future.
The local area also has other Fleming-related connections. In World War Two parts of the coastal terrain were used for training purposes by both the RNVR (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve) and the Royal Marine Commandos. Fleming, of course, as well as being an assistant to Admiral Godfrey, the Director of Naval Intelligence, was also a Commander in the RNVR. The future Bond author also helped plan various operations involving the Royal Marines, who were the military wing of the Royal Navy.
Fleming’s Love of Kent
The James Bond author undoubtedly loved Kent. During the 1930s, one of Fleming’s favourite weekend treats was to stay at the Guildford Hotel, Sandwich Bay. In December, 1951, he purchased a beautiful house in Kent (described as a ‘cottage’) called ‘White Cliffs’, which he bought from his famous playwright friend Noel Coward (who, in turn, had originally purchased it in 1945). Fleming lived in the house from 1952-1957. Coward was also an occasional guest at Fleming’s new residence, and other guests included the thriller writer Eric Ambler, who had also lived in the same row of houses during the late 1940s.
Fleming treated the property, which was located near the pebbled beach at St. Margaret’s Bay, not far from Dover, as his weekend home and UK holiday retreat. He often went there when he was editing the ‘Atticus’ column for the Sunday Times, his employer in London. Interestingly, the Pines Garden Museum at St. Margaret’s Bay has a small exhibition of memorabilia relating to both Fleming and Noel Coward.
One of Ian Fleming’s regular Pubs was the Duck Inn, Kent, where he would go for his favourite steak and kidney pie (and today there is a seat in the garden of the Pub which has a plaque dedicated to the creator of 007). Fleming’s love of the Kent area can also be seen in his James Bond novels. He included the famous White Cliffs of Dover and the surrounding areas in his third 007 adventure Moonraker (1955) and, again, references to nearby Margate can be seen in Goldfinger (1959). There has been some speculation by Bond scholars that, when he was creating the rocket base for Hugo Drax in Moonraker, Fleming may possibly have been inspired by the secret tunnels under Dover Castle, which had been carved out of the chalk White Cliffs. During the War, the tunnels had hosted a secret HQ used by Britain’s Army and Naval planners.
Fleming, of course, was also a very keen golf enthusiast and was a member of the Royal St. George’s golf Club in Kent (which in the novel Goldfinger became the fictional ‘Royal St. Mark’s golf Club’ at Sandwich). In fact, it was at the St. George’s where the James Bond author had a fatal heart attack in August, 1964, and tragically died soon after, aged just 56.