Tribute 'portrait bench’ unveiled to cycling campaign legend Barry Mason in Greenland Dock

Barry Mason bench

Earlier this month, people from all around London rode to the unveiling of a portrait bench, alongside a bike route in South London, featuring a symbolic sculptural tribute to renowned campaigner Barry Mason (pictured below) who died in June 2012.

The sculpture features two of Barry’s prime interests - bicycles and birds - and stands alongside sculptures of actor Michael Caine, and Phylis Pearsall, creator of the A to Z map. 

Barry was a driving force behind the revival of cycle campaigning first in Greenwich (as coordinator of the LCC group Greenwich Cyclists) and then in Southwark (as coordinator of Southwark Cyclists).  

Campaigners from around London sought Barry’s sage advice on successful campaigning techniques which he utilised to great effect in Southwark persuading the council to listen to cycle users and improve access for cyclists.  

As well as campaigning for improved facilities Barry established legendary status as a ride leader with several of his rides, including the Locks, Docks and One Smoking Ferry Ride, becoming essential occasions in the London cycling calendar.  

For many years Barry arranged logistics for the now world-famous Dunwich Dynamo – a 120-mile overnight ride to the Suffolk Coast which boomed in popularity under his leadership.  

One of Barry’s pieces of advice to campaigners was that organised rides are an excellent way of recruiting more activists.

In his day job Barry ran the Surrey Docks City Farm which flourished under his management. 

The portrait bench along a cycling link in Southwark is one of a series of such benches installed by Sustrans to mark it’s Connect-2 cycling projects. 

Barry Mason


I had the honour of knowing Barry in his later years, and took to heart his advice on the value of organised social rides. Some of the rides that I lead today are variations on Barry's routes, and I and my fellow members of the Dog & Bell Crew of SE London ride leaders hold dear the memory of Barry. We miss Barry terribly, and are doing our best to build on his considerable legacy.

It's a shame that the portraits have been put in the wrong place in relation to the bench. I've been on to Sustrans about this and they agree that there has been a mistake. They have sent me the plan for the installation, which show that the 3 statues are not where Sustrans asked for them to be placed. Not only is the result aesthetically unpleasing, but there's hardly any bum room on the bench, so it's a bit useless, not fit for purpose. I think Barry would have had words with them about that. He liked things to be fit for purpose. Anyway, I'm chasing it up... Jane

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