Oil painting; Lieutenant Thomas Fletcher Waghorn RN, who pioneered the overland mail route to India; ‘Presented to the town of Chatham by William Phillips Esq, High Constable 1884’.
It was transferred to the museum from Chatham Town Hall in June 1977. Painted by Sir George Hayter, court portrait and history painter to Queen Victoria at the commencement of her reign. National Portrait Gallery has a copy of this painting.
Thomas Fletcher Waghorn (1800–1850) was a postal pioneer who developed a new route from Great Britain to India. Waghorn’s route reduced the journey from 16,000 miles, via the Cape of Good Hope, to 6,000 miles: from three months to between 35 and 45 days.
Waghorn was born in Chatham and baptised at St Mary’s Church. His father, also Thomas, was a butcher and had married Ann Goodhugh at All Saints’ Church, Snodland, on 28 July, 1794.
A statue of Waghorn was raised in Railway Street, Chatham, in 1888. He is said to point to the new overland route, but local wags say he’s giving directions to the gent’s lavatories!
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