Savage, Robert Arthur

A Dover painter and decorator, he attempted the Channel in 1930

Robert Arthur Savage was born in Maidstone in 1909, son of railway ticket collector Herbert Savage and Louisa Sellwood. The family moved around Kent a lot, including Ramsgate and Canterbury, before settling in Dover in the 1920s, at 123 Clarendon Place.

He announced in early 1930 that he would swim the Channel later that year. As part of his preparations he swam Folkestone to Dover and was to swim Dover to Ramsgate but was prevented by bad weather. He registered for the Dover Gold Cup and a Dover start but, after a long wait through the summer for the right conditions, it was finally announced that he had given up the Gold Cup and would make an easier French start attempt on 21 September 1930. His pilot Hodgson on the Jenner tug was due to take him over to Cap Gris Nez on the day before for an early morning start but a storm developed in the Channel and the attempt was called off. He vowed to try again in August 1931, if he could raise the money, but he was caught up in a local scandal that ended his Channel dreams

He began an illicit relationship with Dover girl Minnie Foxley and in the summer of 1932 she became pregnant. The relationship was not accepted by the families. Minnie was sent off to Maidstone, where a son John Francis Foxley was born on March 22 1933. Robert and Minnie were finally married at Dover at Christmas 1933 by the Salvation Army, days after the death of his mother Louisa. The couple and their son, brought up as John Francis Savage, fled to Worthing in Sussex

Another son Roland was born in Worthing in 1935 but Minnie accidentally smothered him the next day when she slept with him in her bed. This seems to have estranged the couple – Robert remained in Worthing but in 1935 Minnie and son John returned to east Kent to live in Folkestone, and later Thanet, where she died in 1987

Robert died in Portsmouth in 1979

R.A. Savage of Dover, has entered for the Dover Gold Cup and intends to make an attempt to swim from Dover to France in August. He has been training for over a month and amongst his long distance swims was one from Gibralter to Algiers, 11 miles.
11 July 1930 – Dover Express

Mr. R. A. Savage, of 123 Carendon Place, states that he is proposing to attempt to the Channel from Dover on Sunday week
31 July 1931 – Dover Express

On Monday, Mr. R. A. Savage swam from Folkestone to Dover 2hrs. 17mins. He left Folkestone Pier at 12.18 p.m., and landed at Shakespeare Beach 2.42
01 August 1930 – Dover Express

Mr. Savage is going to try the Dover to Ramsgate swim Sunday, if weather conditions permit.
08 August 1930 – Dover Express

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