Navy hero Sir William's civic honour

WHITBY Civic Society unveiled its first new blue plaque for more than four years on Friday to honour Sir William Clarkson.

The service was performed by chairman Barry Atkinson and Whitby mayor Terry Jennison, a last minute replacement for Royal Australian Naval Advisor Capt Will Martin, whose flight from London was grounded due to the fallout from the Icelandic volcano eruption.

The plaque was unveiled at 10 St Hilda's Terrace, where Sir William spent the first 15 years of his life after being born in 1859, before moving to Newcastle and then onto Australia with the ship Protector, which he helped build.

At this time he was given the position of second engineer and the rank of Lieutenant in South Australia's naval force.

He rose through the ranks, including a brief stint back in England, becoming the senior technical officer of the naval forces of Australia.

Clarkson was again promoted during the First World War to Rear-Admiral and also took on responsibilities as Controller of Shipping for Australia and this led to a knighthood in 1918.

He was now a national figure and one national newspaper described him as a man "without peer".

He retired in 1927 and died of heart disease in 1934 when a full naval funeral was held and his ashes were shipped back to Whitby to be held in his family's vault.

A street in Canberra bears his name, commemorating the amazing achievement of the Whitby-born man who became the co-founder of the Royal Australian Navy.

Mr Atkinson told the Whitby Gazette: "He is very worthy of this honour and is a great son of Whitby of whom we should be very proud,"