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About Madeira : History : Famous Visitors Last Updated: Jun 28, 2008 - 12:29:23 AM


Winston Churchill in Madeira
By Jorge Barbosa
Jun 6, 2008 - 10:29:53 AM


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Upon the reading of a letter to F. H Keenlyside, the Assistant Manager of a Steamship Company, written in 1950, immediately before his departure to Madeira, Churchill states that "It was fifty years, not fifteen, that I travelled this way before". He was correcting the assumption made by Mr. Keenlyside before that he had visited Madeira 15 years prior to 1950.
The Refreshed Winston Churchill
 

Churchill found himself recovering quickly from his fatigue in Madeira, it offered him the stability and tranquility that he required to face the upcoming elections in 1951, and the memories and detachment needed for relection and perspection. His health and demeanour improved so much he would meander through the streets of Funchal inspecting and reminiscing the bucolic town that it was. He was well received by the local town folk and was esteemed for his courteousness and bonhomie-like character. Churchill often responded to salutations with his traditional V symbol. The symbol of victory and peace, which he popularised and conveyed to everyone during his leadership in and after the Second World War. Funchal was mesmerised by the cigar smoking man who jaunted about in such a carefree manner.

Churchill returns to England to become Prime Minister again.

Churchill's visit to Madeira in 1950 was cut short by the earlier than expected call to elections in Britain. The early general election announced by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Atlee, forced Curchill to leave Madeira on the 12th of January 1950.

His wife, Clementine, remained in Madeira for a longer while. Churchill telegraphed Clementine on several occasions to make sure that she was enjoying the rest of her holiday. Nevertheless, Clementine left Madeira on the 19th of January to support her dear Winston in the upcoming elections. The elections that would lead to his second and last premiership.

Perhaps, that brief interlude, the short interval to reminisce, to paint, and recover strengths, helped Sir Winston Churchill reenvigorate himself one last time for his final vaunt in the fierce world of British politics. His recovery and resultant victory in the 1951 elections gave a whole new perspective to the class of tourists one could expect in Madeira from thereon. The british consolidated fast their position as the principal foreign visitor market to Madeira for decades to come, and along with the nuances and character so typically English helped intertwine successfully culture, traits, and "business as usual" approach (Churchill, Speech at Guildhall, Nov. 9, 1914) to affairs into the patchwork of the history of the Island of Madeira. An evident influence as apparent as any other, even from Portugal. Churchill´s aura or presence persists, in Câmara de Lobos, at the Reids Hotel, but mostly through the generations of britons today who continously flock to the island in the finest british tradition.

 

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