Statue of Queen Victoria (1819-1901)
In 1897 Mr W.H. Barber, a Birmingham solicitor and benefactor of the barber Institute, offered to present the first outdoor statue of Queen Victoria to the city in memory of his father and to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee that year. Barber considered Brock the most suitable sculptor for the commission, as he had already executed three statues of the Queen in Worcester, Capetown and Lucknow, as well as having modelled the Queen's image in the coinage of 1897. Barber insisted that the statue should be an enlarged replica of Brock's statue at Worcester Hall. The offer of the statue was accepted by the City on 27th July 1897 (1) and the completed work was unveiled twelve days before the death of the Queen, in an open space outside the Council House, renamed Victoria Square. (2) The original white marble statue stood on a pedestal of dark Cornish granite, the figure of the Queen made more monumental by the lengthened state robes. The statue remained here, flanked by the statues of John Skirrow Wright and Joseph Priestly, until 1913 when they were replaced by the statue of King Edward VII. In 1950 the square was redesigned as part of the permanent works marking the Festival of Britain, 1951. King Edward VII was removed to Highgate
Park and, as the marble original of Queen Victoria had weathered badly, the Council of the Civic Society provided a grant of £800 towards the cost of reproducing it in bronze. (3) Removed from the square on 13th March 1950, the statue was renovated by William Bloye before being cast in bronze. It was returned to the site on 25th May 1951 and erected on a pedestal of light coloured Cornish granite, thus reversing the original colour contrast of sculpture and base. It was unveiled by Princess Elizabeth on 9th June 1951. Victoria Square has since been completely pedestrianised and new sculpture has been erected by Dhruva Mistry and Anthony Gormley, in addition to the re-positioning of Queen Victoria, the whole being 're-opened' by the Princess of Wales.
Queen Victoria's long reign coincided with the increasing industrial prosperity and imperial expansion of Britain and she was greatly mourned upon her death on 22nd January 1901.
'VICTORIA R.I./ 1837-1901'
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