The sculptor died before completing the figure of Sturge. He is shown as if teaching, his right hand resting on a Bible. Set upon its original base, a rare example in Birmingham, the figure groups, carved in Portland stone, consist of Charity, shown here as a woman suckling a Afro-Carribean child (a reference to the struggle against slavery), and Peace, shown holding an olive branch, with a lamb symbolic of innocence. The basin inscribed 'Temperance' is a symbol of the act of charity, whilst the fountain dispenses a pure and harmless drink.
Costing £1000,(2) this memorial was unveiled in front of 12,000 onlookers at the junction of the city and Edgbaston, the district where he had lived.(3) A newspaper article of 1885 tells how the right hand of the figure fell off around ten years earlier, but makes reference to Sturge being one of a number of men 'who are beyond the ephemeral praise of their age'.(4) The memorial was moved to its present position in 1925, still near the original site
Joseph Sturge was born into a wealthy Quaker family in Gloucester and did not move to Birmingham until 1822 when he set up as a corn merchant. Elected an alderman in Birmingham's first Borough Council of 1838, it was his philanthropic work towards the abolition of the negro slave trade, his support of temperance, Sunday schools and the establishment and funding of the Midlands' first reformatory, which earned him public commemoration and the epithet 'Apostle of Peace'.(1)
Basin inscribed; 'Temperance'
PMSA recording information