Page updated 30 April 2018
This is a fibreglass copy of an original statue put in place in 1848. In 1978, when Bovis were demolishing the old Waltons site for a new Marks and Spencer, the statue was removed with the intention of restoring it, and putting it in place over the new store. They discovered that the statue was made of timber, with a lead base–the main figure was made up of sections of timber, all of which, were badly rotted. The statue was sent to aspecialist London firm so that an exact copy be made of fibreglass, using the original as a template. The new copy was then placed in the same position, overlooking Queen Street on the new store.
The original statue was erected and paid for by George Ferris on the morning of the 24th May 1848, for the young Queen's 29th birthday. On each side was placed two huge vases, all of which, attracted a large crowd of onlookers. Ferris was the owner of the row of shops over which he erected the statue. On the day, all the local shops hung banners and Union flags to celebrate the Queen's birthday and the new addition to the street. Mr Sobey hung a flag and white banner with gold lettering "May God preserve Queen Victoria our Queen." Messrs Joslin and Quick's banner stated "Queen Victoria, Englands glory. Heaven protect her rights; Britons support the Throne;" with the Royal Arms and the City Arms.
A story appeared in the Flying Post in August 1892 regarding the painting of one of the buildings beneath the statue of the august Queen. The statue was positioned across the boundary of two buildings, with one foot over a chemist and the other over a ladies' tailor. When the painter had almost completed his task, he had reached the statue, and realised that he had the choice of leaving her unpainted or painting the whole. He decided to paint the whole, but when it came to the plinth, he painted only the side over the building he had been paid to paint, not wishing to trespass on the other building. The writer thought that the contrast would shame the owner of the unpainted front to employ the painter to refurbish his own shop front.
There is a second statue of Queen Victoria - it is much smaller, coloured piece, which can be found on the corner of Little Queen Street and Queen Street. See photo above.
Source: Flying Post, Express and Echo
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