Queen Victoria

The centrepiece of the Piccadilly Esplanade is the over-sized bronze statue of Queen Victoria seated on large throne wearing a lace dress with the Order of Garter. She is holding a sceptre is held in the right hand and an orb in the left. At the top of the throne is a bronze figure of St George fighting the dragon.  Six steps lead up to the throne.

Onslow Ford was commissioned to create this tribute to Victoria and at the outset the plan was for a marble statue. Queen Victoria had agreed to sit for the artist.  Apparently it was Victoria who felt that a marble staue wouldn't weather well in the smokey atmosphere of Manchester and the plans changed to bronze.  Unfortunately the statue wasn't completed until 1901 by which time Victoria was dead.

The unveiling was performed in 1901 by Lord Roberts the head of the army and by all accounts it was a raucus affair.  Large numbers of peole had turned out for the occasion but the grandstand erected for the dignitaries rather dominated the area and restricted the view of the large numbers of "ordinary" people who apparently made their discontent clear.  The organizing committee and the police were criticized and it was said that only good fortune prevented someone from being killed.

The statue itself became the focus of a lot of criticism from all quarters.  One correspondent wrote to a local newspaper saying of it: - "It is that as a work of art it is bad, and as a work of patriotism it is futile."  The image of Victoria has been described as depicting her "sombre and weary-looking."  The Westminster Review said of the edifice that it was "at once the most pretentious, the most incoherent and the most inept of any sculptural monument one has ever seen in England.."

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