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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Southend-On-Sea’s Queen Victoria Statue

Updated: Jun 18

On the 24th May 1898, a statue of Queen Victoria was unveiled on Pier Hill in Southend-On-Sea to celebrate both The Queen's diamond jubilee and her 79th Birthday. If you're local to Southend or surrounding areas then you will probably be familiar with the statue of Queen Victoria on Clifftown Parade.

© Amelia Stephenson / Queen Victoria Revival

Southend is known for it's seaside attractions and has been widely associated with being a seaside retreat during the Victorian era. Whilst doing one of my college degrees I was tasked with researching the local towns history and of course I chose to research the statue of Queen Victoria!

Although one of Southend's famous landmarks, the statue of the Monarch was pretty much 'evicted' from her more prominent place west of The Royal Hotel on Pier Hill in the 1960's. A local rumor has it that she was originally facing the gentleman's toilets but in fact her original position was strategically selected so that she faced north of the Thames to command the view of all passing vessels.

The statue in its original location © Visit Southend

The man behind the gift was Bernard Wiltshire Tolhurst, the mayor of Southend who gifted the statue to the people of Southend. The statue was carved by Joseph Swynnerton at his studios in Italy. The entire monument is 20ft and was carved from a 19-tonne block of marble which was shipped from the Tuscan city of Carrara. Swynnerston was commissioned to create this monument to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The Queen is depicted in The throne, in the neo-Gothic style, was executed from a design by Edward Goldie of Sheffield, an architect notable for designing almost exclusively Roman Catholic churches.

© Southend Museums

The honours of unveiling were passed to Lady Rayleigh (Evelyn Georgiana Mary Balfour) wife of the Lord Lieutenant of Essex as Queen Victoria herself did not attend the ceremony.

In 1962 the time came for the statue to be relocated, it was relocated further along the esplanade to make way for the footbridge development.

Unfortunately in recent times the statue has been subject to vandalism and theft, The Queen's fingers have been snapped off and stolen over the years, at one time The Queen was in need of a whole new hand. In 2020 local sculptors were contracted to produce a brand new hand for the statue. I visited the statue last weekend and The Queen's hands/arms are all intact but her nose seems to be eroding away although she looks great for her age. Unfortunately the sceptre which The Queen was holding has disappeared. After a number of years of persistent vandalism Southend On Sea Council erected a wrought iron fence around the base of the monument which seems to be doing its job.

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