Detective work gives royal statue a new bronzed look

By on 24/06/2011 in Culture, News

Heritage experts have been putting the finishing touches to a two-year project that has returned a statue of King Edward VII to Birmingham city centre after an absence of almost 60 years.

Last November Birmingham sculptor Albert Toft's Grade II listed statue moved to a new home in Centenary Square - overlooking building work on the new Library of Birmingham.

Now replicas of bronzes, which adorned Toft's original but subsequently stolen in the 1980s, have been added to the impressive statue.

The bronze panels feature a male figure and child representing ‘Education’ and a female with a globe representing ‘Peace’. Specialists Cliveden Conservation recreated them from scratch using old photographs.

Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture, Cllr Martin Mullaney, said: “We worked with the Victorian Society, Birmingham Civic Society and a range of other stakeholders to return this superb piece of sculpture to the city centre.

“Now, following painstaking work from Cliveden Conservation, the bronzes have been recreated and we can put spectacular finishing touches to the project.

“Toft's statue of Kind Edward VII deserves to be seen and enjoyed by the maximum number of people and I'm particularly pleased that the move gained unanimous support from a whole host of organisations and individuals.”

Commissioned by the Birmingham Mail in 1910 to commemorate the death of the monarch, the statue was unveiled in Victoria Square in April 1913.

It was moved to Highgate Park when Victoria Square was remodelled in 1951 but repeatedly suffered at the hands of vandals.

That prompted the city centre switch and, following consultation with the Victorian Society, Birmingham Civic Society and a range of other stakeholders, a new location outside Baskerville House in Centenary Square was chosen. The site is particularly appropriate given that Toft produced the figures on the nearby Hall of Memory.

The statue was removed from Highgate Park in July 2009 for cleaning and repair and new bronzes cast to replace ones that were stolen in the 1980s.

The £114,000 renovation and relocation project was funded by the City Council, s106 planning gain contributions together with a £10,000 contribution from Targetfollow, the owners of Baskerville House.

ENDS

For more information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501

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