23 Apr 2018

Queen Victoria statue to undergo conservation work

The iconic Birmingham statue of Queen Victoria is to undergo conservation cleaning to mark the Birmingham Civic Society’s centenary celebrations.
The statue, situated in Victoria Square, is cared for by Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council, and has stood in the city centre since 1901 when it was unveiled just 12 days before Queen Victoria’s death.

Originally created in marble by Thomas Brock, the statue was recast in bronze by William Bloye in 1951. The artwork now requires conservation work to clean and maintain the statue and its pedestal, so it can continue to stand in one of Birmingham’s most prominent locations for years to come. The work will not remove green patina which has formed on the statue over time.

Birmingham Museums’ Collections Care team have overseen the consultation and appointment of conservation specialist Ian Clark Restoration, who will undertake the work.

Barriers will be erected around the statue and the work will begin before the end of April 2018. It is expected to be completed during the week commencing 14th May. 

The conservation of the statue has been part-funded by the Birmingham Civic Society. In November 2017 The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a National Lottery grant of £55,700 towards the 'The City Beautiful' project to celebrate and commemorate the centenary of the Society. The work is just one of the projects being undertaken to celebrate 100 years of the Birmingham Civic Society. This project has also been supported by the Limoges Charitable Trust.

The Birmingham Civic Society has a proud record of achievement in preserving and celebrating the city’s heritage. In the 1920s and 30s it raised significant funds to purchase and donate substantial areas of land to the city’s public parks. Later on the Society was also instrumental in preserving a number of familiar Birmingham statues, most notably those of Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, Joseph Sturge and Joseph Priestley. It was thanks to the Society that Birmingham Cathedral’s world famous Burne-Jones windows were removed into safe storage at the outbreak of the Second World War. The cathedral was subsequently badly damaged by bombing during the Birmingham Blitz and so without the Civic Society’s intervention these superb works of art would have been lost for ever.

Collections Care experts from Birmingham Museum Trust, which oversees the care of part of the city’s collection of public art, will be involved throughout the process to ensure the statue is conserved safely while in situ.

Rob Lewis, Collections Care Manager at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “Public art links the city’s past to its present, and the Queen Victoria statue is an important Birmingham artwork that stands proudly in one of the busiest parts of the city. We are pleased to oversee the conservation plans as part of the Civic Society’s centenary celebrations so the statue can continue to play an important part in the city’s history.”