Building Name

Albert Memorial, Albert Square, Manchester

1863 - 1867
GMCA, England
New Build

THE MANCHESTER ALBERT MEMORIAL. meeting was held at the Town Hall on Thursday relative to the site for this memorial. Alderman Goadsby presided. A plan of the proposed site in Bancroft-street was on the table. is intended, with the help of the Corporation, to place the statue in the centre of an area, to be named Albert Square, and measuring 95 yards by 69 yards, said to two and a quarter times as large as St. Ann's Square. The statue would be visible from Cross-street, John Dalton-street, Mount-street, Clarence street, South-street, and Brazennose-street. It was stated on the part of the Corporation that an answer could not be given till the March meeting of the council.— The Chairman asked if this site would agreeable to the subscribers.—Mr. W. R, Callender was afraid that many persons would object to the proposed site, and would withdraw their subscriptions.—Mr. Ernest answered that £2,900 had been paid, and only £200 or £300 remained uncollected. There was no stipulation as to site attached to the subscriptions.—The Chairman said it was now this site or none.—The Rev. F. Smith strongly opposed any site in the city as unsuitable, and recommended Queen's Park. To select Bancroft-street would be like putting into the backwoods. The place was an uncultivated city wilderness at present. There ought to be some harmony between the site and the character of the person to be honoured. To place a statue of the Prince Consort in the midst of a bustling thoroughfare was utterly out of character with the repose of the Prince's mind and the sphere of his mental activities. Besides, it was doubtful if there would be room. There was no suitable site in the city, and it ought to be erected in one of the parks, the fittest by name and position being Queen's Park. In front of the house there was a wide level lawn exactly adapted for it, backed by fine trees which would give effect to the statue. Should her Majesty or the Prince of Wales visit Manchester, the road to Queen's Park would suit well for procession, and dangerous crowding the city would be obviated. He also thought that a lighter canopy would be desirable.—The Chairman said that the latter point was decided, the Queen having approved the proposed structure —Alderman Willert supported the Bancroft-street site, it being a great thoroughfare. For many years it had been in contemplation make large square there, which would also be very convenient for a new Town HalL — Alderman NlCHOLLS said this point was not settled, though no doubt the style of buildings erected would harmonise with the statue. —Mr. H. P. Ree moved that the Bancroft street site be approved, subject to the understanding that the corporation carry out the proposed plan of extending the area—Mr, A. Cassells seconded the motion, and it was adopted, six voting for and three against. —The Chairman said the question had been so long in suspense that it was very desirable to take action, and he thought the site selected would be generally acceptable to the subscribers. Bancroft-street was very central, and would no doubt, in time, become the best part of Manchester.—Mr Callender said the site was unsightly, and during the post office discussion it was regarded as being out of the town. — A letter was read from the architect, Mr. Thomas Worthington, stating that the working drawings were advanced state. —Some accounts were passed, and the meeting terminated. [Manchester Courier 14 February 1863 page 9]

THE ALBERT MEMORIAL —We last week drew attention to the fact that preparations have been made for commencing the beautiful structure intended as canopy for the statue of the late Prince Consort, designed by Mr. Thomas Worthington as a shrine for the marble figure of the good Prince, which Alderman Goadsby, the ex-mayor of this city, has promised to present to the city. Workmen are now engaged upon the foundation, at the site in Bancroft-street, and the preliminary work expected to be finished in two months, or less. A few months must then elapse for the foundation to settle, before the superstructure is raised. The character of this latter work, and the expedition or delay in its erection will depend materially upon the liberality of the public. The Memorial Committee informs us that at present not one half the needful funds has been contributed, so that it is evident the architect will hampered in pushing forward the complete design, unless the rest of the required money is speedily subscribed. It is true that trade is not brisk, but we would ask our men of means to do what they can, and united effort would prevent that failure of the scheme, or that partial success which would a disgrace to the city. Manchester does not possess single beautiful statue, only bronze abortions that need scouring every six months to keep them decent; and now that there is a chance of raising a memorial worthy alike of the departed great one and the city he honoured and served, there is an amount of apathy and close-fistedness that imperils the scheme, and gives a ground for the reproach that Manchester cares for nothing but cotton. It is too late to urge objections to the plan or the site; these matters are settled, and those who don't like the one or the other, or neither, would do well to make a virtue of necessity, and share in what merit may attach the undertaking. [Manchester Courier 4 July 1863 page 6]

THE MANCHESTER ALBERT MEMORIAL —A report on the progress of the Manchester memorial, now being erected in Albert-square, has been published. The total sum received and promised up to the present time amounts to £3,711, of which £1,569 has been already expended. Upwards of £500 beyond the balance in hand will be required to meet Messrs. contract and other liabilities already incurred.—Mr. Thomas Worthington, the architect, says : The foundations, which were commenced in the summer of 1863, were completed up to the level of the street during the autumn of the same year This part of the work became more costly than had been anticipated, in consequence of the ground being intersected to depth upwards seventeen feet' with old drains, which rendered it necessary to excavate to the rock, on which the structure has been built. The granite steps were executed the following spring. The expenditure up to the present date, inclusive of excavation, brickwork, granite stop*, together with sundry miscellaneous expenses, amounts, as I informed, to about £1.569; the contract now in course of execution by Messrs Patteson and Sons amounts to £2,639; total, £4,208. To this sum allowance must be made for the sundry expenses which will arise during the progress the works. It is, however, most important that the committee should fully realize that the memorial will still a very unfinished and incomplete state when the present contract has been fully carried into execution, and that the expense the decorative part of the work which has to follow cannot estimated a loss sum than from £2,500 to £3,000, whilst double that amount might be advantageously spent more fully developing the ornamental details of the design. It will be observed that blocks of stone are built in preparatory to carving, and that many of the mouldings are unworked, the stone being left projecting in the rough for foliage and carved decoration; and in addition to enrichments of this character there will be the small sculptured statuettes and terminal figures, and the ornamental metal work and grille the structure. The whole of these works are really essential parts of the design, without them the memorial would remain in an unfinished and unsatisfactory condition. A meeting is to held on Monday to initiate measures to secure the early completion of the work. . [Supplement to Manchester Courier 1 July 1865 page 9]

THE MANCHESTER MEMORIAL TO THE LATE PRINCE CONSORT - The committee for the erection of this memorial have at length determined upon the architectural design of the covering for the statue by Mr. Noble, which is to be presented by Mr Goadsby, the mayor, to his fellow citizens. The erection may be described as a square canopy of white stone, open at the four sides, the openings spanned by lofty pointed arches, each surmounted by a high-pitched gablet, above which a tall spiret roof will rise to a total height of 75 feet. At each of the four angles will be square buttresses and pinnacles of rich and elaborate design. The style is of that period of mediaeval architecture which prevailed at Florence and Tuscany between the ages of Brunelleschi and Giotto. The basement of the canopy will be divided into two stages, the upper of which will be fitted with a series of panels, five on each side, enriched with armorial bearings. Each buttress will contain a shield emblazoned with the arms of the late Prince, surmounted by coronets. On the inner edge of the arches there will be an effective cusping. The sloping edges of the archway will be enriched with clustered spiral columns of Purbeck marble. On the tops of the columns and piers will be enriched capitals of elaborately-carved foliage; and from these will spring the spiral moulding of the arches, which is to be of the same character as that of the pillars below. Upon each of the piers (or buttresses) will stand a pinnacle divided into two stages, the lower stage to be decorated with spiral marble columns, terminated with gargoyles, and the upper stage of the pinnacle to be an open canopy, supported on similar spiral columns, and the upper portion greatly enriched with tracery, foliated finials, and crocketting. Each of the four pinnacle canopies will contain a statuette, of which the subject is not yet decided. Each gablet will be terminated by a figure of an angel blowing a trumpet. The gablets are to be enriched with arabesques in basso relieve; and the centre is to be pierced with a circular opening filled with light tracery and two intersecting equilateral triangles. The spiret roof is to be octagonal, and terminated with a metal coronet. There is to be a grille around the basement, divided into compartments filled with quatrefoils. The building will stand elevated above the pavement on five steps, each about twelve inches high. The outside of the greatest projection of the steps is to be thirty-five feet, that of the actual building nineteen feet; the height of the basement 13 feet 6 inches; the height of the pedestal of the statue of the Prince 21 feet from the pavement; and the total height from the pavement to the top of the metal termination of the spiret roof, 75 feet. The design, of which the above details are given, is by Mr. Thomas Worthington, architect, of Manchester. The site chosen is in front of the Infirmary, between the two fountains. The cost is estimated at from £4,000 to £5,000. The statue, which this erection is to cover, will be of Sicilian marble, 8 feet 2 or 3 inches high, and will represent the Prince in the robes of the garter, with a copy of the rules of the order in his hand. At a meeting of the committee, held at Manchester yesterday, the Mayor, who presided, stated that some ten or twelve days ago Mr. Noble, by command of the Queen, submitted to her Majesty the design for the proposed erection. Her Majesty spent some time in examining the details, and expressed very great satisfaction with the design, saying furthermore that she thought nothing of the kind more beautiful or more appropriate could be suggested. Her Majesty was also gratified to learn that the design was by a gentleman (Mr. Worthington) to whom the Prince Consort had presented the Iris medal for architectural design. [Leeds Mercury 18 September 1862 page 3]

THE ALBERT MEMORIAL – An incident of the royal procession on Wednesday escaped the observation of our reporter. At the memorial in Albert Square, Mr T Worthington, the architect of the memorial, was presented by General Knollys to the Prince of Wales, who expressed his admiration of the work. Mr W R Wood handed to the Earl of Sefton from Mr Worthington, for presentation to the Princess of Wales, a photograph of the memorial, which Her Royal Highness very graciously received. Mr Worthington accompanied the royal party round the memorial, whence the carriage drove to the Town Hall. [Manchester Guardian 23 July 1869 page 3]

STATUE OF THE LATE PRINCE CONSORT AT MANCHESTER - THE inauguration of the statue of the late Prince Consort, erected in the centre of Albert-square, Manchester, took place on Wednesday. A committee was appointed to undertake the work in January, 1862, and the offer of the then mayor (Mr Goadsby) to present a marble statue, on condition of the city affording a suitable site and finding money for a pedestal and covering, was accepted. The statue, which is by Mr Noble, of London, and is of Sicilian marble 9 feet high, representing the Prince in the robes of the Order of the Garter, has been completed some time. The memorial building in which the statue is placed, and (he rich Gothic canopy over it, were designed by Mr Worthington, of Manchester. The report presented to the committee describes the work as follows: —The memorial building is raised 5ft. above the surface of the street, on granite steps, occupying a square of 35 ft. The base of the structure is 20ft. square, and 15ft. 6inches to the platform on which the pedestal, which is 6ft., stands. The entire height from the pavement to the summit of the vane is 50 feet. Four open arches above the basement support a grand canopy, forming a shrine, in the centre of which, on a pedestal of coloured polished granite, stands the statue. The four arches are surmounted bv lofty gables, and the external angles are abutted by four square piers or buttresses rising in solid masonry to the level of the springing of the great arches, shortly above which level they disengage themselves, and rise up as detached and elaborately enriched pinnacles; these pinnacles illustrate subjects in which the late Prince Consort took active and practical interest. Each pinnacle has two stages above the springing of the arches, the upper stage being an open canopy supported on polished granite shafts; these four canopies contain figures of Art, Science, Agriculture, and Commerce. Art is supported by Music, Sculpture, Painting, and Architecture; Science, by Astronomy, Mechanics, Chemistry, and Geometry; Agriculture, by Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter ; and Commerce, by Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. The four great gables contain a circular open panel enriched, and in the three triangular spandrels are medallions containing twelve heads, representative of Art and Science—Michael Angelo, Wren, Inigo Jones, Raphael, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Goethe, Schiller, Milton, Shakspeare, Tasso, and Dante. On the summits of the four gables are winged angels, holding gilt trumpets ; the spire is banded with polished gray granite, and the shafts of the main archways are of the same material. The pedestal supporting the statue consists of a deep red granite-centred block, with angle shafts of gray granite, bearing the simple inscription "Albert" on the south side. On the centre of the piers or buttresses are shields carved in stone representing the arms of England quartered with those of Saxony differenced with the late Prince Consort's own label of three points argent, charged in the central point gules, alternated with the simple arms of Saxony emblazoned with foliated bands and arched coronet on a field barry of ten, or and sable. Each shield is surmounted by the peculiar coronet of the late Prince, which differs from the Imperial Crown in having eight instead of four arches, rising from strawberry loaves and curved. Each shield is encircled by the garter, with the usual motto, and below on a label is the motto, " Treu und fet." These armorials are repeated in the eight angle panels of the basement, and on the intertuediato panels (of which there are five) are carved the various crests of the Prince. The memorial is enclosed by a rich and elaborate wrought iron railing or grille, by Skidmore and Co., of Coventry. The angles are encircled by gilt foliated finials, and shields engraved with the arms are placed at intervals along the cornice of the railings, a central one bearing the full quartered arms emblazoned in colours. The emblematical figures were executed with excellent taste and finish by Messrs T. R. and E. Williams, of Manchester and Liverpool. The memorial bears the following inscription round the base:—"In grateful acknowledgment of public and private virtues, Albert, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Consort of her Majesty Queen Victoria, erected by the inhabitants of Manchester, ad. I860. The statue was presented to his fellow-citizens by Thomas Goadsby, Mayor of Manchester, 1861-2." The total cost of the memorial, exclusive of the statue, has been £0,249 15s. 4d. The ceremony of inauguration was exceedingly brief and simple. The committee met at the Town-hall at one o'clock, when Mrs Goadsby, widow of the late mayor, read a few lines formally presenting the statue on behalf of her late husband to the Mayor and corporation. The committee and other gentlemen then went in procession to a temporary building fronting the southern face of the statue, and Dr Fairbairn, CE, read an address of inauguration. The statue was then unveiled in the presence of a concourse of many thousand people, who cheered lustily.

Mr Worthington's Albert Memorial is unquestionably the finest of the (completed works of the kind; and in its details it is worked out with marvellous richness, refinement, and delicacy. Unfortunately, there is too much of this last quality; and, for so small a shrine, they have a finicking air. The general form of the shrine or pyramidal canopy is not pleasing; and why the upper part should be so plain does not appear. The carved figures in the already diminutive niches are even too dwarfish for their receptacles, and should, we think, stand further forward; all of which is very unfortunate in a work of otherwise great merit. The marble statue of the Prince is, like nearly all the statues in the City, excellent; but we were surprised to see it placed with its face towards the intended front of the Town‑hall. Perhaps the Corporation had in their head the poet's (Swift ?) jocular lines on the statue of Queen Anne, turning her back to the West front of St Paul's Cathedral, and bestowing her attention to the (then) spirit‑shop over the way. Surely this statue in Manchester ought to have been placed with its back to the Town Hall. [Building News 21 January 1870 page42]