Victoria Square is a pedestrian square in Birmingham, England. It houses both the Town Hall and Council House, and is directly adjacent to Chamberlain Square.
The square is often considered the center of Birmingham and is the point from which local road sign distances are measured. It is a short walk from St. Philip’s Cathedral on Colmore Row and is on the main pedestrian route between the Bull Ring and Brindleyplace areas. Three main roads, Colmore Row, New Street and Paradise Street, and others, meet here.
The square was formerly known as Council House Square and was crossed by a tram. It was renamed on January 10, 1901, in honor of Queen Victoria. She died 12 days later. A marble statue, donated by Henry Barber and sculpted by Thomas Brock, was erected and unveiled; it was later recast in bronze.
Part of the square was once occupied by Christ Church (built 1805-13), but the church was demolished in 1899. The baptismal font, bell and foundation stone were moved to the new St. Agatha’s Church , in Sparkbrook, which was built with proceeds from the sale of the site to developers. The 600 bodies, including John Baskerville, housed in the catacombs below the church have been moved to Warstone Lane Cemetery. The site was later used for an office and retail building, the Christ Church Buildings, which were themselves demolished in 1970 and replaced with a grassed slope.
During the 1950s plans were drawn up to widen Colmore Row to form part of the Birmingham Inner Ring Road, with a major road junction to be built at Victoria Square. These plans were abandoned, but much of the Inner Ring Road plan was completed until construction.
At the end of the 20th century, the square was a busy crossroads. Plans have been made to pedestrianize the area and create a public focal point. An international design competition was held for a central water feature in the square, which was won by Dhruva Mistry. Construction began in 1992 and was completed in 1994, when it was officially opened by Diana Spencer. During the redevelopment of the square, Iron:Mana sculpture by Antony Gormley was installed and unveiled in 1993. A plaque is located on the southwest side of the square to commemorate the opening.
In June 2018, during work to extend the West Midlands Underground across the square, a cobbled street was uncovered, below the square’s surface.
Masterpieces[modifier | modifier le code]
Mistry fountain The River is the largest sculptural piece in the square. Due to recurring irreparable leaks, the fountain was closed in 2013 to save money. On July 6, 2015, the fountain was filled with plants and flowers and no longer functions as a fountain.
Additionally, there are other uncommissioned pieces for the 1992 redevelopment of the square. One of them is Antony Gormley’s Iron:Man which was donated to the city in March 1993 by the Trustee Savings Bank, whose headquarters were located adjacent to the square. It measures 6 meters in height and has been the subject of mixed reactions. It has been suggested that the statue be moved to the bank’s headquarters in Bristol when it merges with Lloyds.
There are also statues that existed before the redevelopment of the square. Of the two statues that originally stood in the square, only one remains. This is the statue of Queen Victoria, originally created in 1901 by Thomas Brock, but recast in bronze by William Bloye in 1951. The scepter capital had been missing for some years, but was replaced in 2011, with research and assistance from the Victorian Society. The plinth was replaced in Cornish Composite Marble in 1951.
Other statues no longer in the square include a King Edward VII Memorial, which was moved to Highgate Park when Victoria Square was remodeled in 1951. After restoration it was re-erected, on a new plinth, outside Baskerville House in Centenary Square, in November 2010. There were also statues of Robert Peel, which is now located at the Police Training Center Tally Ho in Edgbaston; and of Joseph Priestley, which now stands in Chamberlain Square. A statue of John Skirrow Wright, unveiled in 1883, was moved to Chamberlain Square in 1913, put into storage in 1951, and finally scrapped. A statue of George Dawson was later moved to nearby Edmund Street but is now in store at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s Museum Collections Centre.
Buildings[modifier | modifier le code]
The square is surrounded by many important buildings. On its west side is the Town Hall, on its north side is Council House, on its east side is 130 Colmore Row, and on its south side is Victoria Square House.
Every Christmas, Victoria Square forms the centerpiece of Frankfurt’s Christmas Market and Craft Fair which also extends into New Street and adjoins a craft fair in Chamberlain Square, with the city’s official Christmas tree offered each Christmas. year by Sandvik, also standing in the square. The market’s wooden shacks sell items such as jewelry, artwork, ornaments, clothing, and German food.
The Birmingham Big Screen currently stands in the square following its removal from Chamberlain Square, but for a time after assembly in September 2007 was not used due to a dispute over the planning process. After the dispute over the first planning application, which was approved by council, another was filed in December 2008. However, the consultation process bogged down following an overwhelming number of objections. The 8m widescreen dispute cost £1million. However, in April 2012 the screen was working.
On July 12, 2012, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited Victoria Square as part of the West Midland Diamond Jubilee Tour. At the Square they took a walk and received a gift from the City of Birmingham.
- Cannadine 2004, p. 123
- Grimley, Terry. A fine art gift to the cityBirmingham Post, 1 April 2006
- Bob Miles, « 14. THE CATACOMBS » [archive du ], The Birmingham Jewellery Quarter (consulted the )
- Stretcher 1998, p. 146
- Charlotte Paxton, « Ancient ‘medieval road’ unearthed in Birmingham city centre », birminghammail, (consulted the )
- Perfect and Power 1997, p. 174
- Stretcher 1998, p. 147–150
- (in) Neil Elkes, « Queen Victoria statue in Birmingham City Centre returned to former glory after 20 years », Birmingham Mail, (read online)
- Stretcher 1998, p. 229
- Paul Bradley, « AN enormous Christmas tree was formally handed over to the city this week as hundreds of people packed into Victoria Square for the switching on of its lights », (consulted the )
- « Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Fair »Birmingham City Council (consulted the )
- Paul Dale, « Birmingham big screen TV delay goes on », (consulted the )
- Neil Elkes, « Planning row keeps Birmingham’s £1m big screen blank and silent », (consulted the )