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Historic Birmingham statue to be unveiled by the Prince of Wales

The official unveiling by the Prince of Wales of a of newly restored statue of King Edward VII has been postponed until the New Year due to the poor weather. The Victorian Society had invited His Royal Highness to celebrate the statue returning to the city centre after an absence of almost 60 years.

The Society invited His Royal Highness after eight years of campaigning to have the statue reinstated in the heart of Birmingham. It is now hoped the royal visit to Centenary Square will take place during the first half of 2011.

The statue was paid for by the people of Birmingham in 1910 to commemorate the death of Edward VII. It was designed by the Birmingham-born sculptor, Albert Toft (1862-1949) and unveiled in Victoria Square in 1913. But in 1951 the imposing statue was removed from Victoria Square and placed in Highgate Park, where its condition deteriorated. In 1986 the bronzes adorning the plinth were stolen.

'I am delighted that the statue of King Edward VII has returned to the city centre, where many people will see it, rather than tucked away in a remote suburban park', said Stephen Hartland, Chairman of the Birmingham and West Midlands Group of the Victorian Society. 'It is an excellent example of Edwardian monumental sculpture and is a great credit to Birmingham's sculptural heritage.'

Conservation work on the sculpture has included reinstating the orb and sceptre and casting new bronzes to replace those stolen in the 1980s.

A fund-raising campaign organised by the Birmingham and West Midlands Group of the Victorian Society raised more than £11,000 in just a few months, this included a large negotiated donation from Targetfollow Plc, the owners of Baskerville House which now provides the backdrop for the statue.

The campaign was boosted by a generous donation from the Prince of Wales and a commitment from Birmingham City Council to use planning contributions (under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act) to fund the project.

The statue, which represents the King at his coronation in 1902, was first unveiled by King Edward VII's sister HRH Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll on 23rd April 1913.  All the children in the city were given the day off in celebration.

Wednesday 22 December, 2010

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