Object Details

Prince Albert Memorial Clock Tower

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General Information
Object Parts
Object Condition

Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright for Photograph:

Creative Commons


Street:Robertson Street / Havelock Road
Council:Hastings Borough Council
County:East Sussex
Location on Google Map
Object setting:Road or Wayside
Access is:Public
Location note:Erected on the site of Priory Bridge that crossed the Priory Stream, at the junction of Robertson Street and Havelock Road.
In the AZ book:East Sussex
Grid reference:M7
The A-Z books used are A-Z East Sussex and A-Z West Sussex (Editions 1A 2005). Geographers' A-Z Map Company Ltd. Sevenoaks.

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Company/Group :Mr. Pattenden, Hastings
Name : Edwin Stirling
Name : Edward A. Heffer
Name : James Cowley
Company/Group :Hart & Sons, Hastings
     Role:Metal worker
Company/Group :Thwaites & Reed, Clerkenwell

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General Information

Commissioned by: Hastings Corporation
Commissioned also by: Public subscription
Construction period:10 November 1862 - 1864
Installation date:1864
Work is:Lost
Owner custodian:Hastings Borough Council
Object listing:Not listed
Description:‘The tower, in the perpendicular style, rises 65ft. to the vane. The entrance, the door of which is oak, is on the west side. On the east side a massive granite drinking-basin is fixed, and on the north and south sides panels for future inscriptions are left in the basement. In a niche above the gable on the south side is fixed a statue, of Portland stone, representing the good Prince in his robes as K.G, the head of the niche being filled in with tracery. Below the dials are traceried panels, with plain shields, on the north, east and west sides; but on the south side the panelling is filled by the arms and supports of his Royal Highness. Above the clock chamber is an octagonal turret, with pierced quatrefoils of alternate design, for the chimes; and a plain spire with ornamental terminal and gilded vane, with the letter “A” incised completes the whole. A lamp is placed upon a large block of York stone at each angle, and between these are four steps of the same material. The diameter at the base of the tower is 15 ft., and at the clock chamber 8 ft. The carvings represent respectively the rose, England; thistle, Scotland; shamrock, Ireland; dragon, Wales; and the capitals to octagon shafts the vine, Joy, &c. Above the doorway the following inscription is cut upon a ribbon and in the spandrels: - “Erected to Albert the Good, in the year of our Lord 1862”. In a panel above, the arms of Hastings are cut' (Illustrated London News', 2 January 1864) The two lamps from the monument stood at one time at the entrance to Hastings Museum and Art Gallery. They were composed of tapering cast iron stands, glass panels and wooden glazing bars. There was wrought iron filigree decoration below the lanterns.
Inscription:Immediately above the oaken entrance door was a stone ribbon bearing an inscription:
'Erected to Albert the Good, in the year of our Lord 1862'

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Categories:Sculptural, Roadside / Wayside, Functional, Commemorative, Architectural
Object type1:Building
     Object subtype1:Clock tower
Object type2:Statue
Object type3:Fountain
     Object subtype1:Drinking Fountain
Subject type1:Figurative
     Subject subtype1:Standing
Subject type2:Portrait
     Subject subtype1:Full-length

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Object Parts

Part 1:Statue of Albert
     Material:Portland stone
     Height (cm):184
     Width (cm):73
     Depth (cm):44
Part 2:Entire clock tower
     Material:York stone
     Height (cm):1981
Part 3:Clock dials
     Depth (cm):137
Part 4:Drinking fountain
     Material:Red granite

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Object Condition

Overall condition:Poor
Risk assessment:Immediate risk
Condition 1 of type:Surface
     Condition 1: Previous treatments staining
     Condition 2: Surface spalling, crumbling
     Condition 3: Abrasions, cracks, splits
     Condition 4: Corrosion, Deterioration
     More details:Prince Albert statue: severely eroded, few features left on the face. Looks to have been coated in cream paint at sometime and this is peeling off all over the statue. Fine detail of Garter robes has been lost although it is still easily identified.

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History:The memorial was erected at a cost of £860. Heffer was awarded the commission after a competition involving 37 competitors.

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, (Francis Augustus Charles Albert Emanuel, later HRH The Prince Consort) was born 26 August 1819 and died of typhoid on 14 December 1861. Queen Victoria wrote to the Mayor of London expressing her desire for a memorial and he subsequently wrote to all Boroughs in the country requesting contributions. Hastings Corporation considered the request at beginning of February 1862 and held a public meeting one week later. The public meeting was led by the then Mayor, Thomas Ross and supported by Lord Harry Vane and Frederick North, two local MPs. Lord Harry Vane persuaded the meeting that a local monument would be most appropriate.
At a meeting on 10 March 1862 it was decided that a clock tower would be the most popular memorial for the town. After a competition with a 10 guineas prize, Edward Heffer’s of Liverpool, a pupil of John Thomas, was selected as having the winning design. The statue of Prince Albert arrived from Liverpool on 3 July 1863.
The monument was erected on the site of Priory Bridge that crossed the Priory Stream.
The foundation stone was laid on 10 November 1862. It was the 21st birthday of the Prince of Wales, Prince Albert's son. The retiring Mayor of Hastings, Thomas Ross, performed the ceremony using a silver trowel. The large crowd gave three cheers for the Queen, three for the Prince – and one for the Mayor. On the beach nearby a 21 gun salute was fired by the 4th Cinque Ports Volunteer Artillery. In a cavity in the stone, a bottle was placed containing a parchment which read:
'Prince Consort Memorial. The foundation stone of this clock tower, erected in commemoration of the esteem and regard entertained by the inhabitants of this Borough towards his late Royal Highness, the Prince Consort, was laid by Thomas Ross esquire, Mayor of Hastings, on Monday the tenth day of November 1862'. There then followed the names of members of the fundraising committee, the contractors, architect, treasurer and secretary'.
By December 1863 work was complete apart for the clock and dials and the memorial was handed over to the corporation. The clock was made by Thwaites and Reed of Clerkenwell and was installed on 10 June 1864 by Mr. John Murray Jnr. of Castle Street, St. Leonards on Sea . The clock was illuminated by gas, and arranged to light automatically at 9pm each evening.
Usually for reasons of traffic congestion following continual development of the town, movement of the memorial was proposed several times post WWII. Redevelopment plans in 1952 even suggested demolition.
Arsonists set fire to the clock's woodwork in the early hours of Saturday April 28 1973 – the clock was damaged and the surrounding stone cracked. Then, on Monday June 18 1973 another smaller fire broke out. After the fire, it was said that serious faults were discovered in mid September 1973, and there was little opposition to the plans to demolish. At a Hastings Council meeting on October 11 1973, the decision was taken to demolish it as soon as possible. The demolition began on Sunday November 17 1973 and took two weeks. The demolishers broke the bottle with the parchment, didn't understand its importance and threw it away.
Albert's statue was bought for £50 by a local resident, a Miss Skelton, and stands in the Floral Hall / greenhouses in Alexandra Park.
Two lamps and columns stand outside HMAG. The Council has stored the drinking fountain bowl, the weather vane, some clock workings and a wooden door at HMAG.

See 'Illustrated London News', 2 January 1864 for image.

The statue of Albert stands under tarpaulin, facing west, in a greenhouse in the gardeners yards in Alexandra Park. (seen 31/07/2007)
Hard archive file:Yes

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Source 1 :
     Title:'The Albert Memorial: An Illustrated History'
     Author:Hastings Local History Group
     Edition:2nd revised
     Publisher:Hastings Local History Group

Source 2 :
     Title:'Parsons Illustrated Guide to Hastings, St. Leonards and Environs'
     Author:Parsons, F.J.
     Publisher:Hastings Observer Office. Hastings.

Source 3 :
     Title:Illustrated London News
     Publisher:The Illustrated London News. London.

Further information:

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Date: 30/07/2007
Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons

Date: 02/01/1864
Author: Illustrated London News
Copyright: Illustrated London News

Date: 30/07/2007
Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons

Date: 30/07/2007
Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons

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