On Tuesday 9th December 2014 Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society was very pleased to recognise the achievements and generosity of a founder member, the late Clement “Jim” Wain who died in 2011 aged 92 years, when we officially “unveiled” the newly refurbished Queen Victoria Statue in the Queen’s Gardens and presented the Jim Wain Photographic Collection to the Borough Museum.
Jim was a member of a prominent local family all of whom loved our town, actively promoted its prosperity and strove to maintain its unique character. Jim was a real character himself and is greatly missed by all who knew him. He really cared about the town and was a tenacious campaigner. When Jim died he bequeathed three wonderful gifts to the Society. Firstly our memories of his fighting spirit, good humour and constant vigilance in preserving all that is special about our town. Secondly his extensive and unique collection of photographs of Newcastle-under-Lyme and the surrounding area showing its evolution and its treasures and eyesores lost during redevelopments. Thirdly Jim left a cash legacy to the Society to help us to continue his good work.
Members of the Civic Society decided to use part of his legacy to fund the refurbishment of the town’s Queen Victoria Statue. This work was most ably carried out by Hall Conservation and W. Burt inscribed the stone plaque.
At the event on 9th December members of the Society were delighted to be joined by The Worshipful The Mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme Councillor Linda Hailstones, her Consort Councillor Peter Hailstones and their Sergeant together with L. Wallace (Conservation Officer), P. Stepien (Landscape Officer-Landscape Development), D. Adams (Director of Amenities) and R. Tait (Head of Operations) from the Borough Council and stone sculptor W. Burt. Jim Wain’s family was very well represented by his nephews Stephen and William, his sister-in-law Janet and other family members.
On this chilly afternoon The Society’s Press Officer, Jim Worgan, addressed the gathering beside the statue and the Worshipful The Mayor responded by expressing the Borough’s appreciation for the work carried out to enhance and preserve the Grade II Listed monument.
The party then proceeded to the Borough Museum for the official handover of the Jim Wain Photographic Collection and reception.
At the Museum our Chairman, Joan Howe, welcomed our guests and, as a selection of Jim’s pictures were projected onto the wall behind her, talked about Jim and the collection of photos he had amassed. She officially presented the collection to the Museum and introduced William Wain and Teresa Mason (Culture and Arts Manager) both of whom eloquently addressed the gathering. The Worshipful The Mayor was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a year’s complimentary membership of the Society.
Statue Background Information
The original marble statue by Charles Bell Birch A.R.A. is in Oodeypore, India. From this six bronze copies were made and these are now located in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Victoria Square in Adelaide, St Peter Port Guernsey, Aberdeen, Scarborough, The Royal Infirmary Derby and Blackfriars Bridge in London.
The Newcastle-under-Lyme statue was presented to the Borough by Sir Alfred Seale Haslam and unveiled in Nelson Place on 6th November 1903 by Grand Duke Michael of Russia. It remained in that prime location until the 1960s when the construction of the ring road caused it to be moved to Station Walks.
Station Walks is a pleasant but secluded public space and unfortunately the statue became neglected and was vandalised.
As the new millennium approached Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society launched a project to refurbish the statue and return it to a prominent town centre site close to its original location. With the approval and support of the Borough Council, the Society set about raising funds. The project cost in the region of £10,000 and was funded by the Civic Society and contributions from members of the public, the Borough Council and local businesses.
The statue now proudly stands in Queen’s Gardens at the bottom of the Ironmarket by Nelson Place.
In 2004 the Society commissioned a condition survey of the statue which showed that,following years of neglect and the effects of corrosion, work was required to refurbish the Grade II listed statue.
2014 – Conservation work and refurbishment completed by Hall Conservation and W. Burt (stone sculptor).