Queen Victoria statue
The bronze statue of Queen Victoria, situated in Victoria Square, was designed by Francis John Williamson and unveiled in 1903.
The concept for a statue commemorating not only Queen Victoria (1819-1901) but also the settlement of Canterbury, the province’s industries and soldiers fighting in the South African War was raised during the Canterbury Province jubilee celebrations of 1900 by Christchurch Mayor, William Reece. Although Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901, the foundation stone for the statue was unveiled on 22 June 1901 by the queen’s grandson, George V, then the Duke of Cornwall and York, during his tour of New Zealand.
The statue was designed by Francis John Williamson (1833-1920) and cast in bronze at the A.B. Burton foundry in Thames Ditton, England. It arrived in New Zealand in January 1903 and was unveiled on 24 May in the southwest corner of Victoria Square. The relief panels which were also carved by Williamson, commemorated the manufacture, education, agriculture, pastoralism of Canterbury, along with South African War soldiers. Although they were not ready at the time of the statue’s unveiling, they were later unveiled on 7 April 1904 by Lord Ranfurly, the Governor General.
The statue and its plinth were earthquake strengthened and relocated to the southeast corner of Victoria Square during the square’s redevelopment in 1989. This strengthening process allowed both the statue and the plinth to remain undamaged by the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes.