Statue of King Edward VII, Huddersfield Infirmary
The statue of King Edward VII was commissioned from sculptor Percy Bryant Baker (1881-1970) of Chelsea at a cost of around £1,000.
It had been hoped that the statue would be unveiled during the Royal visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Huddersfield on Thursday 11 July 1912, but Baker was unable to guarantee that it would be completed and installed in time. Therefore, although the Royals' route through the town included a drive past the Infirmary, the unveiling of a statue was not included on the official schedule for the day.
Newspaper reports suggest that the statue was delivered a matter of days before the visit, possibly after the Mayor of Huddersfield intervened. The Leeds Mercury reported that "the work of erecting [it] is being pushed forward as quickly as possible, in the hope that the statue will be visible to King George tomorrow". Wooden stands were also hastily built so that "about 250 persons, including those [Infirmary] patients who are able to be moved" might get "a good view of the Royal party" as it drove by. The Yorkshire Post" noted:
It had been hoped that King George might have unveiled the statue: but that was found to be impossible. The most that is expected now is that the King and Queen may halt at the Infirmary gates to view the statue.
On the day of the visit, it seems the Mayor, George Thomson, breached protocol — as he was being introduced the King, he "took his courage boldly in hand" and asked His Majesty if he would not mind unveiling the statue since it was now ready. According to the Leeds Mercury, the King was "a little surprised at the departure from the pre-arranged order of things" but consented.
The actual unveiling ceremony was kept as brief as possible and it remains uncertain if this was due to the King's displeasure or the need maintain a tight schedule.
As the Royal car pulled up at the gates of the Infirmary at 3:30pm, its President, James Sykes, stepped forward and presented the King with one end of a cord rope. Given the fact the statue was some distance away, it seems likely that when the King gave a tug on the rope, it was perhaps unveiled by someone stood nearer the plinth. Anne Pearson, a young girl who was a patient at the Infirmary, then presented Queen Mary with a bouquet of carnations and asparagus fern. Without any further ado, the car drove away. Newspaper reports make it clear that the King did not even leave the car and he seemingly made no speech whatsoever to mark the occasion.
Historic England Listing
- Grade II
- first listed 11 July 1985
- listing entry number 1233732
NEW NORTH ROAD (South Side) Highfield. Statue of King Edward VII outside the former Infirmary.Early C10. Sculptor: P Bryant Baker. Granite plinth with bronze plaques of Peace, Sympathy and Industry on 3 sides. Inscribed "Edward VII King and Emperor 1901-10" on 4th side. Life size bronze statue of King in Garter Regalia.
Notes and References
- Wikipedia: Bryant Baker
- Leeds Mercury (10/Jul/1912).
- Yorkshire Post" (10/Jul/1912).
- Leeds Mercury (12/July/1912).