In 1897 the Mayor Bernard-Wiltshire Tolhurst donated a white stone stature of Queen Victoria to the Borough of Southend-on-Sea.
The statue to celebrate the monarchs Diamond Jubilee was placed on a small flat area outside the now demolished Grand Pier Hotel on the junction of Royal Terrace and Grove Terrace at the top of Pier Hill.
It was said that the statue was pointing out across the seas and the oceans to the distant lands of the British Empire, upon which the sun never sets, however locals would joke that she was pointing towards the gents toilets down on the sea front!
With a change in attitude towards Victorian style buildings in the 1950’s & 60’s, much of old Southend had been demolished, even the future of the statue was in question, people didn’t want it demolished but at the same time they didn’t want to keep it such a prominent location.
After much debate it was decided that the statue would be kept but a new home for it should be found where it was less “in your face”.
The quiet and sedate area of Clifftown Parade, between the Cliff Lift and Bandstand was chosen and in 1962 the delicate operation of lifting the statue onto a lorry and transporting it to her current position was undertaken.
On the 23rd August 1974 English Heritage placed the statue onto the national listed buildings register (English Heritage Building ID: 122895)
In 1989 the city of Victoria in British Colombia, Canada approached Southend Council with a request to buy the statue and ship it all the way to sit outside their own Provincial Government offices, the request was politely turned down!
An age old problem with the stone statue was the pointing hand, it kept being stolen so for a number of years the Queen was left handless.
In May 2007 fine art student Laura Keeble cast 14 plaster hands and placed them around the bottom of the statue, but for safety reasons could not replace the missing hand.
In October 2008 Southend Council contracted Southend based sculptors Bedini & Sons to carve a new hand to the Queen. The new hand was carved from white Carrara marble from Italy.
The move from Pier Hill to Clifftown Parade was the first and so far the only move for the now 115 year old three ton statue however in March 2011 a proposal was put forward to relocate the Queen from Clifftown Parade to the newly refurbished Victoria Gateway (Victoria Circus) it was rejected by the council.
With age taking its toll on the 120-year-old statue the council employed specialist cleaners in 2016 to undertake a cleaning of the Queen, this saw the statue undergo a superheated low pressure clean with water and a heavy duty detergent.
In the years since the had had been replaced it had once again had its finger broken off, a new hand was sculpted in 2017 and fitted in place.
Sadly once again in November 2017 the Queen once again lost her finger, the Queen was given her finger back.
Unbelievably in February 2018 the statue was once again vandalised with her whole hand being torn off.
Despite the vandalism, Her Royal Highness still sits tall and proud on top of the Cliffs pointing out to sea.