A long-neglected statue of Prince Albert has been installed outside Hastings Town Hall thanks to the work of local heritage enthusiasts.
The life-size statue was sculpted in Portland stone by the artist Edwin Stirling. It was installed at the site on Wednesday evening (September 27).
It was originally part of the Albert Memorial Clock Tower, which was the centrepiece of Hastings Town Centre between 1864 and 1973.
When the clock tower was demolished, the statue was saved from the scrap heap by Hastings resident Edith Skelton, who bought it from the demolition firm for £50.
While originally intending to ship the statue to Canada, Miss Skelton gave the statue a home at the ‘mini floral hall’ in Alexandra Park, where it remained until the attraction closed in the 1990s.
The statue was left neglected in the unused greenhouse for several decades, although many lobbied for the statue to be given a new home.
In 2010 Hastings Borough Council agreed that the statue should be remounted in public, but said a community group was needed to come forward to achieve this.
After several years of work, including a public consultation and a planning appeal, a group of local heritage enthusiasts were given the go-ahead to remount the statue alongside the Town Hall in 2015.
As a result, the Albert Statue Group was formed early in 2016 to raise funds for the project. Thanks to donors and supporters including Hastings Lions Club, the Hastings and St. Leonards Society, Hastings Local History Group, Roger Wilcock of A.C. Towner Ltd and late Ron Fellows – who bequeathed money to the project – the statue has now been installed in its new location.
An information board, giving a concise history of the statue, has also been installed. This has been funded by Kelly Stirling, who lives in California and is the great, great grand-daughter of the statue’s sculptor.
Ms Stirling has visited Hastings to view the statue in the past, and is expected to visit again to see the new installation in the near future.
The Albert Statue Group is endeavouring to raise funds for repair work to the statue. For information on how to donate email firstname.lastname@example.org.