The Chinese community of the late 19th and early 20th century, considering themselves as "the Queen's Chinese", has a penchant for erecting memorials and monuments to show themselves as loyal subjects to the British Empire. This manifested itself in the form of the Queen Victoria Memorial Clocktower and the memorial statue at Victoria Green, which is also named to honor the British monarch.
As the name indicates, the Queen Victoria Memorial was built to remember the late British monarch who had passed away on 22 January, 1901. The idea to build a memorial came about on the first anniversary of her demise, when a public meeting was held to decide whether Penang should join Singapore in erecting a memorial, or should Penang build on of its own. One Dr Brown1 proposed that Penang built its own memorial, and the idea was seconded by one Mr Bryant, and that the memorial would be placed in a public park to be known thereafter as Victoria Park.
Originally Victoria Park was planned for a site to the east of Madras Lane, and bordered on either ends by Macalister Road and Burmah Road. It would cost $50,000 to prepare the site, an amount beyond the means of the local European community, which then tried to get a buy-in from the financially prosperous local Chinese community. When it appeared that the pledges made by members of the Chinese community far outstripped that of the European community, the Chinese community became inclined to carry out the project on their own, rather than take on the one proposed by the European community. The schism between the two communities widened when the Chinese community applied to have a pavilion of their own erected at the Esplanade, and it was rejection due to objection from A.R. Adams and A.K. Buttery of the European community.
Chinese community leaders then went their own way to purchase land which was to be held in trust for the future generations of the Chinese community. The land called the Victoria Green was purchased in 19032, but the statue of Queen Victoria was erected much later.
The Queen Victoria Memorial Statue was unveiled in 1930 by Sir Cecil Clementi, Governor of the Straits Settlements at that time. It was built to commemorate the queen, who had passed away three decades earlier. The life-style statue was made of solid bronze and stands atop a pedestal which was donated by Khoo Sian Ewe, JP, one of the Chinese community leaders.
During the Second World War, the statue of Queen Victoria was boarded up on four sides by a signboard for the Broadcasting Station of the Japanese occupying forces. The lions at the foot of memorial held shields with the Japanese emblems, in place of the Union Jack. A Japanese flag was also flown on top of the memorial. Queen Victoria's statue was entirely concealed from view.
The podium of the memorial was repainted in green in 2010.
The Queen Victoria Memorial Statue is located at the Victoria Green in the Chinese Recreation Club. Coming from the Weld Quay Ferry & Bus Terminal, you can take Rapid Penang Bus nos. 101, 103 and 104, alighting at Jalan Burma in front of the Victoria Green. From there, walk to the junction of Jalan Burma and Jalan Pangkor for the best view of the statue.
Queen Victoria Memorial Statue, after the repainting of the pedastal (28 May, 2010)
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