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Neglected Queen Victoria statue in Darnley Road, Gravesend, to stay in shoddy state

Heritage lovers are not amused as a dilapidated royal statue is ignored by council bosses.

Kent County Council [KCC] is under fire after refusing to fully restore an important heritage monument in Gravesend.

The statue of Queen Victoria in Darnley Road, has been in the town for more than 100 years having been presented in 1897 by mayor George Arnold.

The statue is in a sorry state, with graffiti covering the front, over the Queen’s dress and on the plinth.

One of her hands has been missing for decades while in contrast, the stolen feather on top of Princess Pocahontas outside St George’s Church was quickly replaced at a cost of £1,000.

Victoria is under the care and attention of KCC and when the Messenger approached the council to see if it would carry out repairs it replied that while work would take place to remove graffiti - the hand would not be replaced.

A KCC spokesman said: “The hand has been missing for at least 30 years and there is no plan to effect any repairs now. I think we can discount the health and safety issue as there is no indication that any other limbs are in danger of falling off.

“I have reported the graffiti to Gravesham Council street care and cleaning team, and it will hopefully be included in their next clean-up in that area.”

The Victoria statue is a listed monument and has been standing in the town for more than a century.

Historian James Elford explained that this indifference to an important Gravesend landmark showed the town in a negative light.

He said: “It doesn’t look good on the council. It’s [the state of the statue] is an indictment on our town - Victoria was a very important monarch.”

The statue is a grade II listed structure and was presented as part of the Queen’s jubilee celebrations. There is an identical statue in the charted market, which, unlike its counterpart in Darnley Road, is in top condition.

However, this monument comes under the jurisdiction of Gravesham council not KCC.

Mr Elford has a wide knowledge of heritage of Gravesham and finds it strange that while Gravesham council are happy to plough money into the restoration of the Pocahontas statue they will not step-in to restore the victoria statue.

While its twin in Gravesend's chartered market is in pristine condition, the Darnley Road monument continues to be in a shoddy state.

It shelled out hundreds to replace a feather from the monument’s headdress after it was stolen, for the third time, in December last year.

He said: “How does one count for more than the other? It should be up to the council keep this in good condition. Our council tax ensures that.”

A Gravesham council spokesman explained that while they will not be involved in restoring the Darnley Road monument, the market statue will be funded in the future.

He said: “Gravesham council is in the process of applying for Heritage Lottery Funding for the complete restoration of the market statue as part of plans to improve the market itself. The outcome of the bid will not be known for a few months.

Do you think KCC should repair the statue? Send your thoughts to gravesendmessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk or 7 High Street, Gravesend, Kent DA11 0BQ

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