Queen Victoria was born on 24 May 1819. Her reign of 63 years and 216 days was longer than any of her predecessors.
Perceptions of Queen Victoria’s legacy change with each generation. At the time, she was held in great affection by large swathes of her subjects. From publicans to peers, those empowered to express their loyalty did so by naming places and things after her, or to mark milestones in her reign.
From pubs to parks, streets to statues, and even a phantom city, here are some of the historic places named after Queen Victoria.
Aside from the prominent Victoria Memorial near Buckingham Palace, statues were raised in towns up and down the country. There are at least 45 statues of Queen Victoria on the National Heritage List for England, but there are many more unlisted ones.
Streets ahead of a station
Victoria Station in London has many listed historic features, but it was actually named after Victoria Street, which in turn was named for the queen,
Around 218 miles north, Manchester’s Victoria station was named after the young queen in 1843.
Pubs and pavilions
Victoria may not have necessarily approved of all that went on inside them but scores of pubs were named after Victoria, 46 of which are listed.
Perhaps the most famous one is the fictional (but as of yet, unlisted) Queen Vic in ‘EastEnders’. Based on the former College Park Tavern in London’s Harlesden, it has survived several fires and witnessed a number of births, deaths, and dramatic exits.
Now a pub but originally an Edwardian concert hall and assembly rooms, the Royal Victoria Pavilion graces Ramsgate’s Harbour Parade. Amazingly, this listed example of seafront architecture was designed in just a week to be ready in time for the 1903 season.
Not everything ran so smoothly: Queen’s Park in Crewe, intended to be fully open for Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, had to be dedicated unfinished. This didn’t prevent a festive ‘Grand Procession’ and ceremony, combining the jubilee with the 50th anniversary of the railway arriving at this important junction. The event was a quintessentially Victorian coupling of patriotism and progress.
Eponymous parks were built throughout Victoria’s life: the Royal Victoria Park in Bath was named after (and opened by) an 11 year old princess, whilst Queen’s Park in Crewe opened nearly 60 years late.
Parks also highlight Victoria and Albert’s love of horticulture and concerns over conditions in England’s rapidly growing cities. Victoria Park in East London was opened in 1840 to provide a green space in an area that otherwise had dire living conditions. The park was initially funded by a Royal Grant and was intended to be ‘a memorial to the sovereign’.
The city that never was
Parks and statues are great, but what bigger memorial could there be than an entire city?
There are many places in the former British Empire or Commonwealth named after Victoria, but you may not have heard of Victoria, ‘the first capital of New Zealand’. And with good reason: it was never built.
James Busby, the first governor of the area, planned the township to surround his residence. Today, his former home stands alone in splendid isolation, overlooking the Bay of Islands.
Popular affection for Victoria reached new heights at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, prompting a surge in commemorative naming and monument building to mark the occasion.
How kind they are… No one ever has met with such an ovation as was given to meQueen Victoria’s response to her reception by the public on a Diamond Jubilee procession through London
The latter building is famed as the 18th-century ancestor of all modern skyscrapers. What you may not know is that, in 1897, a wooden hoist tower was topped by a beautiful cast-iron work crown symbolically marking the jubilee.