On this day … 1 February 1873

The Lancashire Memorial Statue to the Rt. Hon. Edward Geoffrey, 14th Earl of Derby K.G. &c., &c.
The Lancashire Memorial Statue to the Rt. Hon. Edward Geoffrey, 14th Earl of Derby K.G. &c., &c. Unveiled in Miller Park, Preston. June 3rd 1873. Presented as a supplement to the Preston Herald of Saturday May 31st 1873. W. Brown, Lithographer. Source: Preston Digital Archive.

The Preston Guardian reported that the council was considering sites in Miller Park for a statue of the earl of Derby. And they had a very serious problem to surmount, what to do with the belvedere?

When Edward Milner was drawing up his plans for the park, one of the key features he planned was a belvedere sited so as to enjoy the splendid views across the Ribble. When the park was opened in 1867 the belvedere was in place.

But then in 1869 the 14th earl of Derby died and a suitable site in Lancashire was sought for a fitting memorial to the man who was three times prime minister and a former Preston MP. Preston was chosen and the Miller Park belvedere had to make way for the statue of the earl. The belvedere was taken down and shortly after re-erected to the east side of Avenham Park, where it now sits minus its splendid view south.

The supplanting of the belvedere by a statue honouring the man whose heirs inherited the largest and most valuable landed estate in the county testifies to the continuing influence of the county set of wealthy Tory landowners in Lancashire. One of the principal promoters of a memorial to the earl was one of those wealthy landowners, Robert Townley Parker of Cuerden, former Preston MP, guild mayor and leader of the Orange Order in the town.

Preston was a Tory town at this period, returning two Tory MPs to every parliament from 1865 to 1906. Townley Parker was determined that Preston would have the statue, fighting off a bid from Lancaster. And he wanted the belvedere’s site so that the earl’s statue would be visible from all the trains arriving at Preston. He got what he wanted, he’d claimed the space for the Tories.

Avenham Park Belvedere 1911
Avenham Park Belvedere 1911. Photo: Courtesy of Preston City Council.
The Belvedere was re-erected on the ground that was formerly occupied by the Avenham Incline engine house. The stone engine beds were reused to build the stone staircase that connects the two walks at Avenham Park that still exist today. Source: Preston Digital Archive.

See also:
A tale of two belvederes
Robert Townley Parker of Cuerden

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s