The statue, in the vestibule, was presented to the Corporation on 4th September 1858 two days before Queen Victoria was due to open the Town Hall. It had been commissioned by the Mayor Peter Fairbairn, and had cost him 1000 guineas. The sculptor was Matthew Noble. The statue is 8ft 6inches high, and made of a block of Carrara marble, 'of the very finest quality, spotless and pure.' The inscription on the base reads 'Queen Victoria 1858'. At the time of the opening the statue stood in the centre of the vestibule, and would have been seen by the Queen as she entered the building.
The statue of Prince Albert, stands opposite to that of Queen Victoria. When Prince Albert died in 1861, it was suggested that there should be a memorial to him. It was decided at a public meeting in January 1862 to erect a statue of the late Prince Consort alongside that of the Queen in the Town Hall. Permission was sought from the Queen to move her statue to one side. The Palace replied that 'no arrangement would be more gratifying to the Queen'. The statue is by Matthew Noble, and the inscription on the base reads 'Albert, Prince Consort'
Edward Prince of Wales and Alexandra, Princess of Wales.
These two busts were presented to the Corporation by Alderman Kitson. They are made of white marble, and the sculptor was Matthew Noble. They were placed in the vestibule of the Town Hall on 14th May 1872. The Prince of Wales had visited Leeds for the opening of the new infirmary in May 1868.
Edward Baines became the proprietor of the Leeds Mercury in 1801, and was active in local politics, and played an important role in the formation of the Mechanics Institutes. He was elected Member of Parliament for Leeds in 1834, and represented Leeds until 1841. After his death in 1848, money was raised by public subscription to erect a statue in his honour. In a competition for the commission, the sculptor William Behnes beat both Matthew Noble and Thomas Milnes. The statue is 8 feet in height, and is made of Carrara marble. The inscription reads:
'To commemorate the public services and private virtues of Edward Baines, who faithfully, ably, and zealously represented the borough of Leeds in three successive Parliaments. As a man, a citizen, and a patriot, he was distinguished by his integrity and perseverance, his benevolence and public spirit, his independence and consistency. This monument is erected by voluntary subscription, that posterity may know and estimate a character loved and honoured by his comtemporaries. Born 5th February 1774. Died 3rd August 1848.'
The statue was originally placed in the Victoria Hall, but was later moved to the rear vestibule of the Town Hall.
Robert Hall was a lawyer, and in 1842 was appointed Deputy Recorder of Leeds and in 1845 Recorder of Doncaster. He took a particular interest in social conditions and supported Richard Oastler and Michael Sadler in their campaign to reduce the number of hours worked by children in factories. He was also concerned with the treatment of juvenile criminals. He was active in Church affairs, and started a Sunday School at Richmond Road, Bank, in Leeds. He was a supporter of the Reformation Bill, and was elected as Member of Parliament for Leeds in 1857, but died 3 months later. Money was raised by public subscription for a statue in his memory. The sculptor was a local man, Dennis Lee.
The lions on either side of were an addition to the original design. The first two lions were unveiled on 15th February 1867, the others on 7th June. The sculptor was William Day Keyworth Jnr, and the cost of the lions was £550. Each one is made from two pieces of Portland stone with zig zag joints.
The Archway above the main entrance
The central figure of a woman represents Leeds, and holds a wreath and a distaff. Behind her is a judicial chair, ornamented with rays of light, and flanked by owls, emblems of wisdom, as well as being part of the arms of Leeds. The other figures are from left to right:
Industry, seated on a bale of goods, and resting her arms on an anvil. In her hands are samples of cloth.
Poetry and Music, with a lyre and pipe; in the background are a Faun's head and wreath of flowers.
Fine Arts, holding emblems of painting, and leaning upon a Corinthian capital at the feet of which is a bust of Minerva.
Science, holding a compass in one hand and a globe in the other, and at her feet various bits of machinery.
Round the edge of the sculpture are panels carved with various devices from the arms of Leeds with the centre panel showing the scales of justice.
On each side of the doorway is a panel showing a child holding a fleece, with underneath the emblems of Power and Justice. At the top of each panel is the staff of Mercury, symbolic of Order, Peace and Prosperity.
Inscriptions in the Victoria Hall
On the frieze at the north end:
Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.
On the frieze at the south end:
Except the Lord keepeth the city, the watchman waketh but in vain
Round the Walls:
In union is strength
Honesty the best policy
Auspicium Melioris Aevi (an omen of a better age)
Trial by jury
Labour omnia vincit (Labour conquers all things)
Goodwill towards men
Magna Charta (The great charter of English personal and political liberty obtained from King John in 1215.)
Deo, Regi, Patriae (God, King and Country)
Industry overcomes all things
God in the highest
Weave truth with trust
Virtue the only nobility
There are five plaques on the walls of the corridors:
To commemorate the opening of the Town Hall in 1858.
To commemorate the granting of City status to Leeds in 1893.
To commemorate those who fought in the Spanish War, 1936-1939.
To commemorate Joseph Aspdin, the inventor of Portland cement in 1824.
The Leeds Roll of Honour for the South African War, 1899-1902.
The inscription on the soundbow of the bell reads:
This bell weighing 4ton 1cwt 0qrs 1lbs was cast by John Warner and sons for the Town Hall of Leeds in the year of our Lord 1859. Cuthbert Brodrick Architect.
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Prince of Wales
Princess of Wales
Archway over main entrance
General view of the Victoria Hall