The Albert Memorial Clock (AMC) commemorates Queen Victoria’s late Prince Consort, Prince Albert, who died in 1861.
The decision of the leading citizens of Belfast to erect a monument to Albert was considerably quicker similar projects in other towns. For example, the AMC was erected two years before the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, London.
The reason for Belfast’s speed in putting the monument up may have been the grown civic confidence of the city and the town’s veneration for the Royal Family.
The design for the memorial was chosen by a competition and funded by public subscription. In all, 76 designs were submitted anonymously and evaluated by a subcommittee of the Memorial Clock General Committee overseeing the project. This subcommittee chose a design by Newry born architect J.M. Barre. However, the recommendation of the sub-committee was ignored and a design put forward by Sir Charles Lanyon was accepted. However, this caused considerable public dismay as Lanyon’s design was the runner up to Barre’s design and Lanyon sat on the General Committee that had rejected the sub-committee recommendation. The General Committee was forced to accept the sub-committee’s decision and Barre was given the commission.
The sandstone memorial was constructed between 1865 and 1869 by Fitzpatrick Brothers builders and marks the spot where Victoria and Albert arrived on their visit to Belfast in 1849.
The statue stands 113 feet tall in a mix of French and Italian Gothic styles. The base of the tower features flying buttresses with heraldic lions.
However, as a result of being built on wooden piles on marshy, reclaimed land around the River Farset, the top of the tower leans four feet off the perpendicular. The lean started to appear in the 1880s and gave rise to the expression that the tower “has the time and the inclination.”
To halt the worsening lean and repair damage caused by the elements and heavy passing traffic, a multimillion-pound restoration project was completed in 2002.
FOR MORE INFORMATION on guided walking tours around Belfast visit this page.