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Earl Frederick Sleigh Roberts V.C

Earl Roberts of Kandahar - Photo by Leslie Scarborough taken on 01.01.1990

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On original site
Within a garden/park/churchyard/enclosure/Marketplace
Serviceman/woman sculpture
Bronze, Stone (any)
  • Colonial India
  • Indian Mutiny (1857-1858)
  • Boer War, Second (1899-1902)
  • Afghanistan (1800-1899)

About the memorial

Category ‘A’ Listed Monument to Earl Frederick Sleigh Roberts,V.C., of Khandahar, Pretoria and Waterford (1916) Kelvingrove Park Glasgow. A 3.5 m high Equestrian Bronze statue on 5.64m high granite pedestal - monument contains two major subsidiary figures ‘War’ and ‘Victory’ and narrative reliefs. This bronze equestrian statue shows Earl Roberts VC on his favourite Arab Charger ‘Volonel’. The statue is superimposed upon an elaborate granite pedestal and framing bronze bas reliefs featuring horse artillery and native cavalry, Highlanders, Ghurkhas and Sikhs. Two bronze allegorical seated figures of War in ancient armour (south-east facing) and Victory seated on the prow of the Ship of State (north-west facing) completes the composition. Roberts’ African and Eastern campaigns are enumerated on the south face of the pedestal, and his decorations illustrated with bronze replicas, including his VC won during the Indian Mutiny, 1858.

Perhaps the most famous statue in Kelvingrove is the stunning homage to Earl Frederick Sleigh Roberts V.C. (1832-1914). The Earl Robert’s Monument is a narrative piece of international standing, described in its day as ‘the finest equestrian statue of modern times’. Although executed by Henry Poole, this structure is an exact duplicate of Harry Bates’ equestrian masterpiece which stands proudly in the Maidan in Calcutta. Earl Roberts was the saviour of the British Empire, and its honour, on a number of occasions in the perpetual colonial wars fought throughout Queen Victoria’s reign. “Bobs” to his soldiers, the epitome of the dashing Victorian officer, Roberts was awarded a Victoria Cross during the Indian Mutiny whilst only 26 years old, and is thought to be the possible inspiration for George Macdonald Fraser’s heroic ‘Flashman’ novels.

A serving soldier for more than fifty years, Roberts rose through the ranks to become the head of the armed services and died during the Great War at the retreat from the Marne, aged 82. This statue to commemorate the iconic hero of the British Empire was built by public subscription from the grateful people of Glasgow and unveiled in 1916. A national hero by the time he took Glasgow by storm on his first visit to the city in 1903, Roberts had recently subdued the Boers in South Africa and had already become a legend with his epic retreat from Khabul to Khandahar during the Afghan War of 1878. Interestingly his son also was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery.

This masterpiece is complemented by Harry Bates’ triptych bronze Aeneid reliefs in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which can be seen in the context of other New Sculpture by George Frampton, Derwent Wood and others in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

Condition level: Good
Comments: The monument and its environs were restored by Glasgow City Council and the War Memorials Trust in late 2014. The conservator was Nicolas Boyes from NBSC in Edinburgh.
Condition level: Poor
Comments: Information gathered as part of a site visit undertaken by the Custodian and War Memorials Trust on 3rd October 2013. WMT and GCC are in discussions regarding repair and conservation work to the memorial.
Comments: The Lord Roberts statue in Kelvingrove Park was restored to its former glory in early 2015 as a joint project between Glasgow City Council and the War Memorials Trust. Sincere thanks to everyone involved.

The inscription and names field should show what exactly appears on the war memorial. This is designed to be an accurate record in case of theft or damage.

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