The Albert Memorial is a fitting tribute to a former Royal consort, while Tolworth Tower remains an uninspiring piece of suburban architecture


Opposite the Albert Hall in London sits a memorial to Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband. No statue in Trafalgar or Parliament Square for him. This is a stonking tribute to no ordinary husband; a completely over the top monument in the gothic revival style. But it works.

Designed by Sir Gilbert Scott and costing today’s equivalent of £10m, the Albert Memorial took over 10 years to complete. Its restoration in the nineties returned the memorial to its former glory, having been covered in black paint for 80 years, and now the gold leaf Prince can survey the activity at the Royal Albert Hall from his elegant position.

The original proposal back in 1862 for the memorial was an obelisk. Thank goodness it never happened. The missed opportunity of such a remarkable tribute to Victoria’s spouse would have been too much to bear.

More famous for David Bowie’s launch of his Ziggy Stardust tour at the Toby Jug pub opposite in 1972, the 81 m tall Tolworth Tower sits at the A3 and A240 junction. As a commuter, it’s a daily reminder of depressingly inappropriate architecture, within a depressingly suburban environment.

One of Richard Seifert’s many towers, some might argue it is an iconic landmark and locally it is certainly treated as such. To me it’s a missed opportunity to provide something truly iconic in such a prominent location. In its place we have just one of many sixties tower blocks, which rose with no elegance or beauty to blight sites that deserved so much more.

It seems unlikely that the Tolworth will join the list of fifties and sixties mistakes that are being elegantly refurbished, but there is always hope.


Alber Memorial

The Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, London, was commissioned by Queen Victoria as a tribute to her husband, Prince Albert, who died of typhoid in 1861. It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The canopy was completed in 1872 with the statue of Prince Albert added in 1875. The gilt bronze statue was restored in the 1990s after decades of being covered in black paint.


Tolwroth Tower

Tolworth Tower is at the centre of the main shopping centre in Tolworth, in the borough of Kingston upon Thames, south London. The 22-storey, mixed-use building mainly consists of retail units and offices. It was designed by Richard Seifert and opened in 1964.

Martin Winch is CEO of M&N Communications