27th May 1848
Work started on the Victoria Tower
When Queen Victoria made an unannounced visit to Guernsey in 1846 (see 24 August), she was the first reigning monarch to step foot on the island. Naturally, it was something to commemorate, so William Colling was commissioned to design a red granite tower in her honour.
It was built on the site of a windmill, which had been positioned high above Town to take advantage of its elevation. The resulting tower is 200m above sea level, and stands 100m tall, offering commanding views across St Peter Port.
Guernsey’s governor laid the foundation stone on 27 May 1848, and a time capsule containing Guernsey coins was set into the base.
If the intention had been to attract a second visit from the monarch, it worked. She and Prince Albert returned to Guernsey in 1859 to inspect the finished tower, which had cost £2000 to build.
Had she come much earlier, she might not have been amused. The cost of the works was high for the times, and it was only through public donations that the workers were finally paid all they were owed and were convinced to make good the site. Until the mid-1850s it had remained full of construction detritus.
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