Victoria at 21Royal Victoria Place | 2013
This community artwork was commissioned to commemorate the 21st Birthday of Royal Victoria Place and its links with the town’s unique royal heritage. In keeping with the centre’s royal namesake, artist Helen Marshall was commissioned to create a giant portrait of Queen Victoria at the time of her 21st birthday. The artwork is composed of over 3,000 photographs taken in and around Tunbridge Wells and submitted online by the public, from the Royal Victoria Place archives and a whistle-stop tour of the town itself by Helen Marshall visiting well-known local businesses, organisations and schools including AXA PPP, Kent & Sussex Courier, BBC South East, BBC Radio Kent, Harold Brown & The Victorian B&B, Hotel Du Vin Staff, Oakley School and Hillview School for Girls – Tonbridge.
The historical portrait used for the final artwork was kindly lent by the National Portrait Gallery, London: Queen Victoria, reduced copy by W. Warman; after Thomas Sully, watercolour, (1838). © National Portrait Gallery, London.
‘VICTORIA AT 21’ is now on permanent public display at Royal Victoria Place and is located between Ernest Jones and BHS on level 2.
A Royal Heritage
Tunbridge Wells has always been proud of its royal heritage. And while not everyone chooses to add the ‘Royal’ suffix granted to the town back in 1909 by King Edward VII, the choice of name for West Kent’s largest shopping centre back in 1992 seemed to demand something a little bit regal to reflect the town’s royal history. Add to that Queen Victoria’s frequent childhood holidays in the town she described as ‘the dear place’, adding ‘I am so very fond of it’, and Royal Victoria Place was an obvious winner.
The name was just the beginning of Royal Victoria Place’s strong links with the town’s royal heritage. On 21st October 1992, Royal Victoria Place was officially opened by the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Over 5,000 shoppers packed the malls together with thousands of other visitors who flocked to visit Kent’s newest shopping centre and welcome ‘The People’s Princess’.
The commemorative plaque, which was unveiled by HRH The Princess of Wales during her visit in 1992, is now displayed pride of place on the upper mall opposite the brand new portrait ‘Victoria At 21’ to mark the 21st Birthday of Royal Victoria Place.
Crowned Winner at Purple Apple Awards
Royal Victoria Place in Tunbridge Wells has been successful in winning the top award at this year’s Revo (formerly BCSC) Purple Apple Marketing Awards. The gathering of the leading shopping centre marketers from all across the UK took place on Thursday 5th May in London with the glitzy ceremony hosted by TV and radio presenter Edith Bowman.
West Kent’s largest shopping centre, was awarded the overall winner in the ‘Cause-Related’ category for its ‘Victoria At 21’ Community Art Project. This was a fiercely contested category with nearly 30 shopping centres vying to be crowned the winner. This award recognises an innovative marketing activity created from a partnership between a centre and a not for profit organisation.
Revo (formerly BCSC) Purple Apple Award is the only annual awards programme which recognises and rewards effective shopping and town centre marketing within the UK retail sector. This year more than 150 entries were submitted across 6 categories.
Download Awards PDF
“Impeccable implementation and delivery of this campaign over a concerted period of time. The Royal Victoria Place team clearly put a considerable amount of thought into the planning of this community campaign in terms of the artist selection, customer engagement and grand reveal activity – which was all very well delivered.”Member of the Purple Apple Awards Judging Committee
“We are delighted and very proud to have been awarded a Purple Apple Award as this builds upon the success of our previous wins in 2013 and 2014. Victoria At 21 has enabled us to engage with our local community and create a legacy artwork which will be enjoyed by visitors to Royal Victoria Place for many years to come.
We would like to thank Helen Marshall for working so hard to achieve such an outstanding and innovative piece of artwork and also to all those who contributed to the project and helped make it a reality!”