The London Troops Monument
The Royal Exchange
It is estimated that around 900,000 men from London fought in the Great War, approximately 300,000 of who were killed or injured.
Standing outside the Royal Exchange in the heart of the financial district, the ‘London Memorial’ lists all of the regiments from the capital involved in the horrendous conflict and commemorates the countless Londoners who lost their lives.
The memorial’s Portland stone plinth was designed by the then President of the Royal Academy, Sir Aston Webb (who was also responsible for Admiralty Arch and the Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace), whilst the two figures standing either side were created by Alfred Drury.
The memorial is topped with a small lion, bearing a shield adorned with St George and the Dragon.
The memorial is Sir Aston Webb’s second design– his first idea was quite different, consisting of two 75 ft. tall flag poles at the base of which would have been statues of Victory and Peace.
Costing £7,000 (around £150,000 in today’s money), the monument was funded by public donations.
In order to make room for the memorial, a fountain topped by a statue of Temperance- which had been on the site since 1861 after being presented by the philanthropist, Samuel Gurney, required removal. It was relocated and can be seen today at the northern end of Blackfriars Bridge.
The London Troops Memorial was unveiled in foggy conditions on the afternoon of the 12th November 1920 by the Duke of York who was accompanied by the Lord Mayor and the Bishop of London.
The Duke of Connaught (the King’s Uncle) was also due to participate but had to bow out due to bronchitis. He sent a telegram which was read out at the ceremony;
“While deeply regretting that I cannot unveil the memorial to London’s splendid soldiers, my thoughts and feelings are with you at today’s interesting occasion and I hope the memorial will always recall the gallant services rendered by London’s sons…”