Gladstone’s Axe

gladstones axe

Really interesting programme about Gladstone aired on BBC Radio 4 this morning, but available to listen again online here – The Prime Ministers. By today’s standards, we might think he had some questionable views, but in context of the time wasn’t all bad.

Nick Robinson, BBC Political Editor explains how his axe and public displays of tree-felling helped him win the support of working people.

As part of the public realm improvements, the Townscape Heritage Project will fund the restoration of Gladstones statue, now located at the junction of Northgate, Blakey Moor and new Market Street.

From looking at old photos, we noticed that as well as a couple of missing fingers the statue also has lost something else. We thought this might be an umbrella or a walking stick and hoped to be able to replace it……..but perhaps an axe might be more appropriate!

Gladstone Statue - c1974 by Anne Holding

Gladstone by the Victoria Building still with his…….’umbrella’?

Also see, Who is Gladstone?


The Prime Ministers – William Gladstone, BBC Radio 4

Nick Robinson, the BBC Political Editor, continues his new series exploring how different prime ministers have used their power, responded to the great challenges of their time and made the job what it is today. The third of Nick’s portraits in power is William Gladstone, who was prime minister four times between 1868 and 1894, and led the government for more than twelve years in total. He is our oldest ever premier, having finally left Downing Street for the last time aged 84.

Gladstone’s influence endures today. Politicians who believe in low taxes and small government echo his belief in ‘retrenchment’. He also served as chancellor of the exchequer four times and made a lasting impact – his emphasis on strict financial discipline remains Treasury orthodoxy. Those who call for political change reflect his belief in reform. And those who advocate an ethical foreign policy and intervention abroad to uphold liberal values are following his emphasis on moral considerations.

Gladstone dominated nineteenth century politics. First elected as a Tory MP in 1832, Gladstone ended as a Liberal-radical prime minister. His personal rivalry with Disraeli sparked fierce parliamentary exchanges and remains the stuff of legend. He kept fit by long walks and enthusiastic tree-felling. Intensely religious, his mission to save prostitutes also brought him deep personal anguish.

Listen again here.

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