Architectural sculpture on one of the pediments over the eastern entrance to Victoria Station. Henry Charles Fehr (1867-1940). c.1910. Portland stone. The frontage of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway Station, as it then was, was the departure point for the Continent via boat-train from Chatham. Naturally Fehr adopted motifs associated with the sea. Each of the two pediments sports a pair of mermaid caryatids, with a wreath sited between them and a cartouche in the middle above them. Each mermaid has a boat under her protection, its prow and funnel peeping out from under one arm. She also holds one end of a swag of seashells. Nautical forms can be seen on either side of the cartouche as well — tridents and what look like the tips of anchors. The station frontage as a whole may be Edwardian Baroque, but the mermaids, with their flowing hair, sinuously coiling and scaly fish-tails, supple arms, and absorbed expressions, are more Art Nouveau in feel. [Click on this and the following images to enlarge them.]
Left:. Like pieces of architectural sculpture elsewhere, the mermaids here are protected by netting and anti-pigeon spikes, but pollution has left its ugly mark, especially on the mermaid's right arm. There is some erosion, too. Middle: . Both spikes and netting are very much in evidence here, but there is still something alluring about the mermaid's languid, abandoned pose. Right: This one is clearly seen to be holding one end of the swag in her other hand. Her ship has a different funnel from the other one's, and she is in generally better condition.
. Note the mermaids' hands resting on it at each corner.
- Victoria Station, the whole façade
Photographs, caption and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. ]
Last modified 7 November 2016