Erected around the turn of the 19th century to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 (some put the date of its erection at about 1897; others in about 1905), the clocktower replaced an obelisk that had previously stood in the centre of St George’s Circus in Southwark.
The rather ornate tower was designed by architect and engineer Jan F Groll and featured four oil lamps to help light the intersection, described as the first purpose-built traffic junction in England.
It survived until the late 1930s when it was demolished after being described as a nuisance to traffic.
Meanwhile, the Robert Mylne-designed obelisk had been first erected in 1771 and marked one mile from Palace Yard, one mile 40 feet from London Bridge and one mile, 350 feet from Fleet Street (Mylne, incidentally, was the architect of the original Blackfriars Bridge).
Following its removal, it was taken to Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park where it stood until 1998 when it was moved back to its position in St George’s Circus where it now stands. It was Grade II*-listed in 1950.
There’s a replica of the obelisk in Brookwood Cemetery – it marks the spot where bodies taken from the crypt of the Church of St George the Martyr, located in Borough High Street, in 1899 were reinterred to ease crowding.
PICTURE: Once the site of a clocktower, the obelisk has since been returned to St George’s Circus (Martin Addison/licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/image cropped)