Footsteps Through Time




The following text is adapted from 'Footsteps Through Time - A History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls', researched and written by Peter Roberts and published in 2017. The book is available to order online through Amazon and specialist book suppliers.



The Livingstone Memorial Statue


The famous bronze statue of David Livingstone, sculpted by Scottish artist William Reid-Dick, RA (later Sir), was unveiled overlooking the western view on the south bank of the Victoria Falls on 5th August 1934 by Mr Howard Unwin Moffat, CMG, ex-Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia (1927-33), and nephew of David Livingstone’s wife, Mary Moffat.

"Mr W R Reid Dick, the famous Scottish sculptor, who had been nominated by Sir Herbert Baker and Sir David Cameron, paid a visit to the Victoria Falls in order that he might view the selected site overlooking the Devil's Cataract and gain inspiration for his important assignment. It says much for Mr Reid Dick's thoroughness that he travelled 15,000 miles for this purpose alone, before making any attempt to execute his commission; but on his return to London he immediately set to work to make rough models, which he submitted to the Federated Caledonian Society for approval." (RR Bulletin 206 Sept 1949 p3 The Story of the Livingstone Memorial)

The famous bronze statue of David Livingstone, sculpted by Scottish artist William Reid-Dick, RA (later Sir), was unveiled overlooking the western view on the south bank of the Victoria Falls on 5th August 1934 by Mr Howard Unwin Moffat, CMG, ex-Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia (1927-33), and nephew of David Livingstone’s wife, Mary Moffat.

"Mr W R Reid Dick, the famous Scottish sculptor, who had been nominated by Sir Herbert Baker and Sir David Cameron, paid a visit to the Victoria Falls in order that he might view the selected site overlooking the Devil's Cataract and gain inspiration for his important assignment. It says much for Mr Reid Dick's thoroughness that he travelled 15,000 miles for this purpose alone, before making any attempt to execute his commission; but on his return to London he immediately set to work to make rough models, which he submitted to the Federated Caledonian Society for approval." (RR Bulletin 206 Sept 1949 p3 The Story of the Livingstone Memorial)

Mr Reid-Dick was instructed in detail by the committee:

"One thing is certain - we want a real work of art. Nothing 'finniky' ... every line showing strength, indomitable courage and spirituality, and ever the eternal quest for something just beyond. It must enshrine the spirit of the eternal pioneer... The whole to rise out of the earth on rough boulders or unfinished stone so characteristic of the place, and harmonise with the wonderful setting." (Wardleworth, 2013)

The Livingstone Memorial Statue

William Reid Dick works on the plaster model for the statue

The statue, overlooking the Western View of the falls, was erected with a $50,000 fund raised by the Livingstone Memorial Committee of the Federated Caledonian Societies of South Africa.

" ...the Directors of the Department of Lands, Salisbury, had suggested that 'an appropriate site (for the monument) would be one within view and sound of the Victoria Falls.' A later proposal that the statue should be erected on the north bank of the Zambezi was examined and rejected." (RR Bulletin 206 Sept 1949 p3 The Story of the Livingstone Memorial)

The bronze statue, ten-and-a-half feet (3.2 m) high stands on a 37-ton rough hewn solid granite base, at the time claimed to be the largest block of stone quarried in southern Africa.

"The statue was shipped free of charge by the Union-Castle Steamship Company, and the Rhodesia Railways shared with the British South Africa Company the cost of transporting it from Beira to the Falls, where a temporary siding about a mile long was built up to the site of the memorial.

"The granite pedestal for the statue was quarried at Bon Accord, near Pretoria. Before being dressed into its final shape it weighed approximately 50 tons and is believed to be the largest single piece of rock ever quarried in South Africa. The weight is now 37 tons and its transportation to the North made railway history, as a single item of freight of this nature and weight had not previously been carried over the South African or the Rhodesia Railways...

"It took the contractors for the erection of the memorial two days to move the pedestal off the truck into position with crowbars, jacks and rollers, after which the hoisting of the statue into position on it was a comparatively easy affair." (1934 07 RRB 90 livingstone statue p12-13)

The unveiling ceremony, in the presence of over 1,200 people, and speeches were broadcast by radio across the British Empire, although not very clearly at times, against the background roar of the Falls.

The Livingstone Memorial Statue

Unveiling of the David Livingstone Memorial Statue

News reports of the unveiling of the statue recorded Livingstone’s initials were apparently still faintly visible on the tree he had originally carved them into in 1855, although by now some doubts were being expressed as to the authenticity of marks and identification of the tree.

The inscription at the base of the statue reads: ‘David Livingstone, 1813-1873, Missionary, Explorer, Liberator.’ The plaque reads:

“This monument was erected to the memory of their distinguished countryman through the united efforts of the Caledonian Society in the Union of South Africa and the Rhodesia affiliated to the Federated Caledonian Society of South Africa...

Unveiled 5 August 1934 by the Hon Howard Unwin Moffat CMG, nephew of Livingstone, Prime Minister of S Rhodesia, 1927-1933.”

It was subsequently decided that the surrounding lay-out of formal stone kerbing and gravel introduced an unwelcome note of artificiality to the Falls and the area surrounding the statue was subsequently restored to a more natural state.

The Livingstone Memorial Statue

The David Livingstone Memorial Statue



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