When in 1963, the market moved from its centuries-old site in the middle of the city, the council set about realigning the road to ease traffic flow. This involved taking down the Gates Memorial, the drinking fountain monument to the city’s first mayor, Henry Pearson Gates. It had been donated to the city by his wife and erected in 1898. The public were asked to suggest a new name for the site and ‘Cathedral Square’ was selected. However, the council had its own ideas about what should replace the memorial. It asked four sculptors to submit ideas and designs. In February, it had brought in three art experts to advise which was best. They unanimously selected one called ‘The Seated Queen’. The council promptly put a model of ‘The Queen’ on display for public approval, despite one councillor saying: ‘anything of a modern sort is going to create comment from those that don’t understand it’. How right he was. Nobody wanted to ‘understand’ it, the ‘locals’ couldn’t understand it and didn’t want it anyway. It was on this rather appropriate day 1 April that the council finally erased ‘The Seated Queen’ from their plans and cost estimates! (Harper-Tee, John, ‘The Peterborough Story’, Peterborough Evening Telegraph, 1992)
Taken from The Peterborough Book of Days by Brian Jones, The History Press, 2014.