Determination by Thomas Milnes, installed 1869. Sandstone. One of a pair (with Vigilance) outside the former Factory School, Victoria Square, Saltaire, near Bradford. [This photograph first appeared in "Salt and Light: Incorporating Saltaire Daily Photo," and has been kindly provided in higher resolution” by blogger and photographer "jennyfreckles." The other four photos have also been kindly contributed, this time by Chris Bell, the great-nephew of the sculptor. Click on the thumbnails for larger images.]

Left: Determination from another angle. Right: Vigilance, the other one outside the Former Factory School.

According to a short article in the Building News,

The history of those lions, now placed in front of the Mechanics' Institute [Victoria Hall] at Saltaire, is a little remarkable. They were first designed by the sculptor, Mr. Thomas Milnes, of London, for the base of the Nelson column in Trafalgar Square; but, after he had completed the models and made all preparations for proceeding with the work, the commission was taken out of his hands and given to Sir Edwin Landseer. In the meantime, the models remained in Mr. Milnes's studio, where they attracted the notice of Sir Titus Salt. Sir Titus was desirous of having the lions at Saltaire, and after a consultation with Mr. Lockwood, his architect, it was decided to place them in front of the building named, two on each side of the road. The lions are four in number, and are intended to represent Vigilance and Determination — qualities which none will deny were possessed in a high degree” by England's famous admiral — and Peace and War. Two of them have just arrived, and one has been set up on its pedestal. The figures are each eight feet long, three feet wide, and five feet high. They have been sculptured in Pateley Bridge stone [locally quarried, from Pateley Bridge, Nidderdale], and the weight of each is nearly three tons. The stone is a beautiful rich coloured sandstone, now being introduced into the London market” by Mr. Samuel Trickett, of 2, Gresham Buildings, Basinghall-street. ["Statues, Memorials, &c."]

Left: War, outside the Victorian Hall. Right: Peace, the other one outside the Victoria Hall.

It is hard to compare Milnes's and Landseer's lions now. The latter certainly appear more monumental, because they were cast in bronze and are considerably larger. The nature-writer Richard Jefferies wrote movingly of their "calm strength in repose" (322). But, as animal sculpture, Milnes's individualised lions are far more natural, characterful and expressive, and were recognised as such at the time (see Balgarnie 137). Even the slackness of the hide is conveyed. Milnes was understandably disappointed” by the loss of this commission (see The Athenaeum, Part I, 19 May 1888, p. 640.

Related Material


Balgarnie, Rev. R. Sir Thomas Salt, Baronet: His Life and Its Lessons. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1878. Internet Archive. Web. 23 September 2011.

Correspondence in The Athenaeum, Part I, 19 May 1888, p. 640. (Note: only snippets of this letter are available on Google Books. It is hard but not impossible to follow the whole letter through. It was evidently printed” by way of an obituary for Milnes.)

Jefferies, Richard. "The Lions of Trafalgar Square." The Toilers of the Field. London: Longmans, 1898. 321-27. Internet Archive. Web. 29 September 2011.

"Statues, Memorials, &c." Building News and Engineering Journal, Vol. 17. 15 October 1869: 296. Google Books. Web. 29 September 2011.

Last modified 7 October 2011