The movement to erect a monument to John Howard began in 1889 when a Howard Memorial Committee was formed. The commission to execute the work in bronze was given to Alfred Gilbert, a prominent Victorian sculpture who designed Eros in Piccadilly Circus. There was considerably difference of opinion regarding the site of the statue but the Committee decided on the Market Square as the best choice. Gilbert said that he "clothed Howard in the travelling dress of the time to denote he was a great traveller". The steps were originally the base of the drinking fountain presented to the town by Thomas Wesley Turnley, designed by John Usher and erected in 1870 on the Market Square and demolished ten years later.
Howard's statue was unveiled on the 28th March 1894 by the Duke of Bedford with the Rifle Volunteers forming a square and the Volunteer Fire Brigade complete with steam engine in attendance. Alfred Gilbert refused to attend the unveiling ceremony just as he had done when Eros was unveiled the year before. John Howard was the first person to have a statue put up in his honour in St. Pauls Cathedral.
- FARRAR, V. Bedford 50 Years Ago: The architecture of a county town.2007
- Newspaper Cuttings Collection, Local Studies Library, Bedford Central Library
John Howard Statue, by Bedfordshire Libraries, 2009
Page last updated: 22nd January 2014