William Hall was a philanthropist and a highly respected member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The Order began in 17th Century England in a time when people struggled to survive. It was therefore considered odd to find an organization of people who gave aid to those in need without any recognition; hence the name, Odd Fellows.
William Hall was the oldest Oddfellow in the North of England when he died at age 75 in 1876. Voluntary contributions from the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows erected this memorial drinking fountain in his memory. The fountain was presented to the City of Sunderland in 1878 at a ceremony in Mowbray Park. It is located at the north end ofCentral Avenue.
Casting number 8 from William MacFarlane’s catalogue is 9 feet 6 inches high and is seated on a square plinth. The canopy consists of four columns with arches formed of decorated mouldings and provision for inscriptions using raised metal letters. The useful monition Keep the pavement dry is evident on each side. Civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains.
Cartouches contained within each lunette host medallions that were customized for each order. On the north side, a medallion encircled with the Latin words, Nil Desperandum Auspice Deo 1878 (Do Not Despair Have Faith In God – this is used on the Sunderland coat of arms.) The Borough’s coat of arms is presented in a shield.
On the south side the medallion contains the same Latin phrase, Nil Desperandum Auspice Deo 1878 (Do Not Despair Have Faith In God.) A shield contains symbols representative of the Order of Oddfellows: a hand with a heart in the palm atop a globe, a beehive on the left, and an hourglass on the right. The heart on hand and hourglass symbols were used by the Order in early 19th century banners. Symbolism: Whatever the hand goes forth to do the heart should go forth in unison.
The east side of the canopy contains a Medallion encircled with the Latin phrase, Amicitia Amor Et Veritas 1878 (Friendship Love and Truth.) A shield contains an inscription: In Memory/ Of William Hall PPGM/ Of The Sunderland/ District Independent /Order Of /Odd Fellows/MU.
On the west side a Medallion encircled with the same phrase, Amicitia Amor Et Veritas 1878 (Friendship Love and Truth.) A shield contains an inscription: Presented/To/The Corporation/Of Sunderland By/The Oddfellows/MU.
The structure is surmounted by an open filigree dome, the terminal being an imperial crown.
The drinking fountain column was made by Glenfield & Kennedy Ltd. of Kilmarnock. It is a fluted cast iron cylindrical column, with a moulded domed top and pineapple finial. The design was patented by Kennedy as a self closing, anti-freezing pillar fountain. Originally, a metal cup was suspended on a chain, but unfortunately the fervent hope that the fountain ‘may often be used, but never abused, that its crystal streams will continue to flow for many a long year’, has not been realized and the fountain is no longer in use.
The memorial drinking fountain was listed a grade II historical building in 1978. Mowbray Park was opened in 1857 and restored in the late 1990′s, reopening in 2000. The drinking fountain was repainted in 2005.
- Cartouche, a structure or figure, often in the shape of an oval shield or oblong scroll, used as an architectural or graphic ornament or to bear a design or inscription
- Filigree, fine ornamental work
- Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
- Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
- Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
- Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal