Tait Drinking Fountain

Location: Limerick, Eire

In 1866, Sir Peter Tait, founder and owner of the Tait Clothing Factory on Lord Edward Street (later renamed the Limerick Clothing Factory), erected an elaborate cast iron drinking fountain inside the factory as a source of drinking water for his employees. Tait was a benevolent citizen and Mayor for three terms, 1866-1868.

The subsequent history of the fountain is unknown, but at some point it was removed, retained as an historical artifact and erected in the Terence Albert O’Brien Park which opened in the 1940’s. O’Brien was the Bishop of Emly who was executed in 1651 after the city fell to Cromwell’s army. The public park is also known as Clare Street Park.

Drinking fountain number 8 from Walter Macfarlane & Co.’s catalogue was manufactured at the Saracen Foundry at Possilpark in Glasgow. The structure is 9 feet 6 inches high and consists of four columns, from the capitals of which consoles with griffin terminals unite with arches formed of decorated mouldings. It is seated on a two tiered square plinth.

The standard design of the rope moulded cartouches within each lunette contained the image of a crane, and an open bible displaying a verse from St. John’s Gospel chapter 4 verse 14, ‘Whosoever Drinketh Of This Water Shall Thirst Again But Whosoever Drinketh Of The Water That I Shall Give Him Shall Never Thirst.

An optional memorial shield contains the heraldic emblem of the Tait family crest; a gauntlet with embowed arm in riveted plate armour and a bare hand grasping stems of red roses and leaves. Above the lunette is the Tait crest motto, Gratiam dat Deus (God Give Grace).

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On two of the sides provision was made for receiving an inscription using raised metal letters; whilst on the other two sides was the useful monition, Keep The Pavement Dry. Civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains. The structure is surmounted by an open filigree dome, the finial being a crown with a pattée cross.

Under the canopy the original font was design number 7 and stood 5 foot 8 inches high. The terminal which is now missing was a crane. The basin (2 feet 6 inches in diameter) which has a scalloped edge and decorative relief is supported by a single decorative pedestal with four pilasters and four descending salamanders, a symbol of courage and bravery. A central urn with four consoles offered drinking cups suspended by chains. The fountain was operated by pressing a button.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Griffins are symbolic of guardians of priceless possessions, salamanders display bravery and courage that cannot be extinguished by fire, and cranes are recognized as a symbol of vigilance.

Glossary

  • Capital: The top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • 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
  • Console: a decorative bracket support element
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Griffin, winged lion denotes vigilance and strength, guards treasure and priceless possessions
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Pattée cross, a cross with arms that narrow at the centre and flare out at the perimeter
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
  • Relief, a sculptural technique to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal
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Edward VII Coronation Fountain

Location: Fintry, Stirlingshire, Scotland

In the early 20th century a drinking fountain was erected at the junction of Main Street and Kippen Road (known as the Cross) to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII in 1902. The benefactor was Walter Menzies of Culcreuch who also funded the Menzies Village Hall and Stewart’s School.

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In 1986/7 the fountain was struck by a vehicle causing severe damage which initiated its removal to a residential garden while its future was decided. The offer to restore the fountain at a nominal cost by Broomside Foundry in Bonnybridge was eagerly accepted.

The fountain now located on a small traffic island is a customized design by Walter Macfarlane’s Saracen Foundry in Glasgow. It is seated on an octagonal plinth. The fountain is constructed with font number 18, a wide base in the form of a Greek cross with canted corners, on which is set a circular shaft ornamented with water lilies. Four lion jambs support four elaborately decorated quatrefoil basins. Symbolism was popular in Victorian times and lions are symbolic of guardianship.

An obelisk decorated with acanthus and floral relief rises from the center of the basins with four panels containing a swan engraving, and a shield identifying that the fountain was erected by Walter Menzies to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII.

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The capital hosts four consoles which offered drinking cups suspended by chains. A short pillar is terminated with decorative yoke maintenance arms beneath a lantern originally lit by gas.

Glossary

  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Greek cross, a cross with arms of equal length
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • Obelisk, a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
  • Quatrefoil, a type of decorative framework consisting of a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially-overlapping circles of the same diameter
  • Relief, a sculptural technique to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background
  • Yoke maintenance arms, the bars near the top of a street light which supported the lamplighter’s ladder

 


Newbridge Park Drinking Fountain

Location: Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England

A drinking fountain erected in Newbridge Park in 1927 was donated by Wolverhampton Solicitor Robert Rhodes. It was demolished during the Second World War when a dead tree fell on it.

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Robert Rhodes is fourth from the left in the picture. Source: http://lostwolverhampton.co.uk/when-spring-water-was-on-tap/

The canopied drinking fountain was design number 21 (18 feet by 4 feet) from Walter Macfarlane &Co.’s catalog manufactured by the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland. Seated on an octagonal plinth, the canopy was supported by eight columns with griffin terminals which were positioned over capitals with foliage frieze above square bases.

The highly decorated cusped arches were trimmed with rope mouldings which displayed lunettes with alternate images of cranes and swans, or optional memorial shields. On each side arch faceplates provided a flat surface for inscription using raised metal letters; often the useful monition, Keep The Pavement Dry. Civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains.

Doves and flowers offered decorative relief on the circular, open filigree, ribbed dome. The internal capitals were floral ornament, and statues of owls on enlarged column heads. The openwork iron canopy was surmounted with a vase and spiked obelisk finial.

Under the canopy stood font casting number 7. The 5ft. 8ins. high font is a single decorative pedestal with four pilasters and descending salamander relief supporting a basin 2ft. 6ins. in diameter. The interior surface of the scalloped edge basin was engraved with decorative relief, and a sculptured vase was terminated by the figure of a crane. Four elaborate consoles supported drinking cups on chains. Water flowed from a spout into the drinking cup by pressing its edge against a projecting stud below the spout. The self-closing valve allowed for operation with only one hand.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Griffins are symbolic of guardians of priceless possessions; doves are synonymous with peace, and owls are symbolic of guardians of the afterlife. Cranes are recognized as a symbol of vigilance and are often depicted standing on one leg while holding a stone in the claws of the other foot. Legend states that if the watchful crane fell asleep the stone would fall and waken the bird.

Glossary

  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • 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.
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Cusped Arch, the point of intersection of lobed or scalloped forms
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Griffin, winged lion denotes vigilance and strength, guards treasure and priceless possessions
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Obelisk, a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

Victoria Park Drinking Fountain

Location: Keighley, West Yorkshire, England

Eastwood House which was located in extensive parkland became part of the estate bought by public subscription in 1891. Henry Isaac Butterfield who was a local mill owner agreed to be a major benefactor with the condition that the new park be named Victoria Park. It was officially opened on 6 July 1893.

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Within each of the town’s parks a rule forbade alcoholic drinks. In an effort to prevent people from leaving the park to attend beer houses, Butterfield presented an elaborate drinking fountain to the townspeople.

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The cast iron drinking fountain which no longer exists was purchased from Walter Macfarlane & Co, and manufactured at the Saracen Foundry, Possilpark, Glasgow, Scotland. It was customized using features from two separate patterns.

The canopy was design number 20, an elaborate 18 feet by 4 feet fountain which was seated on a triple tiered octagonal plinth. The open filigree canopy was supported by eight columns with griffin terminals which were positioned over capitals with foliage frieze above square bases.

The highly decorated cusped arches were trimmed with rope mouldings which displayed lunettes with alternate images of cranes and swans, or optional memorial shields. On each side arch faceplates provided a flat surface for inscription using raised metal letters; often the useful monition, Keep The Pavement Dry. Civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains.

Doves and flowers offered decorative relief on the circular, ribbed dome. The internal capitals contained flowers and statues of owls on enlarged column heads. The structure was surmounted with #38 eagle finial (2ft. 10ins.)

The font which stood beneath the canopy was casting number 7. The 5ft. 8ins. high font was a single decorative pedestal with four pilasters and descending salamander relief supporting a basin 2ft. 6ins. in diameter. The interior surface of the scalloped edge basin was engraved with decorative relief, and a sculptured vase was terminated by the figure of a crane. Four elaborate consoles supported drinking cups on chains. Water flowed from a spout into the drinking cup by pressing its edge against a projecting stud below the spout. The self-closing valve allowed for operation with only one hand.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Griffins are symbolic of guardians of priceless possessions; doves are synonymous with peace, and owls are symbolic of guardians of the afterlife. Cranes are recognized as a symbol of vigilance and are often depicted standing on one leg while holding a stone in the claws of the other foot. Legend states that if the watchful crane fell asleep the stone would fall and waken the bird.

Glossary

  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Cusped Arch, the point of intersection of lobed or scalloped forms
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Griffin, winged lion denotes vigilance and strength, guards treasure and priceless possessions
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Pilaster
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

Abbotshall Churchyard Fountain

Location: Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland

This drinking fountain located in Abbotshall Churchyard is believed to have been erected to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria which occurred in 1887.

In the late 20th century, the cast iron fountain which had deteriorated due to adverse weather conditions, and a lack of maintenance, was also missing the finial which protruded from the basin.

The fountain was restored by Heritage Engineering in 2001. It was re-installed and unveiled on Saturday, 9th March 2002 by Mrs. Margaret Dean, Lord Lieutenant of Fife.

Design number 6 from Walter Macfarlane’s catalogue was manufactured by the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow. Standing 4ft. 11ins. on a square plinth, the fountain features an octagonal base from which a single decorated pedestal supports a basin. The sculptured finial rising from the basin is a shortened version of the original.

The original finial featured a pedestal with a capital which supported an acorn in the centre of four elaborate consoles. The consoles representing foliage supported four drinking cups suspended on chains.

ironworks jpb

Used with permission, John P, Bolton, Scottish Ironwork Foundation

Water flowed from a spout into the drinking cup by pressing its edge against a projecting stud below the spout. A self-closing valve allowed for operation with only one hand.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times; an acorn symbolizes that the roots of a family or institution are old and deep.

Glossary:

  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests

 

 


Queen Victoria Wall Fountain

Location: London, Surrey, England

In the grounds of Hampton Court Palace a 19th-century drinking fountain is set into the border wall of the Broad Walk which is in front of the eastern façade of the palace. It was installed soon after Queen Victoria opened the Palace and Gardens to the public in 1838.

The fountain was manufactured by Coalbrookdale Company of Shropshire (casting #106) from a design by William and Thomas Wills of Suffolk. The brothers were noted sculptors in the mid 19th century and best known for their designs of drinking fountains.

The cast iron frame is in the form of a stylized shield with curved edges. The top part of the shield forms a lunette displaying the crowned head of Queen Victoria; beneath is a recessed trefoil arch which contains the drinking well. A shell situated in the interior of the arch dispersed water into the basin below. A metal cup was chained to the right side of the shield. On either side of the well are seated putti holding daffodils on high whilst resting on acanthus foliage.

Two inscriptions were engraved: on the arch, Wills Brothers Sculpt London; and on the lower edge of the structure, Cast By The Coalbrookdale Co.

Glossary

  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Putto (plural is Putti), a figure in a work of art depicted as a chubby male child, usually nude
  • Trefoil, An ornamental design of three rounded lobes

 


Mercado del Puerto Drinking Fountain

Location: Montevideo, Uruguay

A cast iron drinking fountain situated just outside the iron gates of the market (Mercado del Puerto) was installed in 1897.

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Seated on a two tiered circular plinth, the canopy is a modification of design number 3 from Geo Smith & Co.’s Sun Foundry. Standing 9 feet 10 inches high, the structure consists of four columns with obelisk finials that support a domed canopy. The interior column connectors to the dome are adorned with flowers and leafy decoration.

Arch faceplates with drip fret detail offer a flat surface for inscriptions in raised metal letters; civic virtues such as temperance were extolled on many drinking fountains. Over each arch, cartouches within each lunette display the coat of arms for the city of Montevideo.

The solid dome with a flat finial may have supported a lantern which is now missing. The font, design number 12 with a central pedestal is surrounded by four small pillars. The base has a maker’s plate attached. The 2 ft 9” wide basin has dog tooth design on the rim, and is partitioned by four foliate consoles from which cups were suspended on chains. The structure is surmounted with a ball terminal.

Glossary:

  • 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
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Finial, A sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Foliate, decorated with leaves or leaf like motif
  • Fret, Running or repeated ornament
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Obelisk, A tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal