Thomas Henderson Drinking Fountain

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

 

Thomas Henderson donated a drinking fountain to the city of Melbourne at the end of his term as Mayor It was shipped from the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland and erected in 1877. It originally stood outside North Melbourne Post Office (in the Town of Hotham) and currently resides outside the Town Hall at Errol Street and Queensbury Street in North Melbourne.

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

Rope moulded cartouches contained within each lunette host the image of a crane, and 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 extended spike (terminal #231).

Under the canopy stands the font (design number 7) 5 foot 8 inches high. The basin 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 offer drinking cups suspended by chains. The original design was offered with the statuette of a crane, but as modifications and embellishments were accommodated, it was replaced with a kangaroo.

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.

The history of the fountain includes several different locations and modifications to the structure itself including the installation of a pedestal style basin with a drinking spout. A photograph from 1970 held by Picture Victoria shows two shields containing the Coat of Arms for the town of Hotham. A dedication would almost certainly have been in one of the remaining shields, and a modern equivalent was installed during the fountain’s restoration in 2001. Thomas Henderson, namesake of the patron, was in attendance during the ceremony.

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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
  • 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
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Posted on August 9, 2013, in Architecture, Australia, Cast Iron, Memorial Drinking Fountain, Saracen Foundry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I love this fountain! I was delighted when I came upon it on my walk around the area.

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