Beare Park Fountain

Location: Elizabeth Bay, New South Wales, Australia

Beare Park is located close to the corner of The Esplanade and Ithaca Road. The drinking fountain, number 8 from Walter Macfarlane & Co.’s catalogue, was erected in 1870.

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.

Rope moulded cartouches within each lunette host 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.’; the circular seal of the City of Sydney which contains an inscription identifying Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of City of Sydney, 1857. The Coat of Arms consists of a shield with a ship and beehive surmounted by a mural crown impaled with a pick-axe and a star. The shield is flanked by an aboriginal native with a spear; and an English sailor. The Seal bears the motto, “I take, but I surrender.”

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 there was originally a font with a basin, a statue, and four drinking cups suspended on chains. Initially, the fountain contained an iron tap which regulated the flow of water. In the interest of hygiene, drinking cups were abolished and the font was replaced with a bubbler so named because it produced a flow of bubbling water. The bubblers were produced by John Danks & Co.

Although there is no photographic evidence to reveal the original casting, it was more than likely number 7, 5 foot 8 inches high. The basin which had a scalloped edge and decorative relief was supported by a single decorative pedestal with four pilasters and four descending salamanders. A central urn with four consoles offered drinking cups suspended by chains. The terminal was a crane.

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
  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • 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
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

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