Witcombe Memorial Drinking Fountain

Location: Hay, New South Wales, Australia

The fountain is located at the corner of Moppet and Lachlan, in Hay, New South Wales, Australia. The official opening was in 1884 although the first flow of water was a month earlier in 1883. The fountain was donated to the people of Hay from Mayor John Witcombe. It is believed that he was the first Mayor to have presented his community with a fountain.

The fountain was listed on the National Register of the Estate in 1980. A decade later, the structure was restored by the Hay Shire Council. At one time it had been painted white but has been changed to a darker colour. It was rededicated in 2009 in conjunction with the Hay Sesquicentenary celebrations

Drinking fountain number 8 from Walter Macfarlane & Co.’s catalogue was manufactured at the Saracen Foundry at Possilpark in Glasgow, the most prolific architectural iron founders in the world. 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 New South Wales Coat of Arms and a dedication shield: Presented to the People of Hay by John Witcombe Mayor 1883 is present on two sides.

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 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 terminal was a crane. The influenza pandemic of 1918 initiated the conversion of the fountain to a bubbler which is still operational today.

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.

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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
  • 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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Posted on August 30, 2013, in AUS National Register, Australia, Cast Iron, Memorial Drinking Fountain, Saracen Foundry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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