Hoylake Promenade Fountain

Location: Wirral, Cheshire, England

This drinking fountain was erected in 1901 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. The fountain is seated on a two tiered plinth located at the Hoylake promenade in Wirral. It was listed a grade II historic building on 20 January 1988.

Although the drinking fountain was still operational in the 1970s vandalism regularly destroyed the taps, and eventually the council stopped repairing it. It has changed colour throughout the years: a shade of green in the 1960s then painted blue in the 1970s, and when it was removed for restoration in 2008, it was black and gold. It has since been returned to the original paint colour.

A special project grant from Wirral Coucil enabled restoration and the structure was transported to Wolverhampton for repairs in February 2008. The project was completed in several stages; the font, finials and dedication medallion being installed after the fountain was returned to the Promenade.

Cast iron is an unusual material to be used in conjunction with water, and rust appeared almost immediately. In 2011 repairs were required. The basin is no longer a working font although the water pipe still remains under the plinth.

The following photos show the fountain in previous decades and also in various stages of the restoration project (architectural pieces are missing.) The last photograph shows the complete structure.

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 is seated on a two tier square plinth. 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 within each lunette host an image of Queen Victoria upon which is stamped the manufacturer’s name, Macfarlane & Co. Glasgow. The fourth medallion contains an inscription, For the Children of Hoylake and Meols. On two of the sides provision was made for receiving an inscription using raised metal letters. 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 is 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.

 

 

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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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