Dr. Balfour Memorial Fountain

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

The drinking fountain located at Klondyke Street, Newcraighall, is unique in that it is not the sole work of one manufacturer.

Although this fountain is a design from George Smith & Co.’s Sun Foundry, their designs were acquired by the Lion Foundry of Kirkintilloch when the Sun Foundry closed in 1899. The structure is 9 feet 10 inches high, and consists of four columns with orb capitals rising from a single plinth to support a solid domed canopy. The interior column connectors to the dome were adorned with four descending dolphins, two of which are missing. Dolphins are symbolic guardians of all things water related.

Arch faceplates with drip fret detail offered 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 offer commemorative dedication or crests. The physical form of the dedication cartouche has been modified to accommodate the inscription: Erected By / The / People / Of This District / To Show Their Rich Esteem / For The Memory / Of / Dr Andrew Balfour / Who / For Thirty Years Took A Great Interest / In The Welfare Of This Village / Died 28th December / 1906 // Erected June / 1907. The dome finial is a two tiered vase with a spike.

The pillar font was manufactured by Glenfield and Kennedy of Kilmarnock and is a cylindrical fluted column. The manufacturer’s stamp is visible on two sides. A basin is located at the base for the use of small animals.

The drinking fountain was erected in 1907 at Whitehill Street to commemorate Dr. Andrew Balfour who had died the previous year. As detailed in the dedication, Dr. Balfour was a valued member of the community. On 24 May 1884 in Niddrie, a serious fire broke out in No. 7 pit which was about 250 fathoms deep. During the rescue effort, seven miners were discovered dead, one of whom was clasping in his arms his son, still alive. Information was immediately sent to the surface, and Dr. Andrew Balfour and Dr. John Balfour of Portobello, descended and gave medical assistance to the rescued miners, who were much exhausted. In 1890 an influenza epidemic hit the area and Dr. Balfour treated 146 cases of in a three week period in the Newcraighall mining village.

The fountain was listed a category C historic building on 29 April 1977.


  • 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
  • Finial, A sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fret, Running or repeated ornament
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Plinth, Flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.



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