Fountain at Dawbiney Market Square

Location: Roseau, Dominica, West Indies

In the town of Roseau, there is a cobblestone square known as Dawbiney Market Square. It is here that we find an old Victorian drinking fountain which was erected in 1872 as a celebration of the introduction of piped water from La Riviere Douce in the Roseau Valley. It stands on the site of an old well.

The historic market located in the center of the town was a major trading site between Dominica and neighbouring islands. Public executions also took place in the market square, and slave auctions were commonplace. African slaves were brought here by colonial planters, and in 1805 the Population Returns showed 1594 whites, 2882 free people of colour, and 22,083 slaves. Uprisings a decade later eventually led to the emancipation of all slaves in 1838.

The present structure of the fountain is a canopy only. Decorative elements are missing, and the actual drinking fountain no longer exists. The canopy is drinking fountain number 8 from Walter Macfarlane & Co.’s catalogue standing 9 feet 6 inches high consisting of four columns, from the capitals of which consoles with griffin terminals unite with arches formed of decorated mouldings. Currently, three of the griffin terminals are missing.

The design for this casting offered four lunettes hosting 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.’ 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 a font. This fountain design was most often completed with font number 7 at 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.



  • 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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