William Hall Fountain

Location: Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, England

William Hall was a philanthropist and a highly respected member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The Order began in 17th Century England in a time when people struggled to survive. It was therefore considered odd to find an organization of people who gave aid to those in need without any recognition; hence the name, Odd Fellows.

Hall was the oldest Oddfellow in the North of England when he died at age 75 in 1876. Voluntary contributions from the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows erected this memorial drinking fountain in his memory. The fountain was presented to the City of Sunderland in 1878 at a ceremony in Mowbray Park. It is located at the north end of Central Avenue.

The memorial drinking fountain was listed a grade II historical building in 1978. Mowbray Park opened in 1857 and was restored in the late 1990’s, reopening in 2000. The drinking fountain was repainted in 2005.

Drinking fountain number 8 from Walter Macfarlane & Co.’s catalogue is 9 feet 6 inches high and is seated on a square plinth. It 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 medallions which were customized for each order. On the north side is a medallion encircled with the Latin words, Nil Desperandum Auspice Deo 1878 (Do Not Despair Have Faith In God – this is used on the Sunderland coat of arms.) The Borough’s coat of arms is presented in a shield.

On the south side, the medallion contains the same Latin phrase, Nil Desperandum Auspice Deo 1878 (Do Not Despair Have Faith In God.) A shield contains symbols representative of the Order of Oddfellows: a hand with a heart in the palm atop a globe, a beehive on the left, and an hourglass on the right. The heart on hand and hourglass symbols were used by the Order in early 19th century banners. Symbolism: Whatever the hand goes forth to do the heart should go forth in unison.

The east side of the canopy contains a Medallion encircled with the Latin phrase, Amicitia Amor Et Veritas 1878 (Friendship Love and Truth.) A shield contains an inscription: In Memory/ Of William Hall PPGM/ Of The Sunderland/ District Independent /Order Of /Odd Fellows/MU.

On the west side a Medallion encircled with the same phrase, Amicitia Amor Et Veritas 1878 (Friendship Love and Truth.) A shield contains an inscription: Presented/To/The Corporation/Of Sunderland By/The Oddfellows/MU.

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 stood the original font (design 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 symbol of courage and bravery. A central urn with four consoles offered drinking cups suspended by chains. The terminal was a crane.

At some point, the font was replaced with a pillar style drinking fountain made by Glenfield & Kennedy Ltd. of Kilmarnock. This fluted cast iron cylindrical column has a moulded domed top and pineapple finial. The design was patented by Kennedy as a self closing, anti-freezing pillar fountain. Originally, a metal cup was suspended on a chain, but unfortunately the fervent hope that the fountain ‘may often be used, but never abused, that its crystal streams will continue to flow for many a long year’, has not been realized and the fountain is no longer in use. 


  • 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



2 responses to “William Hall Fountain

  • Ken

    Thank you for the info on the fountains ,I found one of what used to be several around Portsmouth on the London road out of Cosham, I used them years ago , the knob had to be turned to get water out which needed some turning ! This would otherwise all be forgotten!

  • HIS

    Thanks you for reading. I am as interested in the history behind them as I am in the structures themselves.

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