Newport-on-Tay Fountain

Location: Dundee, Fife, Scotland

The city of Dundee was once the jute capital of the world. Mrs. Blyth Martin, a member of a prominent Dundee jute family, donated the fountain in 1882 to the town of Newport-on-Tay with the intention of providing clean drinking water to the citizens. It is situated on Tay Street looking across the River Tay to Dundee.

The fountain was listed a category B historic building in 2002. Restoration of the fountain was undertaken in 2012. The discovery of rust shortly thereafter revealed that the surface had not been adequately prepared and corrective measures were taken in 2013.

The canopied drinking fountain is design number 21 (18 feet by 4 feet) from Walter Macfarlane’s catalog manufactured at the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland. Seated on a two tiered octagonal plinth, the canopy is supported by eight columns with griffin terminals which are positioned over capitals with foliage frieze above square bases.

The highly decorated cusped arches are trimmed with rope mouldings. Cartouches contained within each lunette offer shields for memorial. The east facing shield contains a commemoration inscription, The Gift / of / Mrs. Blyth Martin / 1882. The remaining lunettes contain a stag and herons.

On each side, arch faceplates provided a flat surface for an inscription using raised metal letters; above the east facing arch is the useful monition, Keep The Pavement Dry. Civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains.

Doves and flowers offer decorative relief on the circular, open filigree, ribbed dome. The internal capitals are floral ornament. The structure is surmounted with a vase and spiked obelisk finial.

Under the canopy stands font casting number 7. The 5 ft 8ins high font is a single decorative pedestal with four pilasters and descending salamander relief supporting a basin 2 ft 6 ins in diameter. The interior surface of the scalloped edge basin is engraved with decorative relief, and a sculptured vase is terminated by the figure of a crane. Four elaborate consoles support drinking cups on chains.

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
  • Cusped Arch, the point of intersection of lobed or scalloped forms
  • 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
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • 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
  • Obelisk, a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top
  • 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

 

 

Posted on June 10, 2014, in Architecture, BrItish Listed Building, Cast Iron, Drinking Fountain, Saracen Foundry, Scotland and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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