Jubilee Fountain

Location: The Promenade, Albert Road, Gourock, Inverclyde, Scotland

The cast iron drinking fountain found on the Promenade in Gourock was erected in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Silver Jubilee. Originally placed further east from its present location, it had been moved to its current position by 1938. The structure was recorded as a Category C listed building on 29 March 1994.

The current structure differs from the early days of its dedication and is missing decorative and vital pieces. The font no longer exists. It was replaced in the early 1900s with the Puro Sanitary Drinking Fountain. The trademark ‘puro’ is in evidence. This word refers to the water pump which was cut off by a self-acting spring to prevent an overflow of water and the necessity for a ground drain. By squeezing a handle, a single bubble of water was released thereby reducing the spread of disease; hence the name ‘puro’ meaning pure. The current non-functioning water pipe is inscribed with the iron founder’s name, , Hurlford, Ayrshire.

Drinking fountain, number 8 from Walter Macfarlane & Co.’s catalogue, was manufactured at the Saracen Foundry at Possilpark in Glasgow. The 9 feet 6 inches high structure is seated on a two tiered square plinth, consisting of four columns, from the capitals of which consoles with griffin terminals united with arches of decorated mouldings. Rope moulded cartouches within two lunettes host the image of a crane, and a bust of Queen Victoria graces the remaining two lunettes with an inscription using raised metal letters: Jubilee 1897. The structure is surmounted by an open filigree dome. The original finial, a crown with a pattée cross, is missing.

Under the canopy stood the font (design number 7) at 5 feet 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.

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.

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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