Diamond Jubilee Fountain

Location: Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

The cast iron drinking fountain erected in 1897 for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee originally stood outside the Old Town Hall in George Street. It was moved several times within George Street when it became an obstacle to traffic, and was demolished when a car reversed into it.

It was reconstructed and restored by a local craftsman, and erected on a pedestrian area beside St. John’s Castle on Charlotte Street opposite Logan’s Close. At one time seated on a two tiered square plinth it now sits on a three tiered circular plinth. The structure was listed a Category C historic building on 30 March 1998.

Drinking fountain number 8 from Walter Macfarlane & Co.’s catalogue is 9 feet 6 inches high and was manufactured at the Saracen Foundry at Possilpark in Glasgow, The structure is 9 feet 6 inches high and consists of four columns, from the capitals of which consoles with griffin terminals unite with arches formed of decorated mouldings.

Rope moulded cartouches contained within each lunette host the bust of Queen Victoria, in profile, on the north elevation; the burgh arms (a ship with three sails, and the motto Tutissima Statio meaning safest harbour) on the south elevation; and the east and west elevations contain a dedication Erected / By The / Town Council / In Commemoration Of / Queen Victoria’s / Record Reign / 1897.

On each side provision was made for receiving an inscription using raised metal letters; on the east and west sides is 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 with a crown and lantern finial.

Under the canopy stands the font (design number 7), 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.

 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
  • 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
  • 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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