Dr. John Grant Smith Memorial Fountain

Location: Thurso, Highlands, Scotland

This drinking fountain was erected in memory of Dr. John Grant Smith who served the community and surrounding area for 44 years before dying unexpectedly from an illness. He was held in such high regard that a public funeral was held, and donations from the local townspeople paid for the memorial which was erected at the Town Hall Square.

Alan McIvor Collection, used with permission. Source: http://www.thursointeractive.co.uk/default.aspx

Alan McIvor Collection, used with permission. Source: http://www.thursointeractive.co.uk/default.aspx

In the 1950’s probably due to lack of use and public awareness of hygiene, the drinking fountain was taken apart and moved to the Esplanade where it was neglected.

The Thurso Community Council spearheaded the restoration of the structure, and with a financial donation from UKAEA Dounreay, and a personal donation of time from Mr. Robbie Maitland, a painter and decorator, the fountain was returned to its previous glory.

Drinking fountain number 19 (10’ 10” high), manufactured by Walter Macfarlane’s Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, originally stood on a square plinth opposite the Town Hall. The wide base with canted corners supports a circular shaft ornamented with water lilies. Four lion jambs support four highly decorated quatrefoil basins. The stanchion and central column are decorated with floral relief and projecting acanthus. Four consoles protrude from the column to suspend drinking cups on chains. The capital supports the finial, a statue of Samson. Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Lions are symbolic of guardianship and Samson is symbolic of strength.


  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
  • Quatrefoil, a type of decorative framework consisting of a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially-overlapping circles of the same diameter
  • Stanchion, an upright bar or post providing support


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