Location: Preston, Lancashire, England
In the mid 19th century, within the south east corner of Avenham Park close to the Old Tram Bridge, an arched recess was built into sandstone to house a natural spring which had the reputation of never running dry and being so pure that it could cure ailments. In the 1870s a drinking fountain was erected over the spring to allow the public improved access to the crystal clear water.
The fountain consisted of a dolphin sculptured in serpentine (a dark green mineral consisting of hydrated magnesium silicate, sometimes mottled or spotted like a snake’s skin). Water flowed from the mouth of the dolphin into a white marble basin in the shape of a shell.
Due to analysis of the spring water in the 1880s a very high percentage of animal matter was discovered; and the spring was therefore diverted from the fountain with the intention of piping water from the nearby town of Longridge.
In the mid 20th century, two conflicting events occurred: the fountain structure disappeared leaving only a protruding pipe, and the stone well was recorded as a Grade II historic listing on 27 September 1979.
A 21st century multi-million pound restoration project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the North West Regional Development Agency to regenerate Preston’s parks included a proposal to restore the historic drinking fountain. Consent was received to alter the listed structure, and a replica of the Dolphin Fountain was created in cast iron with a demi-lune fluted basin. The fountain was once again connected to the natural underground spring and installation was completed in 2011.
Although the sculpture resembles a sea serpent, this figurine is relatively common in the Victorian period and was representative of a dolphin. They were recognized as a good omen and a symbol of protection.
- Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
- Fluted, a long rounded groove decorating
Posted on August 9, 2015, in Architecture, BrItish Listed Building, Cast Iron, Drinking Fountain, England and tagged Avenham Park, Heritage Lottery Fund, Lancashire, Longridge, North West Regional Development Agency, Old Tram Bridge, Preston, serpentine. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.