Sheriff Vary Campbell Memorial Fountain

Location: Stow, Scottish Borders, Scotland

A drinking fountain which once stood at the crossroads (Station Road and Galashiels Road) was donated by Mrs. Campbell of Pirn House in memory of her husband, Sheriff Vary Campbell. It was erected to coincide with the Coronation of King Edward VII on 9th August 1902.

Mrs. Campbell was presented with a leather case containing a finely engraved ceremonial key to turn on the fountain. A silver plaque on the lid was engraved with the legend: Presented To / Mrs Vary Campbell / On The Occasion Of Turning On The Water At Stow Public Fountain / Erected By The Said Mrs Vary Campbell / In Honour Of The Coronation Of The King And In Memory Of Her Husband / Richard Vary Campbell L.L.B. / Sheriff Of Roxburgh, Berwick & Selkirk / Stow 9th August 1902.

This key was likely inserted into a rod in the ground to turn on the water flow.  See photo below, the rod is in the foreground.

Used with permission, Stow Parish Archive

Used with permission, Stow Parish Archive

The fountain was purchased from Walter Macfarlane’s catalogue and manufactured at the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow. Seated on a square plinth, drinking fountain number 7 was a single pedestal basin with four decorative columns rising from an octagonal base. Four salamanders descended the fountain pedestal as a symbol of courage and bravery. The basin had a scalloped edge and decorative relief. Water was released from a central urn by pushing a pressure knob. Four consoles offered drinking cups suspended by chains. The terminal was a crane, recognized as a symbol of vigilance.

This is what the fountain looked like. Saracen Foundry Casting 7

This is what the fountain looked like. Saracen Foundry Casting 7

The only photo I could find. Used with permission, Stow Parish Archive.

Used with permission, Stow Parish Archive.

In 1917 a roadside buffet was set up at the fountain. Tea and biscuits were offered to tourists who took advantage of the bus tours that travelled from Edinburgh to the Border Abbeys. The minimal charge was a local contribution to the war effort.

During the Second World War it was common for metalwork to be recycled for armaments, and it is likely that this is the reason that the cast iron fountain and a plaque memorializing Sheriff Campbell was removed.


  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • 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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