Bridgend Fountain

Location: Newmilns, Ayrshire, Scotland

The Irvine river which flows through this town is renowned for flooding its banks, and a severe epidemic of cholera in 1849 was attributed to the river. As numerous public wells around Newmilns were polluted to some degree, a decision was made in 1888 to create a gravitation water supply via a reservoir to be developed at Allanton Plains near Loudoun Hill.

A drinking fountain to supply drinking water to humans and horses was presented to the town by Provost Joseph Hood, the owner of a lace mill and a member of the town’s Total Abstinence Society. The fountain was erected in 1890 at the corner of Bridgend and Main Street.

The 18 ft. drinking fountain was number 27 manufactured by Walter Macfarlane & Co. in the Saracen Foundry, Glasgow. The design was well suited for Street Crossings, Squares, Market Places, etc., as it afforded drinking accommodation for a large number of horses and drivers, and effectively lit a wide space, with the least possible obstruction to other traffic.

The structure, seated on a circular plinth, provided a drinking trough for horses from which overflow water filled a small basin for dogs at ground level. The trough was a circular cast iron basin supported on legs in the form of horses’ hooves. The central fluted column offered a shield for inscription. Four projecting consoles suspended cups allowing humans to drink from the spouting water whilst horses drank from the large basin. Three glass lanterns were supported by elaborate scrollwork consoles. Fueled originally with paraffin, the lanterns were later replaced with a single gas lamp. The column was also used as a street directional sign.

A second drinking fountain specifically for human use was located near the tollbooth in Main Street. Without a clear photo it is impossible to categorically identify; however, it looks remarkably like casting #48 manufactured by Andrew Handyside in Derby, England.

Glossary

  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Plinth, Flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.
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