Alexander Graham Memorial Drinking Fountain

Location: Stromness, Orkney, Scotland

In the 18th century the Royal Burgh of Kirkwall had exclusive foreign trading rights preventing Stromness to trade abroad. Alexander Graham, a 18th century merchant, led the successful revolt which reversed this monopoly. He is commemorated on a drinking fountain located on Victoria Street at Pierhead. It was erected in 1901 to honour his efforts.

The 18 ft. drinking fountain was casting #27 manufactured by Walter Macfarlane & Co. at 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 provided a drinking trough for horses with a small recessed basin for dogs at ground level. The trough was a circular cast iron basin supported on legs in the form of horses’ hooves. A central fluted column was capped with a hexagonal lantern with scales of opal glass that cast the light downwards (design number 223).The lantern has changed throughout the centuries with advances in lighting.

A shield on the post is inscribed: Alexander Graham / Died 16th April 1783 / The Fountain Is Erected To Perpetuate / The Memory Of Alexander Graham / A Native Of This Town Who During The / Years 1743-1758, At Great Pecuniary / Sacrifice To Himself Fought The  / Royal Burgh Of Kirkwall As Repre /Senting The Convention Of Royal Burghs / In The Law Courts, And Was Ultimately / Successful In Obtaining A Verdict Which / Freed Stromness From Paying Cess To / Kirkwall And At The Same Time All Other / Towns In Scotland Similarly Situated Were / Thus Delivered From The Thraldom / Of The Royal Burghs / 1901 / Andrew Wylie / Provost

Originally and now missing, were four projecting consoles which suspended cups to allow humans to drink from the spouting water whilst horses drank from the large basin.

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  • Cess, a local tax
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal



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