Smithfield Cattle Market Drinking Fountain

Location: Welshpool, Powys, Wales

The economy of Welshpool which was based upon agriculture created the establishment of the Smithfield Livestock Market in 1863. Horses, cattle and dogs that travelled to local markets required water for drinking which created a need for water troughs. In the Victorian period the troughs were identified on maps and were referred to as filling stations.

The stone troughs at the Smithfield cattle market formed a moat that surrounded a cast iron drinking fountain accessed via three stone steps. The fountain was removed during World War II to be recycled as armaments. During the First World War the horse repository in Smithfield was used as a prisoner of war camp.

peoples

Used with permission, Creative Archive Licence. http://www.peoplescollection.wales/items/10915

Drinking fountain number 8 from Walter Macfarlane & Co.’s catalogue was manufactured at the Saracen Foundry at Possilpark in Glasgow. The structure was 9 feet 6 inches high and consisted of four columns, from the capitals of which consoles with griffin terminals united with arches formed of decorated mouldings.

Rope moulded cartouches within each lunette host the image of a crane, or optional memorial shields. On two of the sides provision was made for receiving an inscription using raised metal letters; whilst on the other two sides was the useful monition, Keep The Pavement Dry. Civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains. The structure was surmounted by an open filigree dome, the finial being a crown with a pattée cross.

Under the canopy stood the font (design number 7) 5 foot 8 inches high. The basin which had a scalloped edge and decorative relief was supported by a single decorative pedestal with four pilasters and four descending salamanders. A central urn with four consoles offered drinking cups suspended by chains. The terminal was a crane.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Griffins are symbolic of guardians of priceless possessions, salamanders display bravery and courage that cannot be extinguished by fire, and cranes are recognized as a symbol of vigilance.

Glossary

  • Capital: The top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Cartouche, a structure or figure, often in the shape of an oval shield or oblong scroll, used as an architectural or graphic ornament or to bear a design or inscription
  • Console: a decorative bracket support element
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • Griffin, winged lion denotes vigilance and strength, guards treasure and priceless possessions
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Pattée cross, a cross with arms that narrow at the centre and flare out at the perimeter
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure
  • 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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