Five Lamps Drinking Fountain

Location: Thornaby-on-Tees, North Yorkshire, England

The origin of the five lamps is linked to the legend that Robert de Thormodbi (Thornaby) created a shrine to the Virgin Mary, lit by five sanctuary lamps in St Peter’s Church, to fufill a vow made during the Crusades.

A drinking fountain erected in 1874 located at the junctions of George Street, Mandale Road, and Westbury Street supported the original five gas lights which were commissioned by local Justices of the Peace; Joseph Richardson, William Whitewell, Charles Arthur Head and William Anderson. The structure became popular with public speakers, and was used as a gathering place to celebrate New Year when the Town Hall clock struck midnight.

The source of lighting changed in the 1930s when electricity was introduced and in the 1950s the lanterns were replaced with a series of lamp styles.

The drinking fountain was design number 175 registered to George Smith & Co. manufactured by the Sun Foundry in Glasgow. Demi-lune quatrefoil basins which doubled as horse troughs were supported by a square base with chamfered corners. Panels decorated with palmette and acanthus relief flanked each basin. Each side of the central column contained a compass cross at the centre of which was a lion mask with a self-closing tap from which water spouted. Originally there were metal cups suspended on chains.

A frieze of laurel wreaths was situated beneath the capital upon which there was a lamp standard with four decorative feet. The pedestal had a bulbous base with bas-relief extending with fluted column and bands to a two tiered acroter, the terminal of which was a candelabrum of 5 glass lanterns with elaborate consoles.

The drinking fountain portion of the structure was removed in the early 1950’s probably due to the new public awareness of hygiene. All evidence of the original drinking fountain structure disappeared when the lamps were removed during construction of the A66 which was underway in 1980.

A replica of the five lamps supported by a square pedestal with four sides was created by apprentices of Head Wrightson Ltd. and erected on the roundabout at the junction of Westbury Street and Mandale Road (50 yards from the original location). It was unveiled by Mayor Pragnell on 1st September 1983. The Stockton-on-Tees coat of arms is displayed on one panel with the motto “Forward As One”, and on a second panel is the Thornaby coat of arms with the motto “Always Advancing” A third panel is inscribed, This Is A Replica / Of The “Five-Lamps” / Which Stood On / Mandale Road / Thornaby / From 1874-1950, / Symbolizing The Right Of Free Speech / To All People. / Made By / The Trainees Of / Head Wrightson / Limited / In 1983. The fourth panel is inscribed, This Plaque / Was Unveiled By / His Worship / The Mayor / Cllr. A. R. Pragnell / C.E. M.I.M. E. F.R.S.H. / On 1st September 1983 / To Commemorate / The Relocation Of / The “Five-Lamps”

Subsequent vandalism required the lamps to be repaired and then relocated to Mitchell Avenue as a gateway to the regenerated Thornaby Town Centre.


  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Acroter, flat base
  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Chamfer
  • Compass cross, a cross of equal vertical and horizontal lengths, concentric with and overlaying a circle.
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Mask/Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Palmette, a decorative motif resembling the fan shaped leaves of a palm tree
  • Quatrefoil, a type of decorative framework consisting of a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially-overlapping circles of the same diameter
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

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