Dock Fountains

Location: Liverpool, Merseyside, England

During a visit to Switzerland Charles P. Melly, a local businessman, philanthropist and member of the City Council for Abercromby Ward was intrigued by the fountains in Geneva that offered free drinking water. In 1854 he installed two water spouts offering access to drinking water in the Princes Dock area, primarily for the use of dock workers and immigrants sailing to Australia and America.

The usage and popularity of the taps inspired him to provide fountains throughout the city. In 1859, a now disputed number (33 or 43) drinking fountains endorsed by the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board were installed on both sides of the dock boundary wall. The fountains were attached to walls, buildings and bridges in areas where the public could easily access them. The majority of the fountains were created in granite with a lesser number cast in iron.

The cast iron models still in existence are in the shape of an arch with a fluted background. A shell lunette dominates the interior. A spigot directly beneath the shell delivered water which was gathered into a drinking cup suspended on a chain. A small circular basin inset to the wall collected unused water. The manufacturer is unknown; however, the shell lunette is similar to a design used by Walter Macfarlane’s Saracen Foundry.

  1. Nelson dock is on Regent Road
  2. Prince’s dock is on Bath Street Gibraltar Row
  3. Trafalgar dock is on Waterloo Road reset into a rebuilt wall

Glossary:

  • Fluted, a long rounded groove
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Spigot, a device that controls the flow of liquid
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