Location: Sandwell, Staffordshire, England
The canopy is all that remains of a drinking fountain located in Victoria Park, Tipton. It was commissioned by Mr. George Monnington Waring and his wife Elizabeth to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary. It was unveiled on June 29, 1901 and was listed as a Grade II historic building on 29th September 1987.
The structure was restored in 2014 by Dorothea Restorations. Repairs were made and missing items recast before being gilded and painted.
The canopied drinking fountain was design number 21 (18 feet by 4 feet) from Walter Macfarlane & Co.’s catalog manufactured by the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland. Seated on a two tiered octagonal plinth, the canopy is supported by eight columns with griffin terminals which are positioned over capitals with foliage frieze above square bases.
The highly decorated cusped arches are trimmed with rope mouldings which display lunettes with an image of a cranes and two memorial shields: Presented To The Inhabitants Of Tipton By Mr & Mrs G M Waring In Commemoration Of Their Golden Wedding And Residence In The Parish For Upwards Of 50 Years, April 1901.
On each side arch faceplates provide a flat surface for inscription using raised metal letters; often the useful monition, Keep The Pavement Dry. Civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains.
Doves and flowers offer decorative relief on the circular, open filigree, ribbed dome. The internal capitals are floral ornament, and statues of owls on enlarged column heads. The openwork iron canopy is surmounted with a vase and spiked obelisk finial.
Under the canopy the standard design was font casting number 7. The 5 ft 8ins high font was a single decorative pedestal with four pilasters and descending salamander relief supporting a basin 2 ft 6 ins in diameter. The interior surface of the scalloped edge basin was engraved with decorative relief, and a sculptured vase was terminated by the figure of a crane. Four elaborate consoles supported drinking cups on chains. Water flowed from a spout into the drinking cup by pressing its edge against a projecting stud below the spout. The self-closing valve thus allowing for operation with only one hand.
Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Griffins are symbolic of guardians of priceless possessions; lions are symbolic of guardianship; doves are synonymous with peace, and owls are symbolic of guardians of the afterlife. Cranes are recognized as a symbol of vigilance and are often depicted standing on one leg while holding a stone in the claws of the other foot. Legend states that if the watchful crane fell asleep the stone would fall and waken the bird.
- 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
- Cusped Arch, the point of intersection of lobed or scalloped forms
- 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
- Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
- 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
- Obelisk, a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top
- 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