Renton Drinking Fountain

Location: Renton, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland

This drinking fountain, originally located near the Smollett Monument in the village of Renton, now stands in a paved seating area at the Integrated Healthy Living Centre on Main Street. It is one of two drinking fountains presented in 1886 by Alexander Wylie of Cordale to the Local Authority of Cardross Parish to commemorate the opening of the Carman Reservoir.


The structure is in a state of disrepair and many of the original features are missing including the original font which was replaced with a pillar style drinking fountain made by Glenfield & Kennedy Ltd. of Kilmarnock. The original font was design number 7 standing 5 foot 8 inches high. The terminal was a crane. The basin (2 feet 6 inches in diameter) with a scalloped edge and decorative relief was supported by a single decorative pedestal with four pilasters and four descending salamanders, a symbol of courage and bravery. A central urn with four consoles offered drinking cups suspended by chains. The fountain was operated by pressing a button to release water flow.


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

Canopy 8_Saracen

Original casting of Saracen Canopy #8

The Renton example varies from the standard design which is not unusual as customization of each order was offered. The rope moulded cartouches within each lunette commonly contained optional memorial shields and the image of a crane which in this case has been replaced with a dog and the legend ‘Fides’. Fides was the goddess of trust, and the phrase ‘bona fides’ meant good faith.


The memorial shield hosts a dedication; Presented / By / Alex. Wylie Of Cordale / To Local Authority / Of Cardross Parish / To Commemorate / The Opening Of / Renton Water Works / 1886.


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 is surmounted by an open filigree dome, and although the standard finial was a crown with a pattée cross there is no photographic evidence to confirm.

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.


  • 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

All images used via Creative Commons License, Lairich Rig. Source:


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