Launceston Design #27

Location: Launceston, Tasmania

Launceston was a city rife with drinking fountains/horse trough combinations in the 19th century, and design number 27 from the catalogue of Walter Macfarlane & Co. was a popular purchase. This first image is from the late 1800s near the Launceston and Western Railway station on Invermay Road. It was donated by The Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals for the use of travelling stock. Unfortunately, in 1910, it was removed to allow for construction of the Launceston Municipal Tramway. It was sold as scrap metal and no longer exists.

Invermay rd

Another example of the trough with a gas lamp was donated to the town by Alderman Adye Douglas Esq. and officially unveiled on 30 November 1883 (the following year, he became Premier of Tasmania). It was erected on the High Street, and although the location was chosen to allow light to be cast on Lawrence Street, High Street, Elphin Road, and Brisbane Street, its suitability was questioned as it was believed that horses stopping to drink would hinder other traffic in the street. In the year 1910, prior to the opening of the Tramway, this fountain was also moved to allow for construction.

GE_John HUtton2

Used with permission, John Hutton, Glasgow Engineering

The original 18 ft. drinking fountain was a modified version of design number 27 manufactured by the Saracen Foundry, Glasgow. The design was well suited for Street Crossings, Squares, Market Places, etc., as it afforded drinking accommodation for a large number of horses and drivers, and effectively lit a wide space with the least possible obstruction to other traffic.

The fountain was situated on a concrete plinth providing a drinking trough for horses with four small basins for dogs at ground level. The 6 feet 6 inches in diameter trough was a circular cast iron basin supported on legs in the form of horses’ hooves. The water was regulated by a small patent cistern, which was self-acting, and when the troughs were full the ball rose and shut the water off.

The central stanchion with four decorative consoles suspended cups allowing humans to drink. The water flow was operated with two bib valves which released water when pressed. A memorial shield painted brown was situated at the base of the fluted column inscribed with gold letters; Presented / To The Town Of Launceston / By / Adye Douglas Esq M.H.A. / An Alderman Of The Town / From Its Incorporation / Alfred Harrap / Mayor / C. W. Rocher / Town Clerk / 1883. The column was originally capped with an octagonal gilded lamp roofed in with scales of opal glass (design number 223). The lantern which cast the light downwards was surmounted with a crown terminal.


The structure changed throughout the years, and at one point in history, the lamp pillar was removed; replaced with a large basin decorated with lion mascarons and painted green.

Glasgow Engineering (established in 1892 in Launceston) was contracted by Launceston City Council to restore it to its original design. The restoration work was done to a high standard by recasting parts in cast iron and re-manufacturing the lamp. Glasgow Engineering donated $4000 to the project to bolster the limited funds of the Council. The water trough was installed on Sunday 12th October 2008 in its original location.

Many thanks to John Hutton, Managing Director of Glasgow Engineering, who kindly shared information and photographs of the structure. Detailed images of the restoration work can be viewed at


  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Plinth, Flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.
  • Stanchion, an upright bar or post providing support
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: