Monthly Archives: September 2017

Big Lamp Fountain

Location: Carrickfergus, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

The market place in the town of Carrickfergus lay within a triangle formed by the castle, the friary and St Nicholas’ Church. In its centre were a market cross called Great Patrick, and a market house which became the original Town Hall in 1843 until 1936.

A drinking fountain with a large gas lamp was installed on 19 November 1881 near the site of the old market cross on the High Street. It stood at the location of the old market house and was known locally as the Big Lamp. It became a meeting place, “Meet you at the Big Lamp”, and men gathered around it to discuss the news during World War One.

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Circa 1930s – presence of motor vehicles. Source: Facebook/OldCarrickFergus

Throughout the decades, the drinking fountain was modified; the big lamp was replaced with a central globe and three downward facing lanterns in the early 1930s, most likely coinciding with the introduction of electricity. Road signs to direct motor traffic were attached to the pedestal around the same time period.

Images from 1952 show that the original font with finial was removed, probably to install a more hygienic bubbler type fountain.

In 1955 it was struck by a truck and damaged prompting its removal. An inaccurate replica of the drinking fountain was erected in 1990 in Victoria Place not far from its original location.

The original drinking fountain, design number 3 from George Smith & Co.’s Sun Foundry, consisted of four columns with obelisk finials rising from a three tiered plinth to support a domed canopy. The interior column connectors to the dome were adorned with descending alligators and leafy decoration. Alligators were considered a symbol of evil and were hung from the ceilings of cabinets as a reminder of the mortality of humanity.

Arch faceplates with drip fret detail offered a flat surface for inscriptions in raised metal letters; civic virtues such as temperance were extolled on many drinking fountains. Over each arch, cartouches within each lunette offered commemorative dedication or crests.

On top of the solid dome was a pedestal braced by four secondary posts to support an oversized lantern made by George Bray, a prominent manufacturer and trader of gas burners and lamps. Bray’s Patent flat flame gas lantern was windproof, tapered downwards so as to avoid throwing a shadow on the ground in the immediate vicinity of the lamp post, and had reflectors in the top of the case to increase the illumination from the gas jet.

Standing within the canopy was a font customized from the standard design. A fluted pedestal and wide basin (pattern #11) was surmounted by the finial from pattern #7; a sculptured urn with two shell motif spouts. Water was collected with two drinking cups suspended on chains from elaborate consoles. A pointed enrichment terminated the structure.

Glossary:

  • 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
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fluted, a long rounded groove
  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • 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
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.
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Jubilee Fountain

Location: Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland

The drinking fountain canopy standing on a two tiered concrete plinth at Summerlee Industrial Museum was originally part of the drinking fountain installed in Dunbeth Park, Coatbridge to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. The ornately decorated canopy was known as the Jubilee Fountain.

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Creative Commons License, Colin Smith. Source: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1471807

The canopy was donated to Summerlee Heritage Trust by Monklands District Council Leisure and Recreation Department in 1989. It was restored by conservation engineers circa 1994-1996 and relocated to the Summerlee Museum. Many thanks to Jenny Noble, Social History Curator at CultureNL Ltd. who was very helpful in assisting with my research.

Design numbers 20 and 21 from Walter Macfarlane &Co.’s catalog were very similar, and with no pictorial evidence of the original structure including the finial and font, it is difficult to know for certain. However, John P. Bolton from the Scottish Ironwork Foundation is of the opinion that the design is #21 due to the fact that pattern number 20 was not available until the 1890s presumably for commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee of 1897.

Saracen #21

#21 from Walter Macfarlane &Co.’s catalog

Design number 21 (18 feet by 4 feet) was 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 cartouches of a crane, a left facing profile of Queen Victoria and a dedication: Presented To The Burgh Of Coatbridge / By The / Building Trades / 22nd June / 1887. Directly above an arch faceplate provides a flat surface for inscription using raised metal letters; 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. The openwork iron canopy was originally surmounted with a vase and spiked obelisk finial.

Under the canopy stood the font, casting number 7. The 5ft 8ins high font was a single decorative pedestal with four pilasters and descending salamander relief supporting a basin 2ft 6ins 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 allowed 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; and doves are synonymous with peace. 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.

Glossary

  • 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

 


Rebekah Foord Memorial Fountain

Location: Strood, Kent, England

A memorial drinking fountain was unveiled on Coronation Day, 28 June 1864, on the Rochester Esplanade to commemorate the life of Mrs. Foord, a benefactor of the poor. It was funded by public subscription and remained on the Esplanade until 1906 when it was relocated to Rochester Castle Gardens. In 1912 it was transported to the Recreation Ground, Northcote Road in Strood where it remained until 1930. Its current whereabouts is unknown.

An article in the Chatham News described the celebration of the opening of the fountain and ended with a poem;
Rebekah’s Fountain
Behold! a humble monument, we lift
To acts of one , to whom fond mem’ry leans;
A Font of flowing water: ‘tis the gift
Of God; t’obtain which man but finds the means.

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

Rope moulded cartouches within each lunette hosted the city and arms of Rochester and the Foord family, and an open bible displaying a verse from St. John’s Gospel chapter 4 verse 14, ‘Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.’ An inscription read; This Drinking Fountain Is Erected By Voluntary Contributions In Grateful Remembrance Of Mrs. Rebekah Foord Of This City Who During Her Life Was Foremost In All Works Of Usefulness And Kindness To The Poor. A.D. 1864 .

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 was surmounted by an open filigree dome, the finial being a crown with a pattée cross.

Under the canopy stood the font (design number 7) 5 foot 8 inches high. The terminal was a crane. The basin (2 feet 6 inches in diameter) which had 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.

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.

Glossary

  • 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
  • Pattée cross, a cross with arms that narrow at the centre and flare out at the perimeter
  • 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

 


Clock Tower Fountain

Location: Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales

In 1858 a tower was erected by public subscription to replace the Guildhall in the square at the top of Great Darkgate Street. A clock was installed courtesy of the noble family of Pryse of Gogerddan.

1905

Original clock tower circa 1905

The highly unpopular decision to demolish the original clock tower in 1957 was necessary due to safety concerns with the upper masonry. The current clock tower which was erected to celebrate the millennium bears no resemblance to the original design.

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A plaque in Welsh with English translation states;
This Clock Tower Was Inaugurated By Cllr D J Rowland Jones, Chairman Of Ceredigion City Council And Cllr Jaci Taylor Mayor Of Aberystwyth On 20th October 2000. Its Construction Was Funded By Ceredigion County Council And The Wales Tourist Board.

The drinking fountain at the base of the clock tower was donated in the mid-19th century by the Reverend John Williams who was a local Methodist minister and founder of the Band of Hope temperance group in Aberystwyth. They met in the Tabernacl Chapel and processed around the Town Clock.

 

Capture

The original drinking fountain has been incorporated into the south face of the current tower. The central area where the font was located now hosts a plaque in Welsh with English translation; This Casting Surrounded The Drinking Fountain On The Original Clock Tower And Was Donated By The Rev. John Williams (1826-1898) Of Tabernacl, An Ardent Advocate Of Total Abstinence And Founder Of Band Of Hope Aberystwyth.

Coalbrookdale_Jesus Samaria

The fountain was designed by brothers William and Thomas Wills, sculptors best known for their designs of drinking fountains. Their cast iron fountain designs were manufactured by the Coalbrookdale Co. Limited.

The cast iron frame is in the form of a stylized shield with curved edges. The top part of the shield forms a lunette of a winged cherub resting upon clouds. Beneath the cherub was a recessed arch which contained the font.

Each side of the arch is decorated with flowers and ivy tendrils. On the left side is a seated figure of Jesus Christ pointing with his left hand to the engraved verses 13 and 14 of St John’s Gospel, Chapter IV. Jesus Said / Whosoever Drinketh Of This Water Shall / Thirst Again But Whosoever Drinketh Of / The Water That I Shall Give Him Shall /Never Thirst. But The Water That I Shall / Give Him Shall Be In Him. A Well Of Water / Springing Up Into Everlasting Life / John IV. 13. 14.

On the right is a seated figure of the Woman of Samaria with her right hand resting on her cheek and her left hand on a tall urn. The vignette is a pictorial scene of Jesus meeting the Woman of Samaria at Jacob’s well.

Glossary

  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Vignette, portrayal of an episode