Monthly Archives: January 2018

Greenock Esplanade Drinking Fountain

Location: Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland

Note: I have researched hundreds of cast iron drinking fountains, and on occasion the research takes months, or is put on the back burner because there is no digital information available (most of my research is done online). This particular fountain has been pulled out of my ‘stumped’ folder – perhaps a reader can contribute.

The drinking fountain canopy is located in the garden of John Gault House on the Greenock Esplanade. The structure originally located at the western end of the Esplanade housed a drinking fountain.

Drinking fountain number 8 from Walter Macfarlane & Co.’s catalogue was 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.

Rope moulded cartouches within each lunette host the image of a crane. Memorial shields were also offered including 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.’ 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, 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
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Aberlour Railway Station Drinking Fountain

Location: Aberlour, Moray, Scotland

The drinking fountain attached to the wall of the main building served travellers for many years following the opening of the railway station in 1923. The Strathspey Railway closed the line to passengers in 1965 although freight traffic continued to use it until 1971. The building has now been transformed by the Aberlour Community Association and serves as a visitor centre and tearoom.

The redundant water fountain set into the wall of the former Aberlour Station building is model D17 cast by the Kennedy Patent Water Meter Co. Ltd. of Kilmarnock, Scotland, now known as Glenfield & Kennedy Ltd.  The maker’s name is stamped onto the backplate; T. Kennedy Patentee / Kilmarnock.

The cast iron backplate has straight sides with moulded arches at the top and bottom of the structure. A bas-relief inscription requests patrons to Keep The Pavement Dry (civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains). A central push button released water from a shell motif spigot into a fluted demi-lune basin. A galvanized cup, originally suspended by a chain, captured drinking water from patented self-closing taps.

Glossary

  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Fluted, a long rounded groove
  • Spigot, a device that controls the flow of liquid

Granby’s Wallace Fountain

Location: Granby, Quebec, Canada

The fountain located in Isabelle Park on the corner of Rue Dufferin and Boulevard Leclerc was brought to Granby from Paris by Pierre-Horace Boivin, Mayor of the city from 1939-1964. During his international travels to promote Granby, the fountain was donated it to the city of Granby by Pierre de Gaulle, Mayor of Paris. It was installed in 1956.

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The base of the forest green fountain is a Greek cross plinth with canted corners from which the pedestal arises. An elaborate console decorated with a scallop shell from which a string of pearls flows separates four panels on which the image of a water serpent is coiled around a trident. The trident is associated with the mythological Poseidon who struck the earth and water sprung up. A scallop is symbolic of baptism and fertility, and pearls represent purity and wisdom.

The cornice contains the name of the manufacturer, Val D’Osne, and a dedication plaque; Donated By The City Of Paris To The City Of Granby / 1956 /The First Fifty Fountains Of This Type Were Generously Given To The City Of Paris In 1872 / By The British Philanthropist Sir Richard Wallace 1818 – 1890 / To Be Placed In The Streets Of The French Capital.

Four caratytids each subtly different in posture and dress, stand with raised arms to support a fish scale dome with fleur-de-lys cornice. The four dolphins with entwined tails at the apex is a symbolic protector of all things related to water.

tourismgranby

The statues in feminine form represent kindness, simplicity, charity and sobriety (at a time when the Temperance Movement was very active). They also represent the 4 seasons: Simplicity symbolizes spring, Charity: summer, Sobriety: autumn and Kindness: winter. The statues differ from each other in several other ways: Simplicity and Sobriety have their eyes closed; whereas the eyes of Kindness and Charity are open. They are also different in the position of the knee and feet, or by the manner in which their tunic is knotted at the bodice.

A stream of water descended from the interior of the dome into a basin. Tin cups were originally chained to the fountains until public hygiene became a prevalent social issue.

Glossary

  • Caryatid, a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar supporting an entablature on her head
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Cornice, a molding or ornamentation that projects from the top of a building
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.

Hickman Park Drinking Fountain

Location: Bilston, West Midlands, England

Sir Alfred Hickman owned local ironworks, collieries and a steel company. He also held positions in Wolverhampton Chamber of Commerce, the Mining Association of Great Britain, the British Iron Trade Association, the Board of Trade and was a Member of Parliament.

He promoted the creating of open spaces in Wolverhampton to aid the welfare of local people and following his death in 1910, he bequeathed the twelve acre Hickman Park to the people of Bilston. His wife, Lady Hickman who officially opened the park on 17 July 1911 donated a bandstand. A cast-iron drinking fountain to commemorate the Coronation of King George V was erected by public subscription.

1910 blackcountry2

Circa 1910. Creative Commons License, Black Country History. Copyright http://blackcountryhistory.org/

The canopied drinking fountain was design number 20, an elaborate 18 feet by 4 feet fountain, sold by Walter Macfarlane & Co, and manufactured at the Saracen Foundry, Possilpark, Glasgow, Scotland. Seated on a three tiered octagonal plinth, the open filigree canopy was supported by eight columns with griffin terminals which were positioned over capitals with foliage frieze above square bases.

The highly decorated drip cusped arches were trimmed with rope mouldings. Cartouches contained within each lunette displayed alternate images of cranes and swans and offered shields for memorial. On each side arch faceplates provided a flat surface for an 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 offered decorative relief on the circular, ribbed dome. The internal capitals contained flowers and statues of owls on enlarged column heads. The structure was surmounted with an eagle finial (#38, 2ft 10ins).

Under the canopy stood the font (design number 18.) A circular shaft, ornamented with water lilies, rested on a wide base with canted corners. Four lion jambs supported four highly decorated quatrefoil basins. Rising from the centre was a pyramid shaped stanchion decorated with swan and bird decoration. A kylix-shaped lamp terminal with four consoles offered drinking cups suspended by chains.

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.

Glossary

  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • 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
  • 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
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • Kylix, a Grecian style drinking cup
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
  • Quatrefoil, a type of decorative framework consisting of a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially-overlapping circles of the same diameter
  • Stanchion, upright bar or post providing support
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

 


Town House Fountain

Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

In an area of Aberdeen known as Old Machar there is a building on the cobbled High Street which was originally the Town House (Town Hall) in the 19th century. A weekly market and a bi-annual fair were held in this location and likely the reason for the erection of a drinking fountain/trough with a single lamp.

The fountain no longer exists and a mercat cross stands in its stead.

The cast iron drinking fountain was design number 174 manufactured by the Sun Foundry in Glasgow. It consisted of a central pedestal flanked by two horse troughs with a lamp centerpiece.

The pedestal with chamfered edge hosted four panels. On three sides a compass cross contained a lion mascaron with self-closing tap from which water spouted into small basins. Drinking water was captured in metal cups suspended on chains. Overflow water which drained into troughs for horses also fed small troughs at ground level for dogs.

A frieze of acanthus leaves was situated beneath the capital upon which there was a lamp standard seated on four decorative consoles. A bulbous base with bas-relief extended into a fluted column with bands. An acroter supported a single glass lantern.

Glossary:

  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Acroter, flat base
  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Chamfer, a beveled edge
  • Compass cross, a cross of equal vertical and horizontal lengths, concentric with and overlaying a circle.
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue