Monthly Archives: April 2018

Williamson Park Drinking Fountain

Location: Lancaster, Lancashire, England

A park designed in the 1870s for John Williamson Snr. was further developed by his son and donated to the city in 1881. James Williamson Jnr., Lord Ashton, paid for further embellishments around 1904 and 1909 including the Ashton Memorial, a bandstand, the Greg Astronomical Observatory and an orangery/palm house (the bandstand and observatory no longer exist).

frith 1912

Circa 1912. Canopied fountain is visible on far left of image. Source:

I can find no information on the drinking fountain that was located at the south end of the park near the lake. I am making an assumption that it was also installed between the years 1904-1909; the date on which it was demolished is also unknown. However, the double tiered plinth on which it stood still exists on the pathway (seems strange to leave it in-situ when it is an obstruction to traffic on the path).

pre 1909 facebook

Circa 1904

The cast iron fountain was design #3 manufactured by the Sun Foundry, Glasgow, Scotland. Four columns with obelisk finials rose from a two tiered plinth to support a solid domed canopy. The finial took the form of a stylized urn from which rose a pilaster and orb. 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. Lunettes above each arch offered tablets for dedications. An indistinct crest can be seen – perhaps the City of Lancaster’s crest.

A fluted pedestal with a wide basin (2 feet 8 inches in diameter) contained the statue of a putto holding an oar seated on an upturned urn. This design advertised as pattern #8 was identified as ‘boy with a paddle and urn’. Water was distributed via the urn and retrieved with a cup suspended on a chain. At ground level, a small trough supplied water to dogs, and a stamp identified Sun Foundry / Glasgow.

Sun #3_putto

Sun Foundry #3 with putto and paddle


  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • Faceplates
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fluted, a long rounded groove
  • 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.
  • Putto (plural is Putti), a figure in a work of art depicted as a chubby male child, usually nude


Cornwall’s Drinking Fountains

Location: Cornwall, ON, Canada

In 1892 a chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) opened in Cornwall. This organization which encouraged abstinence from alcohol was also concerned with animal rights. In order to achieve this fundamental principle they were pioneers in donating combination drinking fountains/troughs with fresh drinking water for man and beast.

In 1908 a fountain erected at Fourth Street West and Pitt Street was presented to the town by the W.C.T.U. It was still operational in the 1940s. A dedication plaque was engraved, Presented To The / Town Of Cornwall / By The Ladies / Of The / W.C.T.U. / 1908.

4th Pitt 1908_ccmuseum

Note that the base of the structure has been encased in concrete, concealing some of the details. Image Source:—-our-place-in-canadas-150#

Another drinking fountain was installed the following year (1909) in front of the old post office at Second and Pitt streets. The September 17, 1909 edition of the Cornwall Standard reported: The water was turned on at the new drinking fountain at the Post Office Cornwall (Pitt and 2nd)…and is now available for quenching the thirst of both man and beast. The new fountain, which replaces the one that has done service for a number of years, was presented to the town by the ladies of the W.C.T.U., who are having one placed at the North End, on Pitt St. The new fountain is larger and of more ornate design. The ladies of the W.C.T.U. are entitled to the thanks of the community for their thoughtful and generous gift.

2nd pitt 1909-post office_cornwall postcards36pennant

The Court House at the intersection of Water and Pitt streets was also the location of a drinking fountain. It was dedicated to the memory of Judge Jacob Farrand Pringle who had served as Mayor of Cornwall in 1855 and 1856. As the date of its installation is unknown it is assumed that it was erected after his death in 1901. This drinking fountain differed from the others and photographic evidence is not sufficient to establish the manufacturer or design.

courthouse_cornwall postcards

Court House at Water and Pitt Streets. Fountain is visible at the left edge of image.

The two cast iron drinking fountains at 2nd and 4th streets were manufactured by J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York. Seated on a square base with a small demi-lune basin at ground level for dogs to drink, the pedestal contained a panel on each of four sides decorated with an orb surrounded by flourish. Each corner was bound with a highly decorated pilaster. A large trough for horses jutted into the street.

The bottom edge of the square central column was decorated with egg and dart moulding. Tall rectangular inset panels contained the head of a Naiad. In Greek mythology, a Naiad was a female water nymph who guarded fountains, wells, and other bodies of fresh water. The fourth panel hosted a basin for human use, and contained a lion mascaron which spouted water to be captured using a tin cup suspended on a chain.

A frieze of flora decorated the capital which originally supported an elaborately decorated urn capped with an orb and pineapple finial (symbolic of friendship and hospitality).


  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Egg and dart, a carving of alternating oval shapes and dart or arrow shapes
  • 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
  • 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
  • Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure

Bishopsgate Lost Fountain

Location: London, England

This post is related to a ‘lost’ drinking fountain once located in the area of Bishopsgate in London. There were several drinking fountains located near or on the railings of St. Botolph church, and two of them were donated by Charles Gilpin M.P.

A record sourced from Historic England listing 1359170: Drinking Fountain 1866; 2 stone piers flanking entrance to churchyard from Bishopsgate. Stone with pink granite bands and bowls beneath niches decorated with masks. Brass fittings. South fountain reads “The Gift of the Churchwardens 1866” on side elevation. North fountain reads “The Gift of C Gilpin Esq MP. 1866”

The cast iron drinking fountain which no longer exists  was located in close proximity to the parish church of St Boltoph (I have been unable to discover the specific location). It was presented by Mr. Charles Gilpin M.P. on Wed 11thJuly 1860 to the ward of Bishopsgate in which he resided. Mr. Metcalfe Hopgood of the Common Council took the first draught of water and proposed the health of her Majesty Queen Victoria.

Gilpin was a Quaker and a publisher who was involved in radical politics. He campaigned for parliamentary, economic and land reform as well as the abolition of slavery and capital punishment. The gift of a drinking fountain to encourage the abstinence of alcohol and give an alternative to the thirsty passersby was an acknowledgment to his membership in the Temperance movement which he joined as a youth.

The fountain was cast by Coalbrookdale Company of Shropshire from a design by William and Thomas Wills of Suffolk. The brothers were noted sculptors in the mid 19th. century and best known for their designs of drinking fountains.


The cast iron frame was in the form of a stylized shield with curved and winged edges. The top part of the shield, in the form of an ogee arch, contained a sculpture of winged cherubs resting upon clouds. The design offered a legend beneath the cherub, He Opened The Rock And / The Waters Gushed Out / They Ran In The Dry Places / Like A River / Psalm CV 41.

A recessed round arch contained the drinking well and the name of the sculptors, Wills Brothers Sculpt London. Water was dispersed into the basin via a spigot concealed behind a clam shell decoration situated in the interior of the arch. Two cups were suspended on chains on each side of the arch. The foundry’s name is engraved on the edge of the basin, Coalbrookdale Co.

Each side of the arch was decorated with reeds and foliage. On the left side was a robed male figure with long beard standing contrapposto. In his left hand was a rod resting on the cusp of the arch. This was a depiction of Moses striking the rock to release gushing water. On the right of the drinking well was the robed figure of a woman offering a basin of water to a naked child.

Below is an example of the same design still in existence in the town of Hythe in Kent.


Circa 2012. Creative Commons License, Nilfanion. Source:


  • Contrapposto, stance where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed
  • Ogee arch, an arch with a concave apex


W.C.T.U. Strasburg Fountain

Location: Strasburg, Pennsylvania, USA

On February 5, 1900 a request to erect a drinking fountain for Man, Beast and Dog at the center of the intersection of Main Street and Decatur Street Centre Square was granted by the council to the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. The fountain, funded by subscriptions, was erected on June 13, 1900 and the dedication ceremony took place on June 29, 1900.


Almost two decades later, the fountain was damaged when a heavy wagon collided with it and water service was discontinued. It remained in situ for several years until it was decided that it was an obstacle to increased vehicle traffic. It was removed during the week of July 3-7, 1922. This allowed trolley tracks which had to be curved around the fountain (for the opening of the trolley line between Lancaster and Strasburg) to be re-laid in a straight line through the square.

strasburg heritage society2

Source: Strasburg Heritage Society

The manufacturer of the cast iron drinking is unknown. The overall structure resembles a fountain in Slatington PA, identified by the National Register of Historic Places as manufactured by E. T. Barnum Company of Detroit, Michigan; yet the Strasburg fountain also bears a strong resemblance to castings created by J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York.

The fountain seated on a limestone base weighed approximately 2,500 pounds. The two tiered octagonal pedestal decorated with bands of foliate frieze and horizontal reeding supported a large gadrooned trough for the use of horses. A small trough was located at ground level for dogs and smaller animals.

Capture horse

Photograph compliments of Fred Lauzus

A spigot projected from a bas-relief rosette supplied water to a fluted basin for human consumption. A dedication plaque was attached above the rosette; Erected By The Efforts Of The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, 1900.



A cornice of egg and dart moulding was located beneath the capital which supported an urn flanked by two elaborate consoles originally supporting tear drop shaped electric globes. The urn appears to be a modification of a casting offered by J.L. Mott. A rod with three additional lamps extended from the highly decorated urn capped with a pineapple finial (symbolic of friendship and hospitality).

Capture urn

Note: I would like to thank Fred Lauzus for sharing his research and success in his long term goal of recreating this ‘lost’ drinking fountain.


  • 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
  • Console
  • Cornice, a molding or ornamentation that projects from the top of a building
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Egg and dart, a carving of alternating oval shapes and dart or arrow shapes
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fluted, a long rounded groove
  • Foliate, decorated with leaves or leaf like motif
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Gadrooning, a decorative motif consisting of convex curves in a series
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Reeding, a regular series of concave grooves or convex ridges
  • Rosette, a round stylized flower design
  • Spigot, a device that controls the flow of liquid