Kirkton Cross Fountain

Location: High Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

It is believed that the drinking fountain which was located outside the old cemetery gates at the area known as Kirkton Cross was installed between 1898 and 1905. Little is known regarding the history of this structure. It no longer exists, and the date of its demise is unknown. Maps from 1910 and 1936 identify the fountain in situ; it may have been removed during the renovation of Main Street in the late 1950s.

1908

Used with permission, Paul Veverka. Source: http://www.blantyreproject.com

Indistinct images on old photographs would appear to indicate that the drinking fountain was number 8 from Walter Macfarlane & Co.’s catalogue. It was 9 feet 6 inches high and was manufactured at the Saracen Foundry at Possilpark in Glasgow. The structure consisted of four columns, from the capitals of which consoles with griffin terminals united with arches formed of decorated mouldings.

In the standard design, rope moulded cartouches within each lunette hosted the image of a crane, 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.’ However, as customization was encouraged and photographs do not offer detail, there is no evidence to confirm what was contained within the the lunettes. (Several similar drinking fountains in Airdrie, Brora and Stranraer contain profile images of Queen Victoria.)

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 with a lantern finial.

Under the canopy stood the font (design number 7), 5 foot 8 inches high. The basin 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 terminal was a crane.

Saracen #8

Design #8 advertisement indicates that any of the fountains can be supplied with a Lamp.

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
  • 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
  • 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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