Author Archives: HIS

Saracen Wall Fountains

Wall fountains not surprisingly required a supporting wall. These decorative drinking fountains were set into the wall to form unobtrusive niches – a design that was very popular on railway station platforms. Although they provided a necessary service in a period of history when clean drinking water was not readily accessible, there generally appeared to be so little commotion at the erection of these structures that their individual history has been lost. The Saracen Foundry owned by Walter Macfarlane & Co. offered several models.

Casting number 15 (2ft. 9ins. x 1ft. 9ins.) is a wall mounted drinking fountain with a fluted demi-lune basin and egg and dart rim. An arch faceplate bears the inscription Keep the Pavement Dry. The interior of the arch contains a shell lunette from which a tap protrudes. Two doves represent the symbolism of the spirit drinking from the water of life. A single drinking cup on a chain is suspended on a decorative console.

Examples of this model located in Bridgnorth, England; Clevedon, England; and Shanklin, Isle of Wight have previously been posted.

Casting #16 (3 ft. 3 ins. high and 2 ft. 7 ins. wide) is a wall mounted drinking fountain in the form of a round arch trimmed with highly decorated fret detail and rope moulding. The recessed interior of the arch contains a shell lunette with a tap which issued water into a fluted demi-lune basin. The fountain is surmounted with a palmette finial and a ring from which a single drinking cup was suspended on a chain. See previous posts: Innerwick and Peebles in Scotland, and Ramsey, England.

The example below located at Dumfries Railway Station on the northbound platform is functional. A second example on the southbound platform has no tap. The station and all parts thereof are a category B listing as designated by Historic Environment Scotland.

The model below is an  extended version of Design No. 16 with a ground drainage basin. An inscription in raised letters is located above the tap; Thank God From Whom All Blessings Flow.

16-Creetown

CREETOWN, DUMFRIES & GALLOWAY, SCOTLAND. Used with permission, John P. Bolton, Scottish Ironwork Foundation. Source: https://ironworks.scran.ac.uk/database/record.php?usi=000-002-001-058-C&scache=4ljc4ahiul&searchdb=ironworks_scran

Casting number 17 from Walter Macfarlane’s catalogue has already been blogged. See Saracen 17 Wall fountains identifying models in Colchester, Falstone and Milford Haven in England; Penarth and Portcawl in Wales; and Rathdrum, Ireland.

Saracen #17

Casting #9 is a small drinking fountain measuring less than 2ft. wide and 2ft. high. It has a plain backplate devoid of decoration in the form of a shield. A spigot emerges from an embellishment in the shape of a diamond with dog tooth frieze. A drinking cup was originally attached to a chain, and run off water was captured in a plain demi lune basin.

This example is located in Gigha, Argyll & Bute, Scotland opposite the post office and is in an advanced state of rust. It is situated almost at ground level on a stone wall, adjacent to entrance gates to the Gigha Church of Scotland.

Casting #5 is a 4ft. tall cast iron plate. The drinking fountain on the wall of the Guardbridge Hotel (previously the station house) bids you to Keep The Pavement Dry. An arch shape with quatrefoil bas relief displays the acronym for North British Railway, NBR. A spigot protruding from the same point furnished water into a single drinking cup on a chain suspended from a decorative console (no longer present in these images). A decorative flourish is applied as an enrichment. The example at Leuchars Railway Station no longer exists.

An example of modification to design No 5 is located on the boundary wall at the current Social Services Department (formerly Abbotshall Primary School). It was recorded as a C listing on Historic Environment Scotland on 27 February 1997.

Glossary:

    • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
    • Console, a decorative bracket support element
    • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
    • Dog tooth frieze, pyramid shaped carving
    • 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
    • Fret, running or repeated ornament
    • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
    • Palmette, a decorative motif resembling the fan shaped leaves of a palm tree
    • 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
    • Spigot, a device that controls the flow of liquid

     


Henrietta Fountain

Location: Girvan, Ayrshire, Scotland

The corner of Stair Park on Henrietta Street once hosted an attractive drinking fountain surmounted by a female statue.

The fountain, erected on a large four tier plinth, was design number 19 from the catalogue of Walter Macfarlane & Co. The wide base was in the form of a St. Andrew’s cross on which was set a circular shaft ornamented with water lilies. Four lion jambs supported four highly decorated quatrefoil basins. Symbolism was popular in Victorian times; lions are symbolic of guardianship.

The stanchion and central column were decorated with floral relief. Four consoles protruded from the column to suspend drinking cups on chains. The capital supported the finial, a statue of a female figure holding a leaf above her head.

Unfortunately the drinking fountain and its history are lost.

Glossary

  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • 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, an upright bar or post providing support

 

 


Fort William Fountain/Horse Trough

Location: Fort William, West Highlands, Scotland

Fort William was supplied with incandescent street lighting in 1896. Two lights were incorporated into horse troughs one of which also contained a drinking fountain for humans. Photographic images show it at the junction of High Street and Station Square on March 5, 1897. It was no longer present in photographs dated 1956.

The structure was design #80 manufactured by Walter Macfarlane & Co. in the Saracen´s foundry, Glasgow. It was advertised as 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. It was 12ft 9ins high providing 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 attic base supported a central fluted column and the option of a shield for inscription. Four projecting consoles suspended cups on chains that allowed humans to drink from spouting water (the water flow was operated with two bib valves which released water when pressed). A bulbous form engraved with acanthus bas-relief demarcated the transformation of the column into a lamp pillar with lantern. Yoke maintenance arms were positioned beneath the lantern.

Glossary

  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Fluted Shaft, a long rounded groove decorating the shaft of a column
  • Stanchion, an upright bar or post providing support
  • Yoke maintenance arms, the bars near the top of the street light which supported the lamplighter’s ladder

 


St. Paul’s Church Drinking Fountain

Location: Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, England

This mid 19th century cast iron drinking fountain is set into a niche of the sandstone wall at the Church of St. Paul in Whitley Bay.

The church was built on land donated by the Duke of Northumberland in 1864. The fountain was installed at the cost of the builder and gifted to the inhabitants of Whitley Bay. The Duchess of Northumberland, Charlotte Florentia Percy, presided over the ceremony. She was once a governess of the future Queen Victoria and died two years after the dedication of the fountain. She is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Prior to the restoration of the fountain by Team Force Restoration of Blyth, the fountain was in an advanced state of decay which obliterated details required for refurbishment. A roundel contains a crescent most likely in recognition of the Duke and Duchess’ family crest.

A similar design located in the wall at the war museum on Burdon Road in Sunderland has a roundel which bears the coat of arms of the city of Sunderland. This item has been researched and can be viewed at https://memorialdrinkingfountains.wordpress.com/2017/08/18/fawcett-street-station-drinking-fountain/

The manufacturer of this drinking fountain is unknown. The recessed arch once hosted a demi-lune basin from which water was dispersed into the basin via a spigot situated in the interior of the arch. It was most likely gathered into a metal cup suspended on a chain. The arch faceplate hosts a roundel bearing a crescent surmounted by a scroll design.

The fountain was recorded as a Grade II Historic Building on 19 February 1986.

Glossary

  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Roundel, a small circular decorative plate
  • Spigot, a device that controls the flow of liquid

 


Chief Si?al Fountain

Location: Seattle, WA, USA

A drinking fountain located between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Renton (a suburb of Seattle) was presented to the city in 1910 by the local fire department. The idea for an ornamental watering fountain for animals came in 1908 as the City of Seattle was making improvements for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909. At this time James Wehn was sculpting a full length statue of Chief Seattle of the Suquamish tribe to be erected at Tilikum Place. The city commissioned Wehn to make a bronze cast of the bust to be set in the fountain. It became the first sculpture of Chief Seattle to be sited in Seattle. The drinking fountain sculpture is currently located in Pioneer Square.

Inscriptions show the manufacturer: Cast by/Cascade Fixture Co. and the foundry, Star Foundry – Seattle, WA. The sculptor is recognized as James Wehn, and the subject, Chief Of The Suquamish. The fountain itself has been restored, while the statue remains original.

The Chief was of valuable service to white settlers who pronounced his name as Seattle. The misrepresentation of his name is explained on this website  A stone monument in the Indian burial ground at the west end of Main Street identifies Chief Seattle’s grave. An inscription states, Seattle, Chief Of The Suqamish And Allied Tribes, Died June 7, 1866, The Firm Friend Of The Whites And For Him The City Of Seattle Was Named By Its Founders. On scout anniversary day in late February, a ceremony is conducted by Boy Scouts alongside his grave.

The fountain is seated within a circular basin and the base is rectangular in shape with two small troughs for dogs. The bust of Chief Seattle sits atop a representation of rock/mountain which rises from within a large basin decorated with reeds. A bubbler type tap located at the back of the statue delivered water to humans and a spigot originally jutting out beneath the basin allowed for the release of overflow water.  An image dated 1936 appears to show a plaque which no longer exists beneath the bust of the Chief.

Chief

Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives #10642

A similar fountain minus the bust of the Chief was installed at 7th and Jackson in Seattle on 27 March 1911. It no longer exists.

4075303647_52196dd05e_o

Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives #52097

 

 


Hebe Fountain

Location: Salem, Ohio, USA

The drinking fountain once located at South Broadway Avenue near State Street was installed on 22 August 1889. Twenty two years later it was removed due to the impending Youngstown and Ohio River Railroad which required the fountain’s removal to improve traffic flow. In addition, public awareness of the spread of Yellow Fever and Typhoid from communal water sources heralded the elimination of drinking fountains.

It was removed on 28 November 1911. A report in the Salem News stated that several people wept when the statue surmounting the fountain was taken down. The statue of Hebe was never seen again. It is likely that it was recycled as many ornamental iron decorations were requisitioned during the Second World War as raw material for the war industries.

The fountain was manufactured by J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York. The structure was seated on an octagonal stone plinth. It consisted of a single pedestal with attic base and canted corners surmounted by a 5’ bronze statue. Eight arched cornices contained dolphin mascarons, symbolic of guardians of water. Four of the dolphins spouted water into demi-lune fluted basins. Water was retrieved by tin drinking cups suspended on chains which required replacement in 1891.

An attic base supported a short column containing 4 inset panels bounded by pilasters. The panels offered bas-relief with the option of a dedication plaque.

The capital supported a statue of Hebe, a Greek goddess, based on the 1806 sculpture by Berthel Thorvaldsen. The daughter of Zeus and Hera, Hebe is the Greek goddess of Youth and Spring, and proffers the cup of immortality at the table of the gods. The statue is classically dressed in flowing robes gathered at the waist. Her head is tilted down and to the left, and her hair is held by a headband or ribbon. Her left leg is bent and her weight is on her right leg. (This stance is called contrapposto, where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed.) She gazes at a raised cup in her left hand while holding a pitcher beside her right thigh.

Glossary

  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Contrapposto, stance where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed
  • Cornice, a molding or ornamentation that projects from the top of a building
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Fluted, a long rounded groove
  • 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
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.

Max Wagner Fountain

Location: Nantucket, MA, USA

The drinking fountain located at Max Wagner Square was anonymously donated to the town in 1885 and installed at the top of Main Street. In 1893 at the same time as the street lighting was installed it was relocated to bottom of the Main Street in Town Square and disconnected from the water main. The cobblestones which pave the street were brought to the island as ballast in ships.

books_nantucket

The square and the drinking fountain were dedicated in 1932 to the memory of Lieutenant Max Wagner, who lost his life in the Spanish-American War. Born in 1866 in Charleston, South Carolina he moved to Nantucket and married Jennie Macy, a descendant of the very first of the English founding families on Nantucket. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, Wagner already a U. S. Army veteran re-enlisted, serving first in Puerto Rico and then in the Philippines where he was killed in 1900.

A sign mounted on the lamp pillar identifies Lieut. Max Wagner Sq. U.S.W.V.

The drinking fountain is unique in that it has not been removed, as so many others around the country were, to improve flow of traffic. Vehicles on Main Street are directed around the structure which the Nantucket Garden Club maintains with seasonal flowers and greens.

The drinking fountain/horse trough is identified as design #3 for man and beast in Henry F. Jenks’ foundry catalog. The 24 feet high structure manufactured in cast iron consists of a solid base with an annular channel for use as a dog trough.

HF Jenks #5

A pedestal with attic base hosts arched panels for dedication or bas-relief enrichment. A movable panel in one side offered access to plumbing. A circular horse trough standing 4 feet 3 inches above ground level was a comfortable height for horses to drink and had the capacity to hold a barrel of water (42 gallons).

The centre of the basin contains a jamb from which dolphin mascarons spouted water and drinking cups were attached. Waste water was directed to the dog trough at street level. This design prevented contagious distemper.

The fountain was provided with self closing faucets and the pipes within were constructed to resist freezing in cold temperatures. Fountains were supplied both with and without an ice box attachment as desired. An ice box was placed near the sidewalk underground, which was provided with coils of tin lined pipe on which ice was placed to cool the water flowing through the coils to the outlet of the fountain.

The fluted lamp pillar originally terminating in a gas lantern now hosts an electric bulb.

Glossary:

  • Annular; circular, ring shaped
  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Fluted Shaft, a long rounded groove decorating the shaft of a column
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • 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