Category Archives: Architecture

Shildon Drinking Fountain

Location: Shildon, Durham, England

The 19th century drinking fountain located in Timothy Hackworth Park was donated by the Committee of the Old Shildon Workingmen’s Club for the enjoyment of the people of Shildon.

Erected in 1914, the canopied drinking fountain is design number 21 (18 feet by 4 feet) from Walter Macfarlane &Co.’s catalog 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.

1965

The structure was listed as a Grade II historic building on 24 February 1986. The structure deteriorated over time and the griffins were stolen.

2001

Photograph taken 13 March 2001 © Mr Alan Bradley LRPS

During refurbishment of the park in 2003, the drinking fountain was also restored. The highly decorated cusped arches are trimmed with rope mouldings which display lunettes with alternate images of cranes and optional memorial shields. The shields in this instance display the Royal George Engine, the first steam engine cheaper than horse power, which was designed by Timothy Hackworth, a pioneering railway engineer. A second shield is inscribed Presented / To The / Inhabitants Of Shildon / By The / Members Of The Old Shildon / Workmen’s Club / November / 1914. There is also a shield commemorating the mining profession which was predominant in the area.

On each side arch faceplates provided a flat surface for 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 offer decorative relief on the circular, open filigree, ribbed dome which is surmounted with a vase and spiked obelisk finial.

Under the canopy stands font, casting number 7. The 5 ft 8ins high font is a single decorative pedestal with four pilasters and descending salamander relief supporting a basin 2 ft 6 ins in diameter. The interior surface of the scalloped edge basin is engraved with decorative relief, and a sculptured vase is terminated by the figure of a crane. Four elaborate consoles originally 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. The cups were removed due to recurring epidemics of Scarlet Fever which spread quickly and was often fatal.

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.

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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

 

Carluke Drinking Fountain

Location: Carluke, Lanarkshire, Scotland

This cast iron drinking fountain was manufactured by the Lion Foundry in Kirkintilloch, Scotland, using a design from the catalogue of George Smith & Co. Casting number 41 is a rectangular structure with a square base resting on a two tier plinth. Projecting demi-lune basins flanked by foliated bas-relief are located on four sides. The central pedestal has chamfered corners with additional bas-relief. A palmette frieze sits beneath the capital. The fountain terminates with an urn and finial, number 255.

Restoration work on the fountain was accomplished as part of StreetScaping in 2006. The plinth was carved from specially selected granite to match the Streetscape paving.

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Glossary

  • 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
  • Demilune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Foliate, decorated with leaves or leaf like motif
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical entablature just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Palmette, a decorative motif resembling the fan shaped leaves of a palm tree
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests

 

Quebec City Fountains

Location: Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Quebec City, with the air of an old European city, is a UNESCO world heritage site. A favourite tourist attraction is the guided horse-drawn carriage ride through the Historic District of Old Quebec. There are several drinking fountain/horse troughs throughout the city to accommodate these working beasts that can drink 49 litres of water per day.

These structures were manufactured by Henry F. Jenks of Pawtucket, R.I. and stand on an octagonal plinth. A fluted circular moulding creates a trough at ground level for the use of dogs. The fluted pedestal with attic base rising from the center of the trough hosts two arched panels for dedication; the coat of arms of Quebec City is represented by a ship in full sail which signifies Quebec’s importance as a seaport, and the full sails symbolize strength and courage.

The capital which supports a large basin 56 inches in diameter capable of holding 100 gallons, is decorated with bas-relief fret. It is 4 feet 3 inches above ground level. A central jamb hosts bas-relief including 4 dolphins that spout water into the basin with the overflow falling to the trough below. The pipes within the fountain were constructed to resist freezing in cold temperatures. The finial is highly decorated with floriated relief and a studded band terminating in a globe with the same detail as the basin.

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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
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fluted Shaft, a long rounded groove decorating the shaft of a column
  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.

Thorntree Well Fountain

Location: Bothwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland

In the 19th century, the town of Bothwell’s water supply came from a series of public wells. Towards the end of the century these wells were being replaced with piped water. One such well named Thorntree, situated at the junction of Green Street and Main Street, was replaced with a drinking fountain in 1889. Public subscription raised funds for the project in 1888.

The fountain was damaged in April 1896 when it was hit by a tramway bus drawn by four horses. “On Monday night, about nine o’clock, while a tramway bus drawn by four horses, and driven by John Sinclair, 109 Broad street, Carlton, Glasgow, was passing through the village on its way to the city, the driver mistaking the road, took the off-side of the fountain at the foot of Green Street, and went crash against the stone wall at the corner opposite. About fifteen feet of the wall gave way, and the driver was thrown from his seat, sustaining an ugly cut on his temple. The passengers escaped with bruises” Hamilton Advertiser 11/4/1896.

The fountain was removed circa 1940s when it became an obstacle to tramway lines and increased motor traffic.

Design #80 manufactured by Walter Macfarlane & Co. in the Saracen´s foundry, Glasgow was 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 central stanchion with attic base supported a central fluted column and the option of a shield for inscription. Cups suspended on chains hung from two projecting consoles in the form of tendrils. A bulbous form engraved with acanthus bas-relief demarcated the transformation of the column into a lamp pillar (#30) with lantern design #208. Yoke maintenance arms were positioned beneath the lantern.

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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