Location: Aberdare, Wales
A drinking fountain donated by Sir W. T. Lewis was installed at Commercial Place to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee (60 years) of Queen Victoria who was the head of a realm of 450 million people stretching across every continent.
The fountain was officially dedicated on 18 November 1897 by the wife of Sir William Lewis. It was a grand affair with bunting, drooping swags and flags decorating the area of Commercial Place. Members of the Aberdare District Council, tradesmen and the Aberdare Male Voice Choir were in attendance. Lady Lewis was presented with an inscribed gold cup from which she drank the first cup of water from the fountain. In honour of the occasion the area was renamed Victoria Square.
The structure most likely became obsolete due to advances in sanitation and the advent of the motor vehicle. It is believed it was stored in the council yard from which it disappeared.
Many ornamental iron decorations were destroyed after being requisitioned during the Second World War, as raw material for the war industries and to boost public morale. In Britain, the ill-considered scheme resulted in the unnecessary destruction of much of Britain’s ornamental street furniture, as the material was mostly unsuitable for use in manufacturing munitions and was consequently consigned to rust away in scrap yards around the country.
This cast iron structure manufactured by the Coalbrookdale Iron Company was seated on a rectangular plinth with rounded edges, and consisted of a trough with a drinking fountain centerpiece. A font centrally positioned split the trough into two animal trenches decorated with floral lunettes on panels.
A step to assist children was positioned beneath a demi-lune font on each side of the structure. A lion mascaron within a lunette spouted a continual flow of water into the basin which was then directed to the small troughs below for the use of dogs.
A bust of Queen Victoria was situated within four Corinthian columns with attic base extending from short pedestals with floral decoration. Directly above the abacus was a central fluted lamp pillar with two entwined dolphins at the base surmounted with a glass globe illuminated by a gas mantle.
Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Lions were acknowledged as guardians and dolphins are guardians of all things water related.
- Abacus, at the top of a capital, a thick rectangular slab of stone that serves as the flat, broad surface
- Attic base, a column base with two rings
- Corinthian columns, a fluted shaft with flowers and leaves at the capital
- Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
- Fluted, a long rounded groove
- Gas Mantle, a fibrous bag impregnated with minerals which offered a bright white light from a small flame.
- Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
- Mask/Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
- Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.
- Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal