Location: Bilston, West Midlands, England
Sir Alfred Hickman owned local ironworks, collieries and a steel company. He also held positions in Wolverhampton Chamber of Commerce, the Mining Association of Great Britain, the British Iron Trade Association, the Board of Trade and was a Member of Parliament.
He promoted the creating of open spaces in Wolverhampton to aid the welfare of local people and following his death in 1910, he bequeathed the twelve acre Hickman Park to the people of Bilston. His wife, Lady Hickman who officially opened the park on 17 July 1911 donated a bandstand. A cast-iron drinking fountain to commemorate the Coronation of King George V was erected by public subscription.
The canopied drinking fountain was design number 20, an elaborate 18 feet by 4 feet fountain, sold by Walter Macfarlane & Co, and manufactured at the Saracen Foundry, Possilpark, Glasgow, Scotland. Seated on a three tiered octagonal plinth, the open filigree canopy was supported by eight columns with griffin terminals which were positioned over capitals with foliage frieze above square bases.
The highly decorated drip cusped arches were trimmed with rope mouldings. Cartouches contained within each lunette displayed alternate images of cranes and swans and offered shields for memorial. On each side arch faceplates provided a flat surface for an 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 offered decorative relief on the circular, ribbed dome. The internal capitals contained flowers and statues of owls on enlarged column heads. The structure was surmounted with an eagle finial (#38, 2ft 10ins).
Under the canopy stood the font (design number 18.) A circular shaft, ornamented with water lilies, rested on a wide base with canted corners. Four lion jambs supported four highly decorated quatrefoil basins. Rising from the centre was a pyramid shaped stanchion decorated with swan and bird decoration. A kylix-shaped lamp terminal with four consoles offered drinking cups suspended by chains.
Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Griffins are symbolic of guardians of priceless possessions; lions are symbolic of guardianship; doves are synonymous with peace, and owls are symbolic of guardians of the afterlife.
- Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
- 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
- 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
- Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
- Kylix, a Grecian style drinking cup
- Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
- 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, upright bar or post providing support
- Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal