Category Archives: Saracen Foundry

The Lost Drinking Fountains of Wednesbury

Location: Wednesbury, West Midlands, England

On the 21st June 1887, to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, Brunswick Park (designed by William Barron and Son) was opened by the Mayor Alderman Richard Williams, J.P.

Drawings for a fountain were submitted by George Smith & Co. and Walter MacFarlane & Co. The cast iron canopied drinking fountain selected was number 3 from George Smith & Co.’s Sun Foundry and was 9 feet 10 inches high. The structure consisted of four columns with obelisk finials rising from a two tiered plinth to support a domed canopy. The interior column connectors to the dome were adorned with descending alligators and leafy decoration. Alligators were considered a symbol of evil and were hung from the ceilings of cabinets as a reminder of the mortality of humanity.

Arch faceplates offered a flat surface for inscriptions in raised metal letters: civic virtues such as temperance were extolled on many drinking fountains. Over each arch, cartouches within each lunette offered commemorative dedication or crests; the town’s coat of arms is visible in the photograph.

The solid dome with finial covered the fluted pedestal and wide basin containing a standing putto (design #7) holding an urn from which water flowed.

Glossary:

  • 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
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Finial, A sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fluted, A long rounded groove decorating the shaft of a column
  • Obelisk, A tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top
  • Plinth, Flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.
  • Putto, A figure in a work of art depicted as a chubby male child, usually nude

In Kings Hill Park, a fountain was placed on the footpath atop a three tiered plinth. The 6’ 2” drinking fountain, design number 18, was manufactured by Walter Macfarlane’s Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland. It had a wide base in the form of a St. Andrew’s cross with canted corners, on which was set a circular shaft ornamented with water lilies. Four lion jambs supported four highly decorated quatrefoil basins. An obelisk with swan and bird relief rose from the center of the basins. A capped urn 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; owls are symbolic of guardians of the afterlife, and eagles represent immortality.

Glossary

  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • Kylix, a Grecian style drinking cup
  • Obelisk, a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top
  • 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
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

During World War II these cast iron structures, in addition to railings and the cannons from the mount, were removed to recycle metal as a way of assisting in the war effort.


Old Elvet Drinking Fountain and Trough

Location: Old Elvet, Durham, England

In the 19th century a cast iron drinking fountain/horse trough was located outside the Royal County Hotel in Old Elvet.

With regards to the history of this structure, I have been able to discover very little. A volume of the Builder Magazine for 1863 reported that a drinking fountain was situated at the foot of Elvet Bridge. Durham Record Office identifies it as being erected in 1864, and there are numerous links (mostly Pinterest) that state it was presented by Coroner of the Chester Ward, John Graham, and his wife in 1896.

Circa 1911

Design #27 was manufactured by Walter Macfarlane & Co. in the Saracen Foundry, Glasgow. The design 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 provided a drinking trough for horses with small basins for dogs at ground level. The trough was a 6’6” diameter circular cast iron basin supported on legs in the form of horse hooves. Fetlocks transitioned into an acanthus scroll motif at the interface with the trough. 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 supported a central column with flared bases and pilasters. 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). Horses drank from the large basin.

A dedication shield located directly above the consoles was adhered to the fluted shaft. The decorative capital, enriched with acanthus and rosette with a dog tooth frieze, supported a central gas lamp.

Circa 1914

Glossary

  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration. It is symbolic of a problem that has been solved.
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Dog tooth, pyramid shaped carving
  • Fluted Shaft, a long rounded groove decorating the shaft of a column
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure
  • Rosette, a round stylized flower design
  • Stanchion, upright bar, post or frame providing support

Rattan Singh’s Fountain of Water

Location: Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan

I have scoured the internet for information on this fountain and have been unsuccessful. The attached sketch is the only known image of the structure donated by Rattan Singh to provide clean drinking water to the inhabitants of the area. Singh was a Wine and General Merchant based in Anarkali, and the drinking fountain was located near the General Post Office. This information was recorded in a book about Lahore published in 1892.

Lahore: its history … and antiquities. With an account of its modern institutions, inhabitants … customs, &c. … Illustrated, etc

The original building of the General Post Office in Anarkali, completed prior to 1904, was located south of the present Tollinton market and east of the Punjab public library. We can therefore assume that the fountain was installed prior to 1892 and still existed in situ in 1904.

Rattan Singh also donated a drinking well to the area inside the Anarkali Bazaar (it is one of the oldest existing markets, at least 200 years, in Pakistan and Asia). The well was built into a wall faced with marble. It was described as elegant and imposing.

The canopied drinking fountain was 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.

The highly decorated cusped arches are trimmed with rope mouldings which display lunettes with alternate images of cranes and swans, or optional memorial shields. The sketch shows the profile head of what is most likely Rattan Singh in one of the lunettes. On each side arch faceplates provide 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. The internal capitals are floral ornament, and statues of owls on enlarged column heads. The openwork iron canopy 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 support drinking cups on chains. Water flows from a spout into the drinking cup by pressing its edge against a projecting stud below the spout. The self-closing valve allows for operation with only one hand.

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. 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.

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

Whitely Links Drinking Fountain

Location: Whitley Links, Tyneside, England

During the early 19th century, land previously owned by the Prior of Tynemouth was cleared to create a nine hole golf course known as Whitley Links.

Creative Commons License. Source: Discover North Tyneside/ACC 5539 The Links

It is unknown when the drinking fountain situated on a multi-tiered platform was installed. However, in 1907 the Whitley and Monkseaton Urban District Council began to landscape the area including the Empress Gardens, the Sunken Gardens and the Bandstand.

The 6’ 2” drinking fountain, design number 18, was manufactured by Walter Macfarlane’s Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland. It had a wide base in the form of a St. Andrew’s cross with canted corners, on which was set a circular shaft ornamented with water lilies. Four lion jambs supported four highly decorated quatrefoil basins. An obelisk with swan and bird relief rose from the center of the basins. A capped urn 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; owls are symbolic of guardians of the afterlife, and eagles represent immortality.

Glossary

  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • Obelisk, a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top
  • 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
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal