Tag Archives: Adelaide

T. R. Scarfe Drinking Fountain

Location: Botanic Gardens, Adelaide, South Australia

Mr. & Mrs. Thomas R. Scarfe J.P. were both present for the dedication of a commemorative drinking fountain erected in 1909 under the large Moreton Bay tree near the director’s residence (Summer House on Trellis Walk.) During an informal opening, the fountain was handed over to the chairman of the board of governors and the director.

The fountain replaced a cluster of aloes within the gardens which had been defaced by people carving their names into the thick leaves. Cool water ran continuously, and the overflow ran down the watercourse into the lily pond. The fountain was extremely popular and well used by hundreds of thirsty people who formed lines to fill jugs and bottles.

Casting number 12 was manufactured by McDowall, Steven & Co Ltd, Milton Iron Works, Glasgow, Scotland. The 7’ 6” high structure was originally seated on a two tiered square stone plinth. A pedestal with highly decorated stanchion is flanked on each side with a dolphin, symbolizing guardians of water; and a lion mask (another symbol of guardianship) on all fours sides. Water spouting from lion mascarons was collected in tin cups suspended on chains. The sculptured quatrefoil basins now contain bubblers. The capital supports an urn.


  • Bubbler, a fountain with a tap which ejects a stream of water
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Mask/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
  • 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

Wyatt Fountains

Location: Adelaide, South Australia

Following the opening of the Throndon Reservoir in Adelaide in 1860, piped water was made available to households. Adelaide was a hot, dry, dusty city in which many worked outdoors in the blinding light and heat and water fountains were a priority for humans and horses.

During 1860 the Adelaide Municipal Council debated provision of drinking fountains. In March there was a proposal to install a fountain at the intersection of King William, Currie and Grenfell streets. Also that Hindmarsh, Victoria, and Light Squares would be suitable localities. The motion was sent to the Waterworks committee. ‘Municipal Council. Monday March 19’ (SA Register, 20 March 1860). Tenders were issued for simple and inexpensive drinking fountains which were produced by the G. Wyatt Foundry.

They are to stand about seven feet high, and consist each of an octagonal base relieved by sunken panels, a shaft, also eight-sided, and a simple but suitable cap. At a convenient height on the shaft a curved ornamental spout projects over a small shell-shaped basin, into which it is proposed to have a tiny stream of water continually falling from the spout, with a view of presenting to the thirsty wayfarer the pure element in the coolest possible condition. The water will on overflowing fall into a larger basin below, where dogs and other ‘inferior creatures’ privileged to be at large within the city may quench their thirst without let or hindrance.’ (SA Register, 1861)

The Council installed 13 of these fountains on Tuesday 12 February 1861.

  1. South Adelaide – Victoria Square, near the entrance opposite to the government offices
  2. South Adelaide – Victoria Square at the entrance to the southern portion of the square in the produce market;
  3. South Adelaide – At the City Bridge road, North Terrace;
  4. South Adelaide – King William Street, near the Bank of Australasia at the intersection of King Wm, Currie and Grenfell streets;
  5. South Adelaide – Hindley Street, corner of Leigh Street;
  6. South Adelaide – Rundle Street, corner of Gawler Place;
  7. South Adelaide – Light Square (near the northern entrance in each case);
  8. South Adelaide – Hindmarsh Square (near the northern entrance in each case);
  9. South Adelaide – Hurtle Square (near to the southern entrance in each case)
  10. South Adelaide – Whitmore Square (near to the southern entrance in each case)
  11. North Adelaide – At Wellington Square, near southern entrance;
  12. North Adelaide – O’Connell Street, corner of Childers Street
  13. North Adelaide – Kermode Street, opposite to the Scotch Thistle.
Corner of Rundle and Gawler Place 1872. No known copyright restrictions.  Source: http://images.slsa.sa.gov.au/mpcimg/02000/B1908.htm

Corner of Rundle and Gawler Place 1872. No known copyright restrictions.
Source: http://images.slsa.sa.gov.au/mpcimg/02000/B1908.htm


Townsend Drinking Fountain

Location: Glenelg, Adelaide, South Australia

A drinking fountain erected in Colley Reserve was presented to the Mayor by William Townsend, Esq., M.P. The fountain was erected at the centre of the reserve running parallel with the northern seawall and the HMS Buffalo cannon. It was officially opened by Mrs. Townsend on 20 October, 1877, who stated, ‘I now declare the fountain open to the Mayor, burgesses and the public generally, and as we learn from the best authority that cold water is to the thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country, so often while people are drinking the water here they will see the mail coming in bringing news from the far countries.’

The fountain was relocated to the front garden of Partridge House which was recorded as a State Heritage Place in the SA Heritage Register on November 1986.

In its original location drinking fountain number 8, from Walter Macfarlane & Co.’s catalogue, was seated on a two tiered plinth. The structure with a gas lit lantern was 9 feet 6 inches high and consisted of four columns, from the capitals of which consoles with griffin terminals unite with arches formed of decorated mouldings (the griffins no longer exist on the structure).

Rope moulded cartouches contained within each lunette host the image of a crane, and an open bible displaying a verse from St. John’s Gospel chapter 4 verse 14, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.’ Crests within the lunettes offer dedication and coats of arms. On two of the sides provision was made for receiving an inscription using raised metal letters; whilst on the other two sides was the useful monition, Keep the pavement dry. Civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains.

The structure was surmounted by an open filigree dome; the original finial being a gas lit lantern. A photograph shows that the finial was later replaced by a crown with a pattée cross. However, the current structure now contains a lantern very similar to the original casting.

Under the canopy the original the font (design number 7) was 5 foot 8 inches high. The basin which had a scalloped edge and decorative relief was supported by a single decorative pedestal with four pilasters and four descending salamanders, a symbol of courage and bravery. A central urn with four consoles offered drinking cups suspended by chains. The terminal was a crane. The supply of water was replaced with a bubbler. The font’s terminal which was a crane is no longer present on the structure.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Griffins are symbolic of guardians of priceless possessions, salamanders display bravery and courage that cannot be extinguished by fire, and cranes are recognized as a symbol of vigilance.


  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Pattée cross, a cross with arms that narrow at the centre and flare out at the perimeter
  • 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