Location: Larkhall, Lanarkshire, Scotland
I have been unable to discover when this drinking fountain was erected, and if Glenview Memorial Park is the original location. However, per photographic evidence it was in this location in 1929.
The canopied drinking fountain located in Glenview Memorial Park 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.
The highly decorated cusped arches are trimmed with rope mouldings which displayed lunettes with alternate images of cranes and swans, or optional memorial shields such as the Larkhall Victualling Society Limited. 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 was originally surmounted with a vase and spiked obelisk finial.
Under the canopy stood font casting number 7. The 5ft 8ins high font was 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 was engraved with decorative relief, and a sculptured vase was terminated by the figure of a crane. Four elaborate consoles 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.
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.
As part of the refurbishment of Glenview Memorial Park a mosaic was created on the octagonal plinth of the cast iron drinking fountain. The mosaic was created by artist Alan Potter focusing the design on the historical, cultural and social development of Larkhall village and its environs. The icons are accompanied by brief descriptions in text set around the time-line: The Beaker people, The Damnoni Celts, The Romans, The early Christians, The Hamilton Family, The Reformation, The Covenanters and the Friendly Societies.
The central portion of the design comprises images which are of particular significance to Larkhall in its development since the mid-18th century.
- The early introduction of Building Societies allowing people to own their own properties (“Bonnet Lairds”).
- Fruit growing in the Clyde Valley.
- Home weaving with a handloom and shuttles.
- Portrait of Robert Smillie, a miner, trade unionist who defended the rights of miners around the UK, a social reformer who co-founded the Labour Party in Scotland, President of the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain, and a symbolic broken chain and an overhead lamp symbolizing enlightenment.
- A miner working in a low, cramped seam, his headlamp echoing the one above Smillie’s portrait.
- Coal loaded on to trucks being taken away to power the heavy industries of Britain.
- The steam train crosses the viaduct, tallest in Scotland at 170’ high, over Morgan’s Glen and the River Avon.
At the centre is a circular icon showing a lark ascending over a hill, the possible origin of the name Larkhall. However the name appears as Lakhouse in Timothy Pont’s Blaeu Atlas of Scotland completed in 1596 and published in 1654. It was also known in the 19th century as Laverockhall (Laverockha’) referring to a skylark and a wet boggy area.
The mosaic was unveiled in October 2008 by artist Alan Potter and the Larkhall Heritage Group. Many thanks to Alan Potter who supplied me with the mosaic information.
- 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