Tag Archives: Birmingham

Austin Lines Drinking Fountain

Location: Handsworth Park, Birmingham, England

When the park opened in 1888, it was named Victoria Park. The grounds were originally part of the Grove Estate containing 20 acres of gardens, aviaries, vineries, fishpond, conservatory, and a tennis lawn which became a bowling green when the land was converted into a public park following a contentious issue that took several years to settle. A major proponent of the park was Councillor Austin B. Lines who donated the drinking fountain.

The original location of the fountain, known as the Umbrella,  was east of the Grove (Park House) across from the bowling green. It was moved to its current location in the 1950s.

The canopied drinking fountain is number 21 from Walter Macfarlane’s catalog manufactured at the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland. Seated on a two tiered octagonal plinth, the canopy is supported by eight columns with griffin terminals. The highly decorated fret detail arches are trimmed with rope mouldings. Rope moulded roundels contained within each lunette offer shields for memorial. A dedication shield can be seen in old photographs. The remaining lunettes contained cranes.

The highly decorated cusped arches are trimmed with rope mouldings which display lunettes with images of a crane and a memorial shield. 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. The ribbed dome is open filigree decorated with dove and flower relief. The internal capitals are floral ornament, and the internal shields display lion masks. A kylix obelisk finial is at the apex.

Doves and flowers offer decorative relief on the circular, open filigree, ribbed dome. The internal capitals contain flowers.. 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.

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
  • 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

Angel Drinking Fountains

There are two angel fountains that I am aware of in England.

Manufactured by the English iron foundry, Coalbrookdale Company, pattern number 101 is a wall mounted drinking fountain.

A sculptured wreath with a recessed scalloped basin is surmounted by the upper torso of a winged angel holding an open book inscribed with a verse from the New Testament: John chapter IV, verses 13 & 14: Whosever drinketh of this water shall thirst again but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give shall never thirst. The recessed interior of the fountain is decorated with a shell surrounded by reeds.


The Angel Fountain erected in 1850 was originally located at Christ Church at the junction of Colmore Row and New Street in Birmingham. When the church was demolished in 1899, the fountain was moved to St. Philips Cathedral in Colmore Row. The fountain is mounted in a rectangular column with acroteria within the south western perimeter of the Cathedral grounds. Originally drinking cups were suspended on chains from two circular mounts on each side of the wreath.

A plaque beneath the fountain describes a brief history of the fountain and its restoration. This drinking fountain originally stood outside Christ Church at the junction of Colmore Row and New Street and after the demolition of the church in 1899 it was re-sited in this location. In 1988 the fountain was restored by the Planning Committee of the City Council, the Cathedral Close Community and Messrs. Wragge and Company, Solicitors.

A small step stone is located directly in front of the fountain as an aid to smaller persons. Two semi circular basins inserted on either side of the fountain at ground level are for the use of dogs.

The fountain was listed an English Heritage grade II architectural or historic interest building in 1982.









The Angel drinking fountain set into the east wall of St Nicholas church in Bristol was located at one of the city’s busiest road junctions: High Street & Bristol Bridge. It was erected in 19th November 1859 by the Iron Merchants of Bristol. This lost fountain is swathed in mystery as there is much confusion and dispute as to what happened to it.

It has been reported that during the early months of World War II it was removed for safety.

Another source claims that it was destroyed during the war. St. Nicholas Church was utilized as an air raid shelter and was subjected to many enemy bombs which destroyed the church and the surrounding buildings on the High Street. The ensuing fire destroyed furnishings and documents, and if the angel had not been taken off site it is possible that it was destroyed.

Yet another scenario suggests that the angel was damaged during WWII and removed for repair. Further damage was caused by water penetrating the wall. It was neglected in a city council yard until the Temple Local History Group and the Bristol Civic Society took action, and it was transferred to the Bristol Industrial Museum. Its location here has been refuted by a former employee.