Tag Archives: Govan

Aitken Memorial Fountain

Let’s start this blog off with a successful restoration story.

Dr. John Aitken was born and died in Govan, Glasgow, Scotland. He was dearly loved for his devotion to the poor, and much appreciated by his patients.

The fountain, while displaying many features of George Smith & Co.’s drinking fountains, is unique due to the six columns which support the canopy. It was manufactured by Cruickshanks & Co., otherwise known as the Denny Iron Works, the memorial was erected in 1884 at Water Row, Govan and dedicated to the good doctor. On 15 May 1987, the fountain was listed a Category B historic listed building.

During the 120 years since its erection, the fountain fell into disrepair. The Townscape Heritage Initiative undertook the task of restoring the monument in 2011, and restoration was undertaken by the Ballantine Boness Creative Ironworks.

The structure was originally seated on an octagonal plinth; following restoration the plinth is now a square. It has 6 columns with an arched (fish scale) dome topped with a corona and spike/orb finial. At the top of each arch is a commemorative panel representing the manufacturer, Cruickshanks & Co.; the Govan coat of arms; the Freemasons; the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows; the Ancient Order of Foresters; and a dedication which reads: Erected by the inhabitants of Govan in affectionate remembrance of John Aitken M.D. who died 11 March 1880, aged 41 years.

Connecting the interior columns to the fretwork detailed arch are alligators, one of many forms of Memento Mori. They were considered a symbol of evil and were hung from the ceilings of cabinets as a reminder of the mortality of humanity.

The drinking fountain consists of a wide mouthed basin, in the centre of which is a putto holding a paddle seated on an upturned urn. This ‘putto’ is the Sun Foundry’s pattern number 8. A receptacle for drinking was in the form of a small cup chained to the fountain.



  • Corona, Open framework in shape of a crown
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • Memento Mori, an artistic or symbolic reminder of the inevitability of death Plinth
  • Putto (plural is Putti), a figure in a work of art depicted as a chubby male child, usually nude