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Dolphin Fountain

Location: Preston, Lancashire, England

In the mid 19th century, within the south east corner of Avenham Park close to the Old Tram Bridge, an arched recess was built into sandstone to house a natural spring which had the reputation of never running dry and being so pure that it could cure ailments. In the 1870s a drinking fountain was erected over the spring to allow the public improved access to the crystal clear water.

The fountain consisted of a dolphin sculptured in serpentine (a dark green mineral consisting of hydrated magnesium silicate, sometimes mottled or spotted like a snake’s skin). Water flowed from the mouth of the dolphin into a white marble basin in the shape of a shell.

Due to analysis of the spring water in the 1880s a very high percentage of animal matter was discovered; and the spring was therefore diverted from the fountain with the intention of piping water from the nearby town of Longridge.

In the mid 20th century, two conflicting events occurred: the fountain structure disappeared leaving only a protruding pipe, and the stone well was recorded as a Grade II historic listing on 27 September 1979.

A 21st century multi-million pound restoration project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the North West Regional Development Agency to regenerate Preston’s parks included a proposal to restore the historic drinking fountain. Consent was received to alter the listed structure, and a replica of the Dolphin Fountain was created in cast iron with a demi-lune fluted basin. The fountain was once again connected to the natural underground spring and installation was completed in 2011.

Although the sculpture resembles a sea serpent, this figurine is relatively common in the Victorian period and was representative of a dolphin. They were recognized as a good omen and a symbol of protection.

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Glossary:

  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Fluted, a long rounded groove decorating

 

Haslam Park Drinking Fountain

Location: Haslam Park, Preston, Lancashire, England

Entering via the south-east gate, beside the avenue of lime trees and parallel with the railway, you will find a cast iron drinking fountain. It was donated by Councillor W. G. Makinson in 1911 following the opening of Haslam Park. The fountain was listed as a Grade II historic building on 27 September 1979.

Drinking fountain number 8 from Walter Macfarlane’s catalogue is 9 feet 6 inches high and stands on a two tiered plinth with canted corners. The structure consists of four columns, from the capitals of which consoles with griffin terminals unite with arches formed of decorated mouldings.

Rope moulded roundels within each lunette host the image of a crane. On two of the sides provision was made for receiving an inscription using raised metal letters Presented by Councillor W.G. Makinson January 1911; 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 is surmounted by an open filigree dome, the finial being a crown with a pattée cross.

Under the canopy stands the font (casting number 7) 5 foot 8 inches high. The basin which has a scalloped edge and decorative relief is 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 offer drinking cups suspended by chains. The terminal is a crane.

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.

All photos courtesy of Tony Worral, https://www.flickr.com/search/?w=10089490@N06&q=haslam%20park

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
  • 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

Catlow Drinking Fountain

Location:  Darwen, Lancashire, England

This Edwardian cast iron drinking fountain was donated by John Catlow and Sons to celebrate the coronation on 9 August 1902 of King Edward. It was erected in Whitehall Park in 1906. Water to supply the fountain was drawn from a natural spring within the park.

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The structure was listed an English Heritage Building Grade II on the 27 September 1984. In 2010, restoration of the fountain was undertaken by Leander Architectural with a donation from Sita Resource Management. The rusty structure was blast cleaned and repainted white. Missing enrichments were cast using molds created from original drawings, and original busts of Royalty were replaced with cranes, a standard enrichment. A dedication plaque states: Whitehall Park Supporters Group / Catlow Fountain Restoration / By Leander Architectural / Funded By Sita Trust / And Sponsored By / W.M. & B.W. Lloyd / Charity Trust 2010.

The canopied drinking fountain is number 21 from Walter Macfarlane’s catalog manufactured at the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland. Seated on a three tiered octagonal plinth, the canopy is supported by eight columns with griffin terminals. Unfortunately During restoration the incorrect griffin model with outstretched wings was applied (this model was associated with canopy number 8 which had 4 columns and the outstretched wings lay on the arches.) The pattern for canopy 21 should contain griffins with wings tucked in to the side.

The highly decorated fret detail arches are trimmed with rope mouldings. Cartouches contained within each lunette offered shields for memorial, ‘In commemoration of the Coronation, Messrs John Catlow & Sons’, and busts of Royalty.

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 which is open filigree decorated with dove and flower relief has missing panels at the top of the dome. The internal capitals are floral ornament. A vase with obelisk finial originally at the apex has been replaced with a floral spike.

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Under the canopy stands the font (casting number 7) 5 foot 8 inches high. The basin which has a scalloped edge and decorative relief is 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 offer drinking cups suspended by chains. The terminal is a crane.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • 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
  • 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

St. Anne’s Promenade Fountain