Tag Archives: Renfrewshire

Barrhead Co-operative Society Fountains

Location: Barrhead, Renfrewshire, Scotland

In 1896 the Barrhead Co-operative Society celebrated thirty five years in operation. In appreciation, three drinking fountains were purchased. On 13th March 1897 two fountains were erected in Barrhead presented by the President of the Society. The third fountain was presented by the Vice President to the parish of Neilston on 8th May 1897.

Currently there is a cast iron canopy at the gatehouse entrance to Cowan Park in Barrhead. As the park did not open until 1911 this is not the original location. I have been unable to find the original locations in Barrhead. However, an ordnance survey shows a drinking fountain located near the turning circle of Neilston Cemetery on the 1913 and 1947 maps.

The drinking fountain in Neilston was erected on Main Street.

Drinking fountain number 3 from George Smith & Co.’s Sun Foundry is 9 feet 10 inches high. The structure consists of four columns with obelisk finials rising from a double plinth to support a domed canopy. The interior column connectors to the dome are adorned with descending alligators and leafy decoration. Alligators were considered a symbol of evil and were hung from the ceilings of cabinets as a reminder of the mortality of humanity.


Arch faceplates with drip fret detail offer a flat surface for inscriptions in raised metal letters; civic virtues such as temperance were extolled on many drinking fountains. Over each arch, cartouches within each lunette offer commemorative dedication or crests. Presented / To The / Commissioners Of / The Burgh Of / Barrhead / By The Barrhead / Co-Operative / Society Ltd. / 13th March 1897. A second lunette contains the image of a robed woman holding scales and a sword – representing justice and equality. She is encapsulated by the legend, The Barrhead Co-operative Society Limited.

Although unable to find photos of the original fountains in Barrhead, it is to be assumed that the drinking fountain in Neilston was of the same design, having been commissioned at the same time. The solid dome originally supported a lamp finial and covered the fluted pedestal and wide basin containing a putto holding an oar, seated on an upturned urn (casting number 8). A tap was fitted to the urn, and at the base of the pedestal was housed a small trough for dogs.


  • 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
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Finial, A sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fret, Running or repeated ornament
  • Obelisk, A tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top
  • Plinth, Flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.
  • Putto, A figure in a work of art depicted as a chubby male child, usually nude



Lyle Drinking Fountain

Location: Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland

In the early part of the 19th century, the Lyle family was occupied in the commerce of coopering (barrel making) and shipping; they owned fishing smacks (English sailing vessels used to bring fish to market.) Abram Lyle inherited the business from his father, and with the assistance of several partners he bought a sugar refinery in Greenock in 1865. He also created a shipping line named the Cape Line. When he was denied anchorage in Greenock Harbour to transport sugar from the West Indies, he relocated his business to England in 1882. Henry Tate operated a sugar refinery in England, and many years later in 1921 Abram Lyle’s grandson merged with Henry Tate & Sons to become Tate & Lyle, world famous for sugar and syrup.

In addition to being a businessman, Abram was the Town Provost of Greenock from 1876-1879. Abram donated a drinking fountain to the town which was erected in Cathcart Square in 1880 .

The structure is seated on a three level octagonal plinth. Six Corinthian columns with attic base support a highly decorated open filigree dome. The capital of each column, studded with alternating circles and diamond shapes, extends beyond the capital and ends with a corona finial. At the top of the dome a spire emerges from plant foliage with open filigree crowns and a small orb at the apex.

Crests of 18 prominent families of Greenock, some of which are Ardgowan, Cartsburn, Fairlie, Stewart, Morton, Steele, Watt, and Wood, are visible along the frieze and the central point of each arch.

The font standing on a circular plinth displays an inscription, This Fountain Given To The Inhabitants of Greenock By Abram Lyle Provost 1879. A central pedestal supports a two tiered basin structure, the larger basin being on the bottom, and a smaller basin in which stands a terminal of two fish. Relevance of the fish is probably related to the Lyle family being involved in the commerce of fishing.

There is no evidence of the manufacturer of the drinking fountain. However, there are several castings similar to the Lion Foundry, (and the cast iron coronas on the red sandstone buildings of Sandringham Terrace are also a Lion Foundry design), leads me to believe that the fountain designed by Mr. F.A. Scudamore of Coventry was probably cast by the Lion Foundry of Kirkintilloch.

Image notes

  • In the postcard image, the column terminals appear to contain gas lamp globes.
  • In the 1966 image the original fountain has been replaced by a bubbler (a tap that releases a jet of water), and  a single pedestal with a small white basin. Suspended from the column terminals there would appear to be canisters for lights.
  • In the 1977 image the original font design has been resurrected. The family crests are not in position.


  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • Bubbler, a fountain with a tap
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Corinthian Column, a fluted shaft with flowers and leaves at the capital.
  • Corona, a crown
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical entablature just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal