Tag Archives: Staffordshire

Tipton Fountain

Location: Sandwell, Staffordshire, England

The canopy is all that remains of a drinking fountain located in Victoria Park, Tipton. It was commissioned by Mr. George Monnington Waring and his wife Elizabeth to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary. It was unveiled on June 29, 1901 and was listed as a Grade II historic building on 29th September 1987.

The structure was restored in 2014 by Dorothea Restorations. Repairs were made and missing items recast before being gilded and painted.

The canopied drinking fountain was 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 display lunettes with an image of a cranes and two memorial shields: Presented To The Inhabitants Of Tipton By Mr & Mrs G M Waring In Commemoration Of Their Golden Wedding And Residence In The Parish For Upwards Of 50 Years, April 1901.

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 is surmounted with a vase and spiked obelisk finial.

Under the canopy the standard design was font casting number 7. The 5 ft 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 thus allowing 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.


  • 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

Sidney Fountain

Location: Stafford, Staffordshire, England

A fountain was erected on Gaol Square in 1889 in memory of Thomas Sidney who was born in a house on the Square in 1805. It was donated by his wife to honour her husband who became Lord Mayor of London, 1853 – 1854.

Drinking fountain number 19, was manufactured at Walter Macfarlane’s Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland, and sat on a two tiered circular plinth. It had a wide base in the form of a St. Andrew’s cross, on which was set a circular shaft, ornamented with water lilies. Four troughs for dogs were set between four lion jambs that supported four highly decorated quatrefoil basins. Horses also drank from the elevated basins. The stanchion and central column were decorated with floral relief, swans and cranes. A dedication shield was mounted on the central column. A kylix-shaped vase terminal with four projecting tendrils offered drinking cups suspended by chains. The fluted central column with two decorated brackets supported two lamps.

The statue of Samson was replaced within two decades and is currently part of the Staffordshire Museum collections. The central column was extended and a third lamp was erected at the apex. In 1916 the third lamp was removed, the column shortened and a clock with four faces installed. It was presented by George Bruckshaw to celebrate fifty years of residence in Stafford.

Unfortunately this fountain is no longer in existence. The fountain was destroyed by a motor vehicle in 1928. The clock was restored and mounted on a single post with four lamp globes facing compass directions. Although no vestige of the drinking fountain remained the clock was located near to the original location of Samson.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Lions are symbolic of guardianship and Samson is symbolic of strength.


  • Kylix, a grecian style drinking cup
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.
  • Quatrefoil, a type of decorative framework consisting of a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially-overlapping circles of the same diameter
  • Stanchion, upright bar or post providing support
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

Image Sources

Image produced from the Staffordshire Past Track service www.staffspasttrack.org.uk

With permission of Landmark Information Group Ltd. http://www.landmark-information.co.uk

And Ordnance Survey http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk

Staffordshire Arts & Museum Service

Stafford Historical and Civic Society

Newcastle Borough Museum and Art Gallery


Burslem Fountain

Location: Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England

James Maddock J.P. was a businessman and a philanthropist who made donations to the Wedgewood Institute and the Haywood Hospital. He also held the position of Mayor of Burslem for two years. He donated the drinking fountain to the town in 1881. It is located at the centre of St. John’s Square.

This cast iron fountain cast by the Coalbrookdale Iron Company rests on a three tiered square plinth of kerridge stone, the base of which is put together with bricks and blue lias (blue lias consists of a sequence oflimestoneandshalelayers). The height of the structure is 14 ft. 6 ins. and originally had a copper bronze appearance.

The square base with chamfered corners offers two basins on opposite sides. The second tier of the fountain is an encased dome surrounded by arches and short pedestals with floral decoration. Four Corinthian columns with attic base rise from the pedestals to support an abacus from which a central fluted column rises. Two dolphins are intertwined at the base of the column which has a lamp terminal. The original gas lamp was a globe with gilt bands.

Today, lunettes between each column contain alternating lion masks with rings and elephant masks from which water pours into the basins. However, the original design did not have elephant masks and contained four lion heads. Water flowing from the basins descended to a small trough below for the use of dogs. The central terminal is a reeded vase with handles in the form of intertwined snakes. Originally the vase was interlaced with gold foliage and the snake handles were also gilt.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Lions are acknowledged as guardians, elephants are a symbol of peace, snakes are potent guardians of sacred spaces, and dolphins are guardians of all things water related.

According to a Staffordshire Times newspaper article dated August 27, 1881, an underground passage was created beneath the fountain to permit repair to pipes without the need to dismantle the fountain.

“The MAYOR then stepped forward, and addressing the crowd he said he had looked forward to that day with very great pleasure, that he might hand over to the town what he promised to do in November. For a long time he had had a wish to do something for his town – the town in which his father worked so many years, and with such great success, and with which his (the Mayor’s) interests were so closely identified. He had also worked to do some good for his fellow-townsmen. There had been many good examples set them by benefactors to the town in various ways by natives and residents, and when he considered the form his gift had taken, he thought he could not do better than present the town with a drinking fountain. He hoped it would be acceptable, and an advantage to the people of Burslem, and that they would find a service in years to come.” Staffordshire Times August 27, 1881.

In August 1984 the fountain was abandoned in the corner of a factory yard near the top of Newcastle Street. It remained there for many years until it was restored and erected once more at Fountain Place in 1990. An inscription on the edge of the plinth states, On 25th April 1990 Francis Fitzherbert. The Lord Stafford, formally marked the restoration to the site of the Burslem drinking fountain by the Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Burslem Preservation Society in conjunction with Stephen Bambury of Co-Bam Ltd. The original fountain was presented by James Maddock.A local pottery manufacturer when he was Mayor of Burslem in 1881 & 1883.


  • Abacus, at the top of a capital, a thick rectangular slab of stone that serves as the flat, broad surface
  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • Corinthian columns, a fluted shaft with flowers and leaves at the capital
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

In gratitude
Many thanks to Mervyn Edwards (Committee, Burslem History Club) for his assistance at the Newspaper Archives.

Image Sources