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Fountain, Zetland Park, Dalratho Road, Grangemouth

A Category C Listed Building in Grangemouth, Falkirk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.0155 / 56°0'55"N

Longitude: -3.7188 / 3°43'7"W

OS Eastings: 292943

OS Northings: 681623

OS Grid: NS929816

Mapcode National: GBR 1M.T4HD

Mapcode Global: WH5R0.V297

Entry Name: Fountain, Zetland Park, Dalratho Road, Grangemouth

Listing Date: 9 September 2016

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 406358

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52399

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Grangemouth

County: Falkirk

Town: Grangemouth

Electoral Ward: Grangemouth

Traditional County: Stirlingshire

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Grangemouth

Description

The fountain was designed and erected in 1882 and is located in Zetland Park. Alterations were made about 1923 when the fountain was relocated within the public park. There were further alterations after the 1930s. The fountain takes the form of a large circular cast iron basin set on a four-course, ashlar masonry sandstone base. The basin has two outer cast iron side bowls for drinking water on fretted arched panels and a central pedestal surrounded by four kneeling cast iron winged angels. This supports a shallow, open bowl with beaded rim and eight water spouts.

Statement of Interest

The fountain in Zetland Park dating from 1882 is a good surviving example of a cast iron drinking fountain with some unusual surviving features, including the fretted panels on the side basins and the angels supporting the second basin. It is a relatively early example of its type following the advent of the Temperance Movement in the UK in 1859. Although it bears no maker s mark, it is likely to have been cast in a local foundry, probably the Falkirk Foundry or the Carron Ironworks who provided the seats, railings and flagpole at the time the park was opened. The fountain was gifted to the town by the Lord Provost Hugh Macpherson who was deeply concerned with the welfare of the townspeople and was a committed supporter of local industry which would seem to confirm that the fountain was cast locally.

Age and Rarity

In 1880 the Earl of Zetland offered an area of ground for a public park in Grangemouth. This was accepted by the Town Council and the Park was opened on 3 June 1882. The fountain was gifted by the Lord Provost of Grangemouth, Hugh Macpherson. The fountain was in place when the park was opened and the water was turned on by the Provost s wife, Mrs Elizabeth Macpherson, at the opening ceremony. The opening of the park coincided with that of the new Carron Dock and the ceremonies were conducted on one day. A commemorative medal which shows the appearance of the fountain at that date (with a further cast iron superstructure) was struck on the occasion of the opening of the park. The reverse side the medal commemorates the presentation of the public park by the Earl of Zetland and the opening of the new docks.

The fountain was originally located at the northernmost end of the park. The fountain was relocated 1923 when the War Memorial was constructed in this northern position and the fountain moved to its current position further south. An image of the 1930s indicates that the fountain had been raised from its original 3-course base to four courses and also with the insertion of a concrete surround and concrete steps on either side replacing the single sandstone step, presumably when it was moved, but its superstructure was visibly in place at this date. Part of the superstructure of the fountain was removed at some point since then (see below) but the exact date is unknown. However the fountain still retains many elements dating from its date of construction.

There were many drinking fountains erected during the second half of the 19th century in towns over the United Kingdom to provide a ready supply of clean drinking water before running water in households was universally available. The London fountain movement was launched on 12th April 1859 and was an association formed by Samuel Gurney. Drinking fresh water was encouraged as a better option than beer or other alcoholic beverages and so fountains were usually erected close to pubs. At the same time the Temperance Movement initiated philanthropic donations for memorial fountains, which would ensure that many received elaborate decorative treatment.

With the advent of readily available fresh water drinking fountains lost their original purpose and remained simply as decorative features in the streetscape. Many have fallen into disrepair or been extensively altered. They are therefore a relatively rare type of structure with only 18 iron drinking fountains presently listed in Scotland. Of those listed iron fountains only four are earlier than that at Grangemouth.

In this context, the Zetland Park fountain is considered to be a relatively early example of the type in Scotland. While it has been moved to a new location in the 1920s and has since lost some of its early fabric, the design is known to be uncommon for its type and retains good decorative features such as its drinking bowls and the cast angels (see below).

Architectural or Historic Interest

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

The maker of this fountain has not yet been identified. Unusually there is no evidence of a maker s mark. However it is possible this this was lost when the fountain was moved and reconstructed.

The side basins with fretted panels and the angels supporting the basin are relatively unusual design motifs and their survival is of interest and is not found elsewhere in Scotland. It is almost certain that one of the local foundries made the fountain. Newspapers document that the layout of the park was funded by public subscription and two local iron companies, the Falkirk Iron Company and the Carron Company supplied (presumably free of charge) chairs, the flagstaff which was surmounted by a model ship, and railings. It is possible that one of these two foundries was therefore responsible.

However there is a further reason for believing that the fountain was made locally. It was commissioned at the expense of the Lord Provost Hugh Macpherson. Macpherson (1833-1899) was wholly committed to supporting the community and was involved with the Falkirk United Christian Fellowship, the Town Mission, the YMCA, the Coast Mission and the Foundry Boys Meeting as well as the local Free Church. He served as a Police Commissioner and on the School Board. He was also an advocate of temperance and in his position as Lord Provost was reluctant to grant new licenses for public houses. It is clear that he would have supported the local foundries by employing them to cast the fountain. He may however have supplied ideas for the design. Macpherson was a self-made man who established the Forth Saw Mills in 1867 and is described as a timber merchant in census records. He imported foreign timber and there is evidence that he had business interests on the Continent. At the time of his death he relinquished his interest in a Feldspar mine in Christiansund in Norway.

Grangemouth Town Council Minutes do not give details of the designer of the fountain but from these minutes it is clear that the construction of the park was dealt with by a Parks Sub-Committee. No records of this survive. However it is recorded (Buildings of Scotland) that the architectural practice A & W Black of Falkirk was responsible for the design and layout of Zetland Park. The uncatalogued papers of Hugh Macpherson in Falkirk Archives show that William Black undertook work for Macpherson privately including the construction of a workshop in 1882 and the procurement of lairs in Falkirk Cemetery on his behalf in 1889. It is very likely that Black made a design for the fountain which was then cast by one of the local firms.

The fountain, as noted above, has been altered. The upper basin was formerly surmounted by a fluted column supporting another basin on which a sculpted figure holding an urn on her head from which water poured, filling the top bowl which in turn filled the middle bowl and flowed from eight spouts into the base bowl. It has been suggested that by comparison with other drinking fountains (for example those illustrated in the catalogues of Walter Macfarlane & Co) that there may have been chains with cups attached on the side bowls.

Some alterations have been made to the fountain but the design is highly unusual. Nothing similar is recorded in the Scottish Ironwork database.

Setting

The fountain is located in open ground at the intersection of a number of paths in Zetland Park. Along with the war memorial, the fountain is a significant visual focal point in the park which in this area is largely open lawns.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2016).

There is a locally significant association with foundry industries nearby at Falkirk.

The fountain was gifted to the town by the Lord Provost Hugh Macpherson who was deeply concerned with the welfare of the townspeople and was a committed supporter of local industry which would seem to confirm that the fountain was cast locally.

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