Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
Dr John Aitken
Memorial Fountain
Details:

Sculptor: unknown
Foundry: Cruikshanks & Co Ltd (fl. 1863-1985)
Location: At Govan Cross, Govan, Glasgow
Date executed: 1884


Dr John Aitken Memorial Fountain, Glasgow Dr John Aitken Memorial Fountain, Glasgow

A rare example of the decorative, cast iron drinking fountains produced by Cruikshanks & Co.'s foundry at the Denny Works, Stirlingshire. Cruikshanks produced public drinking fountains of various types, sizes and degrees of ornamentation, with their larger patterns occasionally being erected as commemorative fountains. The only known survivor of their large-scale, commemorative work is the Dr John Aitken Memorial Fountain at Govan Cross, Glasgow (1884).


Dr John Aitken Memorial Fountain, Glasgow Dr John Aitken Memorial Fountain, Glasgow

This is in the form of a free-standing canopy supported by eight slender columns, beneath which was a central drinking well. This was originally surmounted by a cherub seated on an overturned urn from which the water flowed, until it was broken off in the late 1980s.

The cherub was a copy of the cherubs produced by the Sun Foundry for their public fountains, a good surviving example of which is at the gates of Alexandra Park (c. 1900). The cherubs are illustrated in the Sun Foundry's catalogues as Pattern No. 8: Boy with Paddle and Urn (Copies of these were also used on the Stewart Memorial Founain in Kelvingrove Park as early as 1872, by Mossman, who was possibly their modeller).



Dr John Aitken Memorial Fountain, Glasgow Dr John Aitken Memorial Fountain, Glasgow Dr John Aitken Memorial Fountain, Glasgow
Dr John Aitken Memorial Fountain, Glasgow Dr John Aitken Memorial Fountain, Glasgow Dr John Aitken Memorial Fountain, Glasgow

The Aitken fountain commemorates Dr. John Aitken (1838-1880), who provided medical care to the workers of the nearby Ibrox and Drumoyne collieries, and who served as the Police Surgeon and Medical Officer to the then seperate Burgh of Govan from 1864, until his death in 1880. He was held in such high esteem by the local community, that he had already been presented with a carriage and horse, and a silver medallion. His death at the age of 41 was widely mourned and was attributed by some as being the result of overwork and his total devotion to the needs of the poor.

Aitken's means of escape from his labours are identified in some of the lunettes around the fountain's canopy, including Freemasonry, represented by a their universally known symbol of the square and dividers, and the Manchester United Independent Order of Oddfellows, which is shown by their coat of arms. Other lunettes carry the main dedicatory inscription, the arms of the Burgh of Govan and the manufacturers name and address.



Dr John Aitken Memorial Fountain, Glasgow

Aitken is a forgotten figure now and his fountain is currently in a ruinous state, its cherub lost and its ironwork rusting away. A scheme to restore the fountain has recently been announced as part of a 1m regeneration of Govan Cross.


ERECTED
BY THE
INHABITANTS
OF GOVAN
IN
AFFECTIONATE
REMEMBRANCE
OF
JOHN AITKEN M.D.
WHO DIED 11TH MARCH
1880
AGED 44 YEARS

 

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