Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
Queen Victoria on
the Doulton Fountain
Details:

Designers: Arthur Ernest Pearce (1859-1934) (Fountain)
and William Silver Frith (1850-1924) (Queen Victoria).
Modeller: John Broad (fl. 1873-1919).
Location: Glasgow Green, Glasgow.
Date executed: 1895 (replacing original of 1888, destroyed by lightning).
Restored: 1999-2005.


Queen Victoria on the Doulton Fountain Queen Victoria on the Doulton Fountain Queen Victoria on the Doulton Fountain

Designed by Arthur Ernest Pearce in the French Renaissance style, and gifted to the city by Sir Henry Doulton in 1890, the fountain is a sculptural extravaganza commemorating Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee of 1887, and celebrating Britain’s Imperial achievement. It was originally produced by Doulton & Co, of Lambeth, London, as the firm's principal exhibit in the International Exhibition held in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Park, in 1888.

Relocated to Glasgow Green in 1890, the statue of Queen Victoria (designed by William Silver Frith and modelled by John Broad ) was destroyed by lightning in 1894, and was replaced with a new statue in 1895, specially made by Broad after discovering that his original moulds had been broken-up.

As magnificent as fountains get, its 46 feet height is adorned with figurative groups representing: Australia, Canada, India and South Africa, together with their national flora and fauna (South Africa’s full size Ostrich, the Australian sheep and Canadian Beaver, are particularly fine touches), as well as a quartet of military and naval figures, including a kilted highlander, and a plethora of other sculpted decoration, such as gargoyles, lion masks, coats of arms and life-size girls pouring water over the whole ensemble, all of which is presided over by a statue of the queen empress herself, at the fountain’s apex.

The fountain was a regular target for vandals throughout its history with most of its sculpture groups smashed by the late 1990s. Surrounded by a high wire fence to save it from further attacks, the sheer scale of its neglect and vandalism eventually prompted the City Council to seek National Lottery funding, amongst other sources, to dismantle, restore and relocate the fountain to a new site in front of the People’s Palace Museum.

The restoration was undertaken by the Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD), in conjunction with Ibstock Hathenware, who restored the terracotta and replaced its missing parts using Doulton's archive photographs and others provided by the public. The dismantling of the fountain was begun in July 1999, by Hunter & Clark, and completed a few years later when the fountain disappeared for its historic makeover and move (the dismantling in 1999 was documented by Gary Nisbet, of the Glasgowsculpture.com website, on behalf of GUARD, and copies of the photographs were lodged in the project's archive in the City Archives).

After five years, the fountain was finally switched on again on Monday, 9th May 2005, by the city’s Lord Provost, Liz Cameron, marking the completion of the £4 million project to restore the fountain to its original glory.

The team at glasgowsculptue.com were on hand to document the proceedings. We will soon be updating our Doulton Fountain pages with images from the the fountain’s dismantling and restoration.

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