Allan Jackson - 21 July 2005
is lucky enough to have a couple of pieces of Victorian Scottish
decorative ironwork. They are the Currie Memorial Fountain
and the Da Gama Clock. Both pieces were mentioned several
times in the diary pages on this site and I have now consolidated
all the information onto this page.
Added May 12, 2019: There have been addiional mentions of the Da Gama clock and Currie's Fountain in the diary since this page was compiled. The site search feature is your friend.
Diary page # 15 - 25 August 2004
About Durban I wrote:
A drought and shortage of water prompts Councillor H.W.
Currie to sink an artesian well in search of water in the
area below the Botanic Gardens. Water is struck and the
well, named Curries Fountain, delivers 50,000 gallons
of water to the town every day through pipes which are laid
for the purpose. [The Curries Fountain sports ground
now stands on or about the site of the well.] In 1889 a
lampost and drinking fountain are erected to the memory
of Cllr. Currie on the corner of West Street and Point Road.
The drinking fountain is modelled after Brussels famous
Mannikin Pis but Durban goes one better by incorporating
two little boys in its design. Prudery wins the day, however,
and the boys do not add water to the fountain in the traditional
Mannikin way but end up pouring it out of pots.
[One source discounts this story saying that it is a replica
of one in Chepstow in Wales]
The Portuguese community donates a clock to mark the 400th
anniversary of Vasco Da Gamas arrival off Port Natal
and it is set up at the Point. [The monument and the one
installed to commemorate the memory of Cllr. Currie (see
entry for 1878, above) were looking pretty sad at the beginning
of 2003 and were crying out to be restored.]
a year ago I went down to the corner of West Street and Point
Road to visit the monument to Cllr. Currie and found it to
be a very sad little monument indeed. There were pieces broken
off of it, one of the figures was leaning at an odd angle,
cracks had appeared, and the paintwork was in a very bad state.
My heart was rent and then, a few months later, it disappeared
from its corner. I thought that it had found its way to a
scrap metal dealer but I was happy to discover that it had
been removed for restoration.
Prange, of the eThekwini Municipality Urban Design Department,
tells me that the work was done at Keith Clayton Welding in
Pinetown. The monument was taken apart, sandblasted and aluminium
mouldings were made to replace the missing pieces. Restoration
took about a year and, earlier this month, on 13 August, I
think, it was erected by Gordon Verhoef & Krause in the
Botanic Gardens, next to the lake. [You come in the Visitors'
Centre entrance and take your first left round to the south
end of the lake.]
monument to Cllr. Currie in its new location in the
Botanic Gardens, left, and a detail from it.
location is extremely appropriate when you consider that Currie's
original fountain must have been within a stone's throw of
there. I have visited the Botanic Gardens to view the monument
and found it gleaming and resplendant in its new coat of paint.
It still needs to be hooked-up to the electricity and to the
mains water supply so that it'll work as a lampost and drinking
is a question hanging over the origin of the monument and
Martin Prange said he believes that it may have been manufactured
in Scotland. He is going to try and track the source down
as soon as he has finished moving office. In the meantime,
my informant Hugh Edwards has said that he'll bring back photographs
later this year of monument's twin in the UK. There is a belief,
locally, that our monument is a copy of the one near Chepstow
but Hugh told me he has seen a newspaper clipping from a paper
claiming over there that their's is a copy of the one in Durban!
More on that as it comes in.
stopped-off to see the Da Gama clock on Victoria Embankment
the other day and found it in a really sad state as well.
Martin Prange assured me, however, that it is definitely on
the list for eventual restoration.
Diary page # 17 - 25 December 2004
I have a follow-up on Currie's Fountain which was mentioned
at some length, above. You'll see on that there is a very
similar fountain at St. Arvans near Chepstow in Wales. I now
have a picture of it courtesy of my informant Hugh Edwards,
who recently returned from a holiday in the area. You'll see
that the cherubs and the dolphins decorating the base of the
central post are identical to the ones on the Durban fountain.
The St Arvans fountain doesn't incorporate a lamp post like
ours does but it has a much larger bowl and a smaller one
set into its base where animals can drink.
courtesy Hugh Edwards
drinking fountain at St Arvans has several identical
components to the one in Durban.
Click pic to view an enlargement.
managed to get hold of a copy of a report that was compiled
when the St Arvans fountain was restored a couple of years
ago. The first surprise was that there is third fountain in
East Linton in Scotland which incorporates the same cherubs
as the ones in Durban and St Arvans. The report states that
the three fountains were made by the Sun Foundry in Glasgow
and that the differences between the three can be explained
by the fact that foundries often made things in modular fashion,
allowing customers to mix and match. The St Arvans fountain
originally cost £30 and was opened in 1893**
by a Miss Clay who was described by the Chepstow Weekly Advertiser
as 'that popular young lady'.
a picture of the East
Linton fountain on the front page of their website.
Durban's fountain was opened in 1889.
Diary page # 17 - 31 December 2004
the last entry in the diary I have heard from Zoe Brown who
runs the East Linton website mentioned above. She says she
lives very near the fountain and was kind enough to send a
courtesy Alastair Seagroatt via Zoe Brown.
New Year to you all.
Check out additional pictures of the East Linton fountain,
courtesy of http://www.eastlinton.uk.com.
Click images to view enlargements.
Diary page # 18 - 16 January 2005
I talked about Durban's Currie Memorial drinking fountain
and the fact that it has parts in common with fountains in
other locations. One of these is in East Linton in Scotland
and, since then, I have heard from Garry Menzies who sent
me a number of pictures of that fountain and some information
courtesy Garry Menzies
very nice view of the East Linton fountain, above. The
water carriers on the East Linton fountain, below, and
the fountain in Durban, right, are identical
courtesy Garry Menzies
Click images, above, to view enlargements.
water carriers [Ive been told not to
call them cherubs] on the Durban fountain.
Linton fountain was cast by George Smith & Co at the Sun
Foundry in Glasgow and errected in 1882, after a donation
of £100 from former Lintonian John Drysdale, who had
made good in the cattle trade in Brazil. The Sun Foundry apparently
operated from 1857 to 1899 and was one of the most important
makers of decorative cast iron in Scotland, second only to
Walter Macfarlane & Company at their Saracen Foundry.
seen some papers from Durban's City Architect's Department
which say that our fountain was produced by Walter Macfarlane
& Co. I had no quarrel with this but, after finding out
about the St Arvans and East Linton fountains, which are definitely
Sun Foundry products, I became convinced that ours was too.
Last week I found the incredibly interesting Scottish
Ironwork website and sent a picture of Durban's fountain
to the site's co-publisher, David Mitchell.
who works for the Conservation Research and Education Group
of Historic Scotland, replied that Currie's Memorial Fountain
is definitely a Sun product. He says that the various foundries
guarded their designs jealously and would have pursued anyone
who tried to copy them. So now we know...
on the suject of decorative cast iron, I mentioned some time
ago in these pages that I had visited the Da Gama clock on
Victoria Embankment and found it to be in a very sad state
of repair. It seems that our Portuguese community has been
equally concerned about the monument and I was very pleased
to able to put a representative of the community in touch
with the folk in the City Architect's Department who deal
with these things. I have every hope, therefore, that moves
to restore the monument will go ahead soon.
on Da Gama Clock - 21/7/2005
ago I received an interesting e-mail from my informant John
Bolton in Humbie in Scotland. He had seen my pictures of the
Da Dama Clock and came up with examples of fountains in the
UK which have some identical parts to it.
Click pics to view enlargements
three pictures of the Da Gama clock were taken by myself
on Victoria Embankment during 2005. The yellow arrow
on the lefthand picture points to where Samson's feet
can just be seen. In the middle is a closeup of Samson
and, on the right, is a shot showing the rich, but somewhat
careworn decorative detail on the monument.
picture of the fountain in Haddinton in Scotland was
taken in 2002 and shows that it has the same column
as ours and the same Samson on top.
Click pic to view an enlargement
Tydfil Drinking Fountain
picture shows the drinking fountain in Merthyr Tydfil
in Wales. It not only has the same Samson, but also
what seems like the same dome, gargoyles and face plate
Click pic to view an enlargement
courtesy John Bolton: The
Da Gama Clock and the Haddington and Merthyr Tydfil
fountains were all made by Walter Macfarlane & Co.
at their Saracen Foundry in Glasgow.
on Currie's Memorial Drinking Fountain - 21/7/2005
courtesy John Bolton
have covered a number of fountains around the world
which share some of the components with our Currie's
Fountain. Now, from John Bolton, news of what looks
like an identical piece. The fountain pictured, left,
does look identical to the one in Durban and was apparently
located in Tranent, near Haddington in Scotland, from
before 1900 until the 1920s. The picture was apparently
taken circa 1900.
Click image to view enlargement.
Added 16 December 2008
Dun Laoghaire drinking fountain
I was lucky enough to get a brief trip to Ireland in September this year and was amazed to find that they have a drinking fountain in Dun Laoghaire, which is more or less identical to our Da Gama clock.
|Click to view enlargements.
The fountain was originally produced by Walter MacFarlane & Co. at their Saracen Foundry in Glasgow. I am indebted to the Scottish Ironwork website for the information that the fountain was bombed in the early 1980s and that what we see today is almost a complete replica, incoporating some original pieces, which was produced by Heritage Engineering for the Dun Loaghaire Harbour Board in 2002.
Added 16 December 2008
Burgersdorp Drinking Fountain
I had heard tell that there was another drinking fountain, similar to our Da Gama Clock in South Africa. It's in Burgersdorp in the Orange Free State and I'm indebted to Arthur Gammage for this picture:
Picture courtesy Arthur Gammage - click to view enlargement.
out the incredibly interesting Scottish
Ironwork website for more information about all aspects
of Scottish ironwork.