Compiled and researched by Jennifer Lawler with many thanks to the staff of March Library for their help. June 2011.
The Memorial Fountain in Broad Street was chosen to commemorate the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. The idea of a drinking fountain for both humans and animals, as a permanent memorial in March for the Coronation, was suggested by Mr William Golden in a public meeting on May 9th 1911.i
It was made of cast-iron by Scottish engineers, W. Macfarlane and Co., of Possilparkii and is a listed Grade II building, listed by English Heritage on 22 February 1985. Elaborately worked, it is open-sided with an octagonal stepped base and a domed roof.iii The drinking water fountain was removed in the last century as it obstructed the view of traffic and was sold. The troughs have also been removed.
Although dated June 22nd 1911, there is no mention of the fountain in the report of the Coronation Day celebrations in The March Advertiser, Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely County Press of June 28th 1911.iv It is said to have been dedicated on June 26th 1912 by Mr. William Golden.v
(webbies's note: this would have given them time to make it, since they only decided to do it a month before the coronation. I think the date on the plaque is that of the coronation not the erection of the fountain. Also, here is a link to someone with a different photograph and another link to a fountain teapot at the March and District Museum site.)
February 7th 1912 The March Advertiser, Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely County Press
THE FOUNTAIN LAMP
The Surveyor reported that he had communicated with Mr. W. Phillips, the engineer to the March Gas Company, with regard to a lamp suitable for lighting the situation of the fountain, and he had forwarded him particulars of the "Harp" lamp, which he recommended. It was of the inverted type, and was said to give a light equal to one thousand candle power. The price was £5 5s., and the cost per hour when lighted would be about 1d.
The matter was fully discussed, and it was eventually decided that the Council should adjourn to the fountain and consider the matter.
The picture is of a "harp" inverted gas lamp of about the same time from a german catalogue.
A small ceremony took place at the fountain to mark its centenary. See photo and article on the Fenland Citizen's Website.
Mr Tom Sharkey emailed us to say:
I glimpsed your fountain on the Tommy Walsh programme (Repeat of build a House in 60 Days). See http://www.nms.ac.uk/collections/details.php?item_id=236424&terms=fountain&key=description&offset=0&pos=0&tot=3 - this fountain is on display in the National Museum of Scotland and is very similar.vi
There is an even better working example -The James Martin Fountain fountain 1893 on The Glasgow Green - I have good pictures but you may find it on the internet. My family worked at the Saracen Foundry so we have a special interest. Hope this of interest.
It is, thank you, Tom.
Information supplied by David Edwards.
If you were watching the BBC's snow news in January 2013, a picture of Merthyr Tydfil came on the screen with another fountain prominant.viii