In August 1893 the Parks Committee awarded a contract to Mr H. Davis of Newport, to construct the ornamental fountain near the Friars Road entrance, at a cost of £129-10-0. (The eminent rockwork specialist James Pulham & Son of London was one of the unsuccessful tenderers.) It was decided subsequently that the fountain be constructed of "red forest stone".
The day before the park opened, the fountain was described as follows:
The fountain is the first thing which arrests the attention when entering the park from the Friar's-road Lodge. It forms a finishing central feature of the avenue of limes which has been planted. These, of course, have not yet grown sufficiently to develop to the full the architect's idea. At present the fountain looks a mass of masonry out of all proportion to the avenue; but all things come to those who wait, and in no long number of years the fountain will become enshrined in its adequate greenery. The fountain top is designed very much along the lines of the well-known Revelstone fountain, near Edinburgh; but in this instance a central top jet has been added which throws an upright spray of water. Around the top of the shaft are ranged, as at Revelstone, a series of dolphins which spout water into the upper basin. The upper basin drips into a lower and larger basin, and the water descends again from thence into the pond. The pond is somewhat cramped, but it is intended to enlarge and improve it by the addition of quatrefoils so as to prevent splashing.
In 1908 it was reported that the fountain was not in operation because of complaints that water was falling outside the basin and wetting bystanders. It was decided to remove the ornamental centre of the fountain, leaving the basin, and to provide a spray in place of the original centre. Flower beds were to be made inside the fountain's outer wall and seats provided for the area around it.
The postcard view below left shows the ornamental fountain on a card produced by Valentine's in 1906 when the fountain was probably still in its original form. The card on the right, produced by R. H. J. Ltd and postmarked 1916, shows the fountain after its modification in 1908.
In September 1922 the Parks Committee agreed that a rockery be formed on the fountain and the fencing around the steps of the fountain be removed. In October 1923 mention was made of the "former fountain" when the Parks Committee decided to make some improvements to the fencing around the top of the basin.
An ornamental fountain was still present in the 1970s according to Ordnance Survey maps. The tree avenue leading from the Friars Road entrance was reduced to two pairs of trees from the 1930s onwards.
The photographs below show the present day ornamental fountain.
Sources of Information