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St. David's Church Drinking Fountain

High Street, Merthyr Tydfil.

 
 

 
The drinking Fountain outside St. David's Church

 
 

MEMORIAL FOUNTAIN IN ST. DAVID'S CHURCHYARD WALL, HIGH STREET, MERTHYR TYDFIL 

By Carl Llewellyn 

In 1863 Great Britain began making preparations for the marriage of the Prince of Wales, Edward Albert to Princess Alexandra of Denmark, to take place 10 March 1863 at Windsor Castle. To mark the Royal occasion a local committee was formed under the title "The Prince of Wales Festivities Committee", the aim of the committee was not only to celebrate the event but create a fund to provide the town with a permanent commemorative feature. Mr. Frank James, Merthyr's High Constable was elected Chairman of "The Prince of Wales Festivities Committee. There were a least half a dozen different functions proposed for occasion,. "The Prince of Wales Festivities Committee arranged for a public breakfast and a ball to help raise money to erect a commemorative fountain. There were a variety of designs with prices for fountains in sandstone, in granite, and in iron, the following sites were recommended for consideration as follows:  

1. The Market Square for either a standard fountain in the square, or a marble one in front of the Market house.

2. The retaining wall opposite the corner of Pontmorlais and Pontmorlais West.

3. The wall of the Canal Warehouse near Jackson's bridge.

4. Near to the main entrance of the Dowlais Iron Works.

5. The wall of the Market house at Dowlais.

6. Near to the Dowlais Inn.  

Mr. Frank James conveyed the following words to "The Prince of Wales Festivities Committee"., that Merthyr Tydfil is to have a fountain. He said: Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,I have the honour to appear before you as the High Constable of Merthyr, and to state that the committee who arranged a breakfast in honour of the Prince of Wales' Marriage have deputed me to inform you that it is their intention to present the town with a small fountain. We have about 24 in hand and have fixed on proving a fountain, which will be of cast iron, but of course we shall want water. It will be erected opposite to the entrance to St. David's Church. We would rather have another place, but we know of no available spot more eligible, and the rector has given us leave to put it up there. Of course the place for a fountain would be the Market Square, but that site demands a much more costly affair than we can give. The people of Merthyr rejoiced to learn that they were to have a fountain. The Prince of Wales's Marriage Festivities Committee have determined upon presenting the town with one, which the Board of Health have agreed to supply with water. Mr. D. Rosser of the Merthyr Local Board of Health said he would move the supply of water and acceptance of the fountain he regretted a more suitable place had not been obtained for its erection. This will to prove a boon to thousands of poor people who cannot afford money for fermented beverages, as well as those who drink water from preference, and it is not altogether improbable that with the means of slaking their thirst with a plenteous supply of pure water close at hand, the number of the latter class of drinkers will speedily undergo a large augmentation. At any rate, it will be incalculably useful, and we believe ornamental too, to the town.

 According to the newspaper the Merthyr Telegraph dated August 8, 1863  

THE MERTHYR DRINKING FOUNTAIN, has now been erected, in a line with the railings before St. David's Church, and attracts great attention. The iron-work portion is very chaste in design, and neatly carried out. An inscription notifies that the fountain is placed in commemoration of the marriage of the Prince of Wales, and the inscription reads:- 

Jesus said unto her,

Whosoever shall drinketh of this water,

shall thirst again,

But whosoever drinketh of the water,

that I shall give him,

Shall never Thirst

JOHN. IV. 13.14

It is appropriately placed, near St. David's Church, thought it would have been better in the centre of the railing; but we should have imagined that a much better place would have been found in the Market-square. A double benefit would have accrued from placing it there, as in the first place, it would be more central, and in. the second, occupy a place that is too often occupied by nuisances still, it is never too late to men, and perhaps someday our energetic townsman Richard Thomas, Esq., may place the fountain there on a diminished scale of that at Trafalgar Square. 

The casting has Coped kneelered gable to stugged masonry, arched outlet at base. Painted ironwork in shape of sinuous cartouche with cherub overthrow, foliage trails.

The figures of Christ and the Samaritan Woman with a central niche with fountain bowl

Underneath is inscription:  

"To commemorate the marriage of the Prince of Wales, 10 March 1863"; "

Casting design by Willis Brothers - Sculpts London"; "Cast by the Coalbrookdale Co".

 
 

Renovation of the fountain by Guest Keen & Nettlefolds, Dowlais in 1979.

(From the FFE News 19th July 1979 courtesy of Carl Llewellyn)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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