Jubilee Fountain, Huddersfield

The Jubilee Fountain, sometimes called the Ramsden Fountain, was gifted by Sir John William Ramsden on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee and originally stood at the northern end of the Market Place at the centre of Huddersfield. It was later relocated to Greenhead Park.


The idea of erecting a fountain in the Market Place had been raised as early as 1879, when Alderman H. Brooke presented a design for "an ornamental fountain and basin" at a meeting of the Central Wards Committee on 10 July. It was stated that it was to be a gift "on behalf of a gentleman who did not wish his name to be disclosed at present, but who is willing to bear the whole expense of carrying out the design if approved." However, the Committee resolved that "whilst appreciating very highly the generous offer made, [we] are of opinion that the available space in the Market Place is insufficient for an ornamentation of the character proposed."[1]

This decision was questioned by correspondents to the Huddersfield Chronicle — "surely the fountain which you reported was not of such magnitude that the Market Place would not hold it"[2] — and also by the "Scraps and Hints" column:[3]

To say the least, the taste of the Council is most questionable. Nature abhors a vacuum, and one's eyes does not care to see the nooks and corners of Huddersfield as wild as a prairie. St. George's Square looks all the better for the noble statue of Sir Robert Peel.

In April 1887, it was reported that another fountain design was brought before the council with the suggestion that it could be erected in Market Place. It was resolved that if the site were suitable for the necessary foundations and Sir John William Ramsden was agreeable to the idea, Councillors Radcliffe and B. Stocks were to inspect the site and "decide upon the matter".[4]

Evidently, not only did he consent to the idea, Sir John then offered to cover the costs and architect Robert William Edis[5] of London was commissioned to design the fountain. Edis' plan was accepted and approved in October 1887.[6]

Work on building the fountain began and necessitated the erecting of hoardings around the Market Place, along with temporary traffic diversions. As the ground was on a slope, work was also undertaken to raise the lower section by 11 inches to provide a more level foundation. One further proposal was the that Market Cross be moved so that it aligned with the fountain, but this was seemingly abandoned when Sir John refused to pay the cost of doing so.[7]

As work dragged on into the winter months and was delayed due to poor weather, a letter from "A Ratepayer" appeared in the Huddersfield Daily Chronicle complaining about the Corporation's decision to build "a large urinal" which they felt would be "an eyesore in the most conspicuous position of the town".[8] As a result, the council took the decision to temporarily remove the hoardings until weather improved — "It would no doubt be a great boon to the adjacent shopkeepers and the public."[9]

The fountain was formally handed over to the town on Tuesday 12 June 1888 in a public ceremony involving Sir John and his wife, Lady Guendolen Ramsden, and also the Bishop of Wakefield. The Chronicle declared it to be "a thing of beauty and a joy forever."[10] In their coverage of the ceremony, the Chronicle included a detailed description of the fountain:[11]

The fountain is of a very beautiful and elegant design, this portion of the work having been entrusted to Mr R. W. Edis, F.S.A., 14, Fitzroy Square. London, W. The duties of carrying out the design, and reproducing in stone, &c., the excellent drawings on paper were given by Sir J. W. Ramsden to Messrs Graham and Nephew, contractors, Moldgreen, the firm who built the fine Estate Offices, the Kirkgate Buildings, Longley Hall, &c. The fountain stands 22 feet above the street level, is 8½ feet square at the base, and is approached by three polished York stone steps. On the top of these stand a moulded base with four dog troughs, above which is a moulded plinth, and upon this rest four marble basins richly moulded and carved, with electroplated drinking cups for the use of those who desire to take advantage of the supply offered by the fountain to all passers along the thoroughfare. In the centre is a large basin with a bronze, ornamental, standard fountain jet, supplied by Huddersfield Corporation water. At each corner stand four double columns, 9½ inches diameter, with moulded bases, and stout bronze-enriched hands and amulets, the upper part of the shafts fluted, and the caps moulded with carved pateroe. These columns support a spherical domed circular top, which is full of moulded panels in the interior, and have four neatly moulded arches on the external faces. In the spandrills are pierced openings tor glass facets, and above them a very neatly moulded cornice and fluted frieze with carved gargoyles at each corner. Over all these rests what may be termed the roof, which rises about 6½ feet. Above, the cornice is finished with very delicate moulded ribs with carved crockets, filled in with very richly carved tracery in the centre. On each side are carved shields — four in all — on one of which Sir J. W. Ramsden’s coat of arms is inscribed ; on the second the arms of the Huddersfield Corporation ; and on the remaining two the following inscriptions, viz.;— “In grateful memory of 50 years of the reign of our Sovereign Lady Queen Victoria;” and “The gift of Sir John William Ramsden, Bart., to Huddersfield, 1886.” Each corner is surmounted with double pedestals, moulded and pannelled with carved shields at the angles, and finished with carved terminals, the top being completed with a moulded, fluted finial, carved with Sir J. W. Ramsden’s crest, and gilded. The architect expressed himself as so pleased with the manner in which Messrs Graham and Nephew had executed the work entrusted to them that he desired their name to be inscribed somewhere upon the fountain, and ‘Robert W. Edis, architect,’ is cut out on the base, under the mouldings of the marble basin.

In May 1890, the Borough Surveyor was requested "to recommend some alteration to the Memorial Fountain in the Market Place in order to obviate the running of water on the footpath."[12]

In June 1896, it was reported to a council meeting by G. W. Tomlinson, J.P. that it had been some time since the fountain had worked. The Borough Surveyor was "instructed to see to its being put in order."[13]

After a decision made to relocate the fountain, St. Paul's Garden was initially considered as a suitable location before it was eventually moved to Greenhead Park circa 1920.[14]

Further Reading


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Notes and References

  1. "Huddersfield Town Council" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (17/Jul/1879).
  2. Huddersfield Chronicle (26/Jul/1879).
  3. Huddersfield Chronicle (22/Jul/1879).
  4. "Huddersfield Town Council" in Huddersfield Chronicle (23/Apr/1887).
  5. Wikipedia: Robert William Edis
  6. The Buildings of Huddersfield Project
  7. "Huddersfield Town Council" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (19/Apr/1888).
  8. "Correspondence" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (23/Dec/1887).
  9. "Huddersfield Town Council" in Huddersfield Chronicle (24/Dec/1887).
  10. "Scraps and Hints" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (15/Jun/1888).
  11. "Sir J.W. Ramsden's Jubilee Gift to Huddersfield" in Huddersfield Chronicle (13/Jun/1888).
  12. "Huddersfield County Borough Council" in Huddersfield Chronicle (23/May/1890).
  13. "Huddersfield County Borough Council" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (18/Jun/1896).
  14. The exact date is was moved was not found during research, but it was after 1916.