A decorative water fountain erected nearly 150 years ago in memory of the Marquis of Bristol is the subject of a proposed restoration project by Sleaford and District Civic Trust.
The fountain stands, somewhat neglected, beneath its own marble-columned and tiled canopy, in the corner of the Market Place in front of the old Sessions House and according to the inscription around the fringe was erected in memory of Frederick William, 6th Earl and 2nd Marquis of Bristol in 1874 by his Lincolnshire tenantry after his death.
Project leader and trust committee member David Marriage explained the project is in the very early stages of being put together, but the project appears to be being welcomed “in principle” by North Kesteven District Council, Lincolnshire County Council and the Town Council. He said the aim is to restore the water supply to make it a “live” fountain again with discrete under lighting and a local history information board
The trust seeks to preserve and promote good architecture and street scenes and has lead a number of art and restoration projects in the town over the years including Money’s Mill and the Sail Sculpture in the River Slea. They also have plans to erect a statue to ‘champion’ of the River Slea, Les Gostick.
Sleaford Town Council will consider the project at its January 3 meeting.
Clerk Kevin Martin reports: “Sleaford Civic Trust have several projects they are working on at present, the Town Council are indirectly involved in most.”
He said of the latest project: “It will require a bid to the Heritage Lottery as well as input from the district council.
“The Trust have asked if the Town Council would give, in principle, financial support to the project to facilitate a bid to Heritage Lottery.”
He said estimated costs at present are up to £19,000 and suggests the council provide a grant of £1,000 towards the project if the bid is successful.
Mr Marriage said the project was in its infancy. They want to tidy up and renovate the water fountain to make the most of a unique feature of Sleaford’s history.
They have sought advice from architect Tim Benton, builders Carre Heritage and Butlers electricians in the town about feasibility, but they still need to draft a project document.
Mr Marriage said: “It was in memory of the 2nd Marquis of Bristol, who died in 1857, I believe. It was put up by his grateful tenants and architects Kirk and Parry started building it in April 1874, finishing it by October, but the water supply took longer to put together.”
The original source was piped from the Peacock and Handley Bank (now Lloyds) but there were reports of it being contaminated just two years later.
He said: “The water was shut down in 1904 as the water was deemed unsafe. then there was a project to restart it in 1917 but we don’t know if that was successful.”
On the latest project he added: “We will make further announcements around April.”
Market trader Ian Johnson has his furniture stall right next to the forgotten fountain and said it has always been a talking point and welcomed the project.
He said: “The amount of people who come and take a picture and read the inscription and try and find out a bit about it. If it was working they would be even more engaged.
“I think it would be a good idea. It is an attraction in a beautiful setting.”