Colquhoun Square fountains

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HELENSBURGH Heritage Trust spent some time trying to find the whereabouts of the old granite fountain which used to stand in Colquhoun Square, in two different locations.

But trust chairman Stewart Noble then discovered, by looking at minutes of the old Helensburgh Town Council, that there were two fountains!

Stewart reported: “The first was erected in the north-east corner, where the bicentenary cross now stands, in November 1903.

“But a second fountain was erected in February 1904 in the south-west corner outside the Post Office. This was a gift from an unnamed donor and replaced an earlier iron fountain.”

No mention is made anywhere as to who paid for these fountains. Perhaps the council itself erected one of them. Old postcards and old maps clearly show both.

The centenary cross was erected at the end of September 1904 in the middle of the square, but within one year it was repositioned to its current setting in the north-west corner.

Council minutes give no indication as to why this happened, although of course there is the persistent rumour that a prominent citizen — perhaps Lord Strathclyde of Cairndhu House — had had a near collision with it.

This omission from the Council minutes is surprising because the minutes refer both to the iron railings round the Square and the planting of flower beds.

Another lovely story relating to one of the granite fountains emerged when the Heritage Trust\s bicentenary monument was erected in the north east quadrant of Colquhoun Square on the site of a former metal water fountain.

Thoughts turned to the old granite fountain which once stood there. When it was finally deemed unsuitable for use it was preserved, with pieces of it to be found to this day in at least two Helensburgh gardens.

Part of it is at The Lindens in Victoria Road, and the former owner, Mrs Patricia Black, a past secretary of Helensburgh and District Civic Society now living in England, told how that came about.

She said: “I often walked through Hermitage Park to the town and came to know the Head Gardener and his staff and learnt a great deal about horticulture and the town and surroundings in general.

“When we came to Helensburgh, I greatly admired the town, its wonderful layout and lovely houses, and of course the residents. I borrowed many books from the Library to read its history, and I was captivated by a picture of Colquhoun Square showing a fountain in the very middle.

“I remember quite clearly a conversation with one of the gardeners who, out of the blue, mentioned the fountain — he was a local man and knew that I was interested in the history of Helensburgh.

“It was at the time the park maintenance was being transferred to the Dumbarton council.

“I was taken to a corner of the park where, lo and behold, there was a very sorry looking granite fountain lying against a hedge. I expressed great delight at seeing it, and asked whether it was not possible for it to be erected somewhere in the park for all and sundry to enjoy.

“The reaction didn't suggest this was likely, but I remember saying that someone in authority should be made aware of its whereabouts and its sorry condition, and steps taken to ensure that it was preserved for the town.

“The gardener jokingly said something like 'well you seem to care, why don't you look after it?'

“Two or three days later I returned home and, to my astonishment, I found it carefully installed in front of the conservatory — it was not complete, just the base and basin.

“I was told that the Helensburgh gardening team had been told to throw away all the rubbish and the fountain would otherwise have been broken up.

“This seemed quite wrong to me and a great pity, as it is part of Helensburgh's heritage and had been presented by a local family. So there it stayed.”

She would like to see all the pieces united and the fountain erected in the park or the town centre. Now there is a challenge!