On the 5th of December 1882, Provost Lennox unveiled the fountain which stands on Dumfries High Street. It was made by the Sun Foundry, Glasgow by George Smith and Co. and commemorates the supply of public drinking water to the town from nearby Lochrutton. The fountain is an important part of the social history of Dumfries, as the introduction of fresh water marked a turning point for following the devastating cholera epidemics of 1832 and 1848.
Dumfries Fountain Restoration Group
The Fountain Restoration Group came together in 2017 with a vision to restore this iconic town centre structure. Led by Dumfries and Galloway Council and supported by members from Dumfries Partnership Action Group (DPAG) and The Stove Network, the group established a plan to fully restore the fountain and upgrade the water treatment and pumping system. As part of the Stove team, Kirsten Scott who led the development of this project, joined the team as our Creative Engagement Lead.
Phase One of the restoration process took place in 2021 with support through the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Capital Fund, and enlisted the expertise of an award-winning industrial heritage conservation company to oversee the restoration. Additionally, the Holywood Trust supported a community engagement project to take place alongside the initial investigations and tendering process, led by The Stove Network.
Initial inspections of the Dumfries Fountain revealed that the wrought iron fixings that hold the various parts of the fountain together have corroded resulting in the need for a full restoration and additionally, a completely new water pumping and filtration system is required to meet current regulations to return the fountain to fully working condition.
Phase One Engagement Programme
Phase One of the restoration process took place in 2021, and included an extensive community engagement programme led by The Stove Network, offering exciting opportunities to young people and the wider community to take part in a summer programme of events, centred around the history of the fountain, the restoration process and its future as part of a regenerated and reinvigorated town centre. The project worked with local artists and historians to deliver a wide variety of workshops, walks, talks and activities.
As part of the engagement programme, public artist Alex Allan was commissioned to research and develop an artwork to accompany the restoration work, designed in response to Dumfries’ water story and working with the participants and outcomes of some of our workshops and activities. Alex worked with several schools groups, and the designs-in-progress were shared as part of a public exhibition however the designs were not taken forward to the second phase of the project.
With support from the Holywood Trust, the project commissioned two emerging artists, filmmaker Patrick Rooney and musician/composer Jenna Macrory to create a short film and original soundtrack composition following project.
Phase Two of the project was completed during 2022-23, with restoration works led by Industrial Heritage Consulting Limited and undertaken by Wigan-based Lost Art following an open tender process. Additional community engagement activities were hosted by The Stove Network throughout the second phase of the project, building on previous work with local schools and young people enabling first-hand experience of this historic restoration process with support from Dumfries CARS Project and The People’s Project. The project concluded with a community celebration and unveiling of the fountain, with contributions from St Michael’s Primary, Dumfries School of Dance, Dumfries Town Band, the Queen of the South, For Enjoyment CIC, Mostly Ghostly and the Guid Nychburris Singers Choir.
Dumfries Fountain Film
The Dumfries Fountain Film follows the story of the restoration project, from the initial project engagement in 2020-21 through to the unveiling in Summer 2023. The filmmaking work was carried out by Patrick Rooney and Ross Scott, and a community film screening was hosted in the Robert Burns Film Theatre to premiere the film.
Mostly Ghostly: The Story of the Dumfries Fountain