Restoration works underway on Children's Jubilee Drinking Fountain

Published on 28 March 2024

Childrens Jubilee Drinking Fountain prepped for 3D scanning.JPG

The City of Launceston is overseeing a significant restoration of the iconic Children's Jubilee Drinking Fountain in City Park.

The cast iron fountain was installed in City Park in 1897, having originally been commissioned to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887.

City of Launceston Mayor Matthew Garwood said the Council expected the project to be completed later this year.

"We are doing a full restoration on the fountain," Mayor Garwood said.

"We'll be removing the lead-based paint and repairing the structure because as you can imagine, 130 years is a long time to be proudly standing out in the Launnie elements.

"We're working with Glasgow Engineering to remove the structure a step at a time and each of those components will then be restored.

"Any elements that may be too damaged to repair will be re-cast in cast iron by Castings Tasmania. "Both Glasgow Engineering and Castings Tasmania go right back to the very earliest days of manufacturing in Launceston, so there's a lineage there that's continuing today."

City of Launceston Public Space Projects Officer Geoff Farquhar-Still said the Council was completing 3D scans of every component of the fountain as part of the restoration project.

"The fountain has been in City Park for approximately 130 years," Mr Farquhar-Still said.

"While it has withstood the elements well, it has been deteriorating so it's timely we're undertaking this project now."

Mr Farquhar-Still said expert contractors were in the process of dismantling the fountain to allow restoration works to take place off site.

"There's a lot of careful assessment being done of the components of the fountain as we progress, including 3D scanning," he said.

"The 3D scans provide us with data we can use to recast any pieces that may have deteriorated beyond repair. However we'll avoid replacing pieces unless we absolutely have to.

"There were hundreds of these fountains made by the Walter Macfarlane & Co. foundry in Scotland and shipped all over the Commonwealth.

"The Walter Macfarlane & Co. foundry was an innovative company, similar to a 19th century Ikea, which sent flat pack structures from a series of patterns all over the Commonwealth, often to commemorate significant events.

"They would arrive in kit form and be bolted together on site — extremely heavy but ornate and beautiful objects.

"A lot of them, particularly in the UK were melted down during the war to make weaponry. There are still a few surviving drinking fountains of this kind around the world, but ours is in very good condition considering its age.

"Originally it was situated out the front of City Park, and people may have noticed an octagonal shape in the asphalt which marks its original location.

"It was moved in about 1908 to its current location and we think that may have been in response to the introduction of motor vehicles and fears the fountain may be damaged by cars in an accident.

"The goal of this restoration project is to retain as much of the original structure as possible and to return it to its original state."