SEP 11 The Drinking Fountain
Jamesina Waller, née Le Strange, wife of the Reverend Adolphus Waller of St Mary’s Church Old Hunstanton, was worried that although many thousands of people visited Hunstanton St Edmunds, many of them, particularly women and children, suffered from a lack of shade and drinking water. She decided to provide a drinking fountain on the Green, and with the help of friends and family, raised sufficient funds. However when the work was about to be carried out, Mr Valentine, the well-known engineer of the King’s Lynn and Hunstanton railway, offered to ask the directors of the railway company to finance a larger and more ornamental design. The directors were unable to enlist the interest of the shareholders, but a few paid additional subscriptions on condition that a trough was added for use by the horses, donkeys and ponies used by the excursionists.
As a result, a fountain of polished granite and a cattle-trough of unpolished granite were purchased from the ‘Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Company.’ The fountain was installed opposite the pierhead, and the trough by the side of the road leading from the railway station to the front of the Golden Lion. The trough was constructed so that it formed an upper drinking basin for horses and a lower one for dogs and goats. Mrs Waller was unable to attend the opening ceremony through illness, so Reverend Waller, accompanied by his son and daughter, attended on her behalf. At 10 am on Saturday 22nd July 1882, the water was turned on for public use by Mr Peter Hart, the manager of the Water Company and Gasworks, and then in a similar manner turned on at the trough. The simple ceremony, which was only witnessed by a few score persons, was concluded.
A large number of excursionists arrived later and showed their appreciation of the gift, after mounting the steps to taste ‘the pure water that issued so freely from the springs of St Edmund.’ The water company generously granted a free supply of water to the fountain and trough for a period of 2 years.
An anonymous letter in the ‘Hunstanton Telephone’ newspaper read, ‘We are very grateful to the vicar for the drinking fountain, but I am sorry I cannot say much in its praise as a work of art. The base seems to be concrete. The fountain which is of granite, is shaped like a font and it is surmounted by what looks like a funeral urn, into which, if the reverent gentleman has the taste for cremation, his ashes might be placed, so that the future pilgrimages could be made to the shrine of St Adolphus.’
The fountain still remains in the same position on the Green, although its original purpose is no longer obvious as it is not connected to the water supply and it is mostly enveloped by a flower bed.