Drinking Fountain corner of Westgate Street and Cowbridge Road

There was a drinking fountain at the corner of Westgate Street and Cowbridge Road, which was incorporated into a gas lamp post. In 1880 an explosion took place there, reported as follows:-

"Owing to the severe weather the roads are frozen hard, and in many places the water in the pipes leading to the houses is frozen in the ground under the roadway, hundreds of persons depending on those who are more favourably situated for a supply of water for domestic purposes. All the drinking fountains in the town are stopped from the same cause. Among them is the handsome gas pillar and drinking fountain at the corner of Westgate Street, and the Cowbridge-road. The gas pillar has a large square basement, on the sides of which are the drinking fountains, approached by massive stone steps. Above the jets of water is a handsome cast-iron pillar, surmounted with three lamps. The basement portion of the post is hollow, and this would be filled with gas in the usual way. On Wednesday morning a man in the employ of the Corporation endeavoured to thaw the water pipes, so as to get a supply of water to the fountain. For this purpose he dug a hole in the ground near the stone steps, and when he had reached the pipe, as he supposed, he made a fire for the purpose of thawing the water. Both water and gas pipes are contageous, and in a short time the gas pipe melted, and the fire communicating with the gas a terrific explosion took place, which blew up the stone steps, smashed the iron pillar in pieces, some of the fragments being thrown a considerable distance. The noise of the explosion was heard a great way off, and caused much alarm. Fortunately no one was injured, but a number of persons had narrow escapes from the falling fragments of the pillar."[1]

A replacement fountain was envisaged in December 1882, when the Council accepted an offer from Mr A Thomas, the ex-Mayor, to donate £200 "for the erection of two drinking fountains and troughs combined, the one at the front of the New Infirmary, and the other at the junction of Westgate-street and Cowbridge-road."[2] This work was not carried out until 1889. The South Wales Echo printed an illustration and reported in January of that year:-

"The employees of the corporation are now busy making the foundations for a fountain which will stand in Castle-street in front of the entrance to the Angel Hotel. Another similar erection has been placed within the past few days at the end of Castle-road, near the Infirmary. In each case the presence of these handsome, ornamental and useful embellishments will serve to add to the appearance of the neighbourhood, as they replace a simple gas lamp elevated from a pedestal of a few plain stone steps. The sketch given above represents the fountain which is in course of erection opposite the Angel Hotel. The fountain is about 15 feet in height, and has been cast in iron by Messrs McFarlane, of Glasgow. There are four drinking cups, and the streams of water fall into four large tanks. The fountain which has been placed near the Infirmary is, generally speaking, of the same style, differing only in small details.The fountains are the gift of Mr Alfred Thomas, M.P., and have cost about £100 each. Mr Thomas made the offer of these fountains to the town a considerable time since, and the delay that has intervened is due to the fact that the corporation committee charged with the task were unable at first to agree as to their location and style."[3]

Drinking fountain at junction of Westgate Street & Cowbridge Road c.1918

Drinking fountain at junction of Westgate Street & Cowbridge Road c.1918

Ordnance Survey maps show this fountain opposite the Angel Hotel from 1880 to 1920 inclusive, but by 1940 it was no longer shown.

Sources of Information

  1. South Wales Weekly News Saturday 31st January 1880 Page 3
  2. Western Mail Tuesday 12th December 1882 page 3
  3. South Wales Echo Thursday January 17 1889 page 2