Doulton Fountain

Glasgow, Scotland

The Doulton Fountain is the largest terracotta fountain in the world.

Doulton Fountain 1
- stu smith

Exploring the Doulton Fountain in Glasgow

Adorned with intricate sculptures representing the diverse peoples of Britain's four colonies; Australia, Canada, India and South Africa, and guarded by soldiers symbolising the nation's military might, the Doulton Fountain is both elaborate and captivating. Standing at an impressive 46 feet tall with a 70-foot-wide water basin, it remains the largest ceramic fountain ever constructed.

Originally positioned in Kelvingrove Park, the fountain was later relocated to Glasgow Green in 1890 before finding its current home outside the People's Palace in 2004. Despite facing challenges over the years, including a lightning strike that damaged Queen Victoria's statue, the fountain has been meticulously restored to its former glory through a £2 million renovation in 2005, preserving its historical significance for generations to come.

Doulton Fountain 4
- Swee Oon

Designing the Doulton Fountain

Commissioned by the Royal Doulton Company and Sir Henry Doulton, the fountain was constructed in honour of Queen Victoria's 1887 Golden Jubilee. Unveiled during the International Exhibition of 1888, hosted in Kelvingrove Park, the fountain’s warm terracotta hues and towering design mesmerised over 5.7 million visitors attending the event.

The Doulton Fountain was designed by renowned architect Arthur Edward Pearce and crafted by the skilled artisans of the Doulton pottery company. Pearce envisioned the fountain with a French Renaissance aesthetic, a design that endured over time despite challenges such as vandalism and neglect.

Doulton Fountain 3
- LornaRphoto

Symbolism in the Sculptures on the Doulton Fountain

At the centre of the fountain's design is a towering column adorned with a series of tiered basins, each featuring intricate reliefs depicting scenes from British history, mythology, and industry. Crowned by a statue of Queen Victoria herself, adorned in the regalia of the Empress of India. Below her, four maidens kneel, their transparent attire symbolising purity and abundance as water flows from their pitchers, representing life-giving sustenance.

Beneath the maidens, four figures represent the military prowess of the British Isles – the Black Watch Highlander, Grenadier Guardsman, Irish Fusilier, and Royal Naval Sailor. Each statue evokes a sense of duty and honour.

Doulton Fountain 5
- stu smith

Further down, within open arches on the lower tier, four groups of figures depict the continents of Africa, Asia, Europe, and America. From the rugged trapper of Canada to the pastoral scenes of Australia, each statue encapsulates the unique character and resources of its respective colony.

These representations, accompanied by artefacts symbolising history, industry, and agriculture, are a visual representation of Victorian Britain's global reach and the historical saying: “The Empire on which the sun never sets.”

Restoring the Doulton Fountain

Over the years, the Doulton Fountain has suffered weather damage and neglect, but thanks to dedicated restoration efforts, it has been lovingly preserved. In 2005, a substantial restoration project, funded by the National Lottery and Scottish Heritage Funds, restored the Category A listed monument to its original grandeur.

The restoration efforts preserved not only the physical integrity of the fountain but also its symbolic significance. Through meticulous research, skilled craftsmen at Hathern Terracotta painstakingly recreated missing elements, ensuring that the fountain maintains historical accuracy and continues to narrate the complex story of Britain's imperial legacy.

Doulton Fountain
- Mike McBride

Our Thoughts…

Today, the Doulton Fountain continues to enchant visitors with its ornate beauty and serves as a poignant reminder of Glasgow's rich heritage. As we marvel at its splendour, we are reminded of the craftsmanship and dedication of those who have worked tirelessly to safeguard this iconic landmark for future enjoyment.

Doulton Fountain 2
- Kevin McDonnell

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What you need to know

Doulton Fountain
Glasgow Green, Glasgow G40 1AT
55.851681, -4.236226
Tips before you visit

The Doulton Fountain is turned off during winter months to prevent cold weather related damages.