Drinking Fountain – Savile Town

The drinking fountain a the junction of Savile Road and Warren Street in Savile Town is probably the oldest piece of public art in Dewsbury.

Given to the town by Baron Savile GCB (Knight of the Order of the Bath) in 1894 it was designed to provide drinking water for horses and smaller animals 

photo of the drinking fountain in Savile Toen, Dewsbury

Following is an extract from one of Margaret Watson's Nostalgia pages in the Dewsbury Reporter:

Some years ago it was in a dilapidated state and in danger of falling to bits until a local man took up the challenge to save it.

The problem with ancient monuments is once they start deteriorating, they might be demolished because they are deemed a danger to the public.

This monument was built in 1894 by John Baron Savile at a time when the Temperance Movement was at its height.

In the 1950s, however, the Savile Estate sold the fountain and the land it stood upon to the old Dewsbury Corporation.

But in 1974 when Dewsbury became part of Kirklees Council, everything belonging to Dewsbury, was handed over to them, including the fountain.

When this ancient monument was officially opened in 1894 it attracted vast crowds but today motorists drive past it and don’t even notice it.

It was dedicated originally for the use of the public and was constructed of grey granite with taps on each side and a drinking vessel attached over a large basin.

There were also troughs from which horses and cattle could drink, and at the bottom were smaller troughs for dogs.

The fountain was approached by steps and was surmounted by a handsome lamp, and the total cost was about £100.

The water and also the gas for the lighting of an ornate lam, were supplied by the old Thornhill Local Board which at that time was entirely independent of Dewsbury.

A large crowd including all the great and good of the town, attended the dedication service, including Mr E.T. Ingham, owner of Combs Colliery, Thornhill, where the previous year 139 men and boys were tragically killed in an explosion.

The fountain, having been uncovered, Mr William Lipscomb, agent to the Savile Estate, said he had travelled abroad and noted that every large town provided fountains from which people could drink.

He had always been a man of temperance and believed before you could tell a man not go into a public house,  you should first be able to provide him with facilities to get a drink of water – free.

The plaque recognising the donor, Baron Savile, dated 1894

“We might fairly preach the doctrines of temperance but only if we first undertake to provide conveniences like these,” he said.

“I am glad to say that not only those people travelling, but also horses and dogs, will be equally well supplied with water.”

He then asked Mr Brown, Chairman, of Thornhill Local Board, to turn on the water. 

Hs thanked the Savile Estate for the many generous donations of land they had given for carrying out improvements.

Mr Brown said he too was a temperance man and a life-long abstainer, and therefore endorsed the remarks of Mr Lipscomb with regard to innocuous drinks.

He also hoped the many people who would come to the cricket field across the road, would make use of the fountain.

Once the water was turned on, the young people crowded around the fountain to obtain a cool, refreshing drink.

Three hearty cheers were given for Lord Savile for the gift of the fountain, and three more cheers for Mr Lipscomb.

old photo of the drinking fountain with horse drawn carriage

A photo of the drinking fountain serving its original purpose.

Looking back on this historic moment, I cannot help but hope that motorists and pedestrians travelling along Savile Road, will now look at this fountain through different eyes.

I also wish the people of Dewsbury, especially our local councillors, will feel an obligation to make sure it is well looked after."

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