Wooler residents launch fountain restoration bid

An impression of what the reinstated fountain in Wooler would look like.

An impression of what the reinstated fountain in Wooler would look like.

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Wooler residents have launched a bid to bring back and restore an elaborate fountain that once stood in the heart of the town.

Questions were raised about the old fountain - which stood in the market square before it was demolished in 1970 - after photographs of it were posted on the Wooler facebook page.

Group administrator Ursula Murray explained: “It started with photographs on the site - people were saying where has it gone, what happened to it? I’m in Rothbury now, but every time I go back to Wooler it doesn’t feel right without it.”

Erected in memory of William Wightman - an official of the Parish Guardians who was responsible for laying on a proper water supply in Wooler in the nineteenth century - the fountain was an elaborate decorated gothic-style structure in pink granite and sandstone, which stood proudly in the centre of the village.

When it was first erected in the late 1870s, the fountain was surrounded by railings. These were later replaced by seats and the fountain became a recognised meeting-point for the people of Wooler. “Both my grandfathers used to sit and smoke their pipes by the fountain, people would congregate there and chat, everybody did,” Ursula said.

But in the severe winter of 1966 cracks appeared in the pillars. On discovering that no one owned the structure, Glendale Council decided in 1970 to have it demolished.

All that remains today is a plaque in the wall which reads ‘this fountain was erected by public subscription in grateful acknowledgment of the many services rendered to this town and neighbouring by the late William Wightman. 1879’.

It is thought parts of the pillars lie near the original site in St Mary’s churchyard, and a dedicated team is now trying to find where the rest of the stones have gone.

With the help of people ‘on the ground’ in Wooler, armed with tape measures and clip boards, one man in America, Dave Lawrie, has put together technical drawings and impressions of the fountain, and how it would look back in situ.

“It seems to mean an awful lot to people,” Ursual said. “I think the next stage is to form a committee and assign the tasks. It’s going to be a long haul, but if we could get it back that would be wonderful.”

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