The Fishwives Fountain

— #17 The Old Burial Ground

Overview The Chapel The Fishwives Fountain

An Act of Kindness

The donation of a drinking fountain is an act of kindness set in stone. This is the one we used to have at Anchorfield on the pavement beside a wee viewpoint at the end of the promenade leading to Leith.  A pink granite cylinder capped by a granite dome perched on three legs.  This covered the water jet to stop seagulls fouling it.

It wasn’t big or monumental, just solid, serviceable and enduring. But, like the boats and the fishermen, it had vanished.  The stramash of redeveloping and reclaiming the foreshore, together with re-aligning Lindsay Road to improve the flow of traffic, had spirited it away. The viewpoint was seen as surplus to requirements. It was shaved off the road and the fountain went with it.

3_5114 The Drinking Fountain sitting on the Anchorfield Promenade

The drinking fountain had been placed there in 1910 by the Devlin family, who owned a fleet of trawlers, at the same time as they provided the large ornamental fountain in Starbank Park.  These acts of largesse were made in gratitude to the fisherfolk of Newhaven who helped them make a living by crewing the boats which caught, and the fishwives who sold the hard-won fish. The small fountain was used by the fishwives on their way to and from selling their fish in Edinburgh and beyond.

It was recently discovered, unloved and with its domed cap missing, by Brick and Stone of Broxburn, who had been contracted to clear the Sighthill council yard.  As can be seen in the photo, the inscription was badly abraded — possibly by someone who had eyes on it for their own purposes — but some of the words were still legible. Researching what was left of the inscription they identified it as belonging in Newhaven and kindly gifted it to Newhaven Heritage.

IMG_2333 The fountain in its place, soon to be adorned with a memorial sculpture commemorating Newhaven's lost fishermen.
The day the Fountain came home — bottom right photo: The Newhaven Heritage Welcome Party — (l to r): Dougie, Harry, George, Gordon and Jeff