The Civic Trust is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a major grant of £34,000 towards the Sleaford Bristol Water Project. This is in addition to a sum of £6,200 from local sources.
In the 1830’s, the River Slea was the major source of water for residents and in many cases, was highly contaminated by sewage resulting in numerous cases of cholera and typhoid. This led to increased mortality and reduced life expectancy, especially amongst the poor, many of whom died in their early 30’s. The Bristol Water Fountain was built to celebrate the Sixth Earl and Second Marquess of Bristol by his local tenants. It is a reminder of the significant influence that the Bristol family had in Sleaford. The water fountain was designed by Charles Kirk and Son, Architects, and built in the Market Square in the centre of Sleaford, in front of the former Town Hall and Sessions House. Work was started in April and completed in October 1874, although it took longer to connect the water supply. The canopy has a shield of the Bristol coat of arms and a carved inscription, “In memory of William, Sixth Earl and the Second Marquess of Bristol, by a few of his Lincolnshire tenants, erected in the year of our Lord, 1874.” The initial water supply came from a spring in the courtyard of what is now Lloyds bank. However the water supply always had problems with contamination and also vandalism when, in 1875, someone blocked the pipe with a pebble! The Water Fountain was finally closed in 1927 and has been disused since; sadly, many residents are not aware of the fountain at all and certainly not of its important history in the town.
The Water Fountain has stone foundations, four polished granite columns with stone bases, intricate stone carving with a Gothic style canopy of Ancaster limestone and a stone slate pyramid roof. The fountain is a Listed Grade 2 building and local heritage asset. Sleaford Civic Trust is to run a project with Sleaford Town Council, North Kesteven District Council and Sleaford Museum to restore the Bristol Water Fountain to full working order. The fountain will supply fresh drinking water and be gently lit into the evenings. It will hopefully also contribute to the reduction of plastic bottles!
The project will include outreach work with local schools, organised by Sleaford Museum, to show the history of drinking water in towns and how the fountain will help to reduce the use of plastic bottles. It is planned that work will start in the Spring, and building work will be finished by Summer 2019. The works being carried out will surely make this structure, once more, a major and visible feature of Sleaford’s landscape.
Click HERE to view our Gallery page for more images of the restoration in progress and the opening by the 8th Marquess of Bristol, Frederick Hervey, and his wife Meredith.