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Tynemouth’s Two Fountains Need Restoring

17th August 2023 by Luan Hanratty

Tynemouth’s drinking fountains, built within a year of each other, in 1861 and 1862, were symbols of the town’s growth and were public luxuries in their day. Why is it then, that one of them lies permanently buried, while the other is partially defunct?

They need to be fully restored for the sake of Tynemouth’s heritage.

Venetian Clock Tower

This was built to represent Tynemouth’s role as a prosperous maritime enclave. The clock is in working order and the building seems to be reasonably looked after. As it’s made from sandstone, it is vulnerable to erosion, so upkeep is important, but two things could be improved:

  1. The tower ought to be illuminated at night to showcase it as the masterpiece of intricate gothic architecture that it is. This would really make it a focal point of the village.
  2. It ought to function as a drinking fountain, for people, but also for dogs, with the slight modification of a trough and drainage grill at the ground level.

Lion’s Head Fountain

This 10ft structure was a major attraction of Tynemouth. The fashion for drinking mineral-rich spring water came about in Victorian times and caused a craze across the country. This put Tynemouth well and truly on the map as it was blessed with its very own chalybeate spring on the Longsands.

The water is apparently not good for drinking nowadays, but why should this antique edifice languish beneath the sand like some kind of Ozymandias, a decayed memory of more glorious days…

Since we lost the Plaza, and while the Pool is a long way from restoration, you’d think the Council would do everything they could to promote what little remains of the the Longsands’ heyday. Instead, the last time the fountain was briefly dug out, they put forward the bizarre canard that it needs to stay buried in order to protect it.

Laughable.

These two fountains have been neglected. But the truth is, if you get the little things right in the village, the bigger things, like visitor numbers, will follow. This happens when people have more pride in the place and a brighter outlook generally.

Tynemouth as a village is not really complete without these two fountains. You can guarantee that if they were in the south of the country, they would be cherished. Why are they not here?

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