The Faraday Fountain
in the Manor House Gardens

In 1931, this fountain was installed to mark the Centenary of Scientist Michael Faraday and his work on Electromagnetism.

Lots of our historical lauded scientists came from wealthy families, attending university and not needing to work for a living. Not so Faraday. Faraday’s story in science begins when working as an apprentice bookbinder, where he taught himself by reading the books around him. A bookshop customer gave him tickets to lectures about Chemistry and Electricity. The lecturer, Humphrey Davies, was amazed to see the lecture notes Faraday had made. Davies took Faraday on as his Lab Technician and recommended him for the same role at the prestigious Royal Institution. Many years and discoveries later, Faraday ended up as a Fullarian Professor of Chemistry, giving public lectures and inspiring later scientists like Einstein. Faraday was responsible for many incredible scientific discoveries. The relevance for our fountain is that he had the idea that electricity was a sort of vibration, carried through the air as magnetism. This underlying principle led to the everywhere.

Kettering was an early adopter of electricity. 1901 saw the first electrical supply to Kettering consumers and a coal fired generator was built on Rockingham Rd, where Sainsbury Supermarket is today. This was expanded over the next two decades, with further supply coming from Northampton. Faraday was idealised as the founding father of this transformative electrical technology. 21st September 1931 was the centenary of Faraday’s discovery of electromagnetic induction, celebrated all over the UK. After some discussion, Kettering Urban District Council agreed to the installation of the Faraday Fountain in the Manor House Gardens. It cost around £350 and paid for by profits from Kettering Urban District Council’s Electricity Department (who ran the generator on Rockingham Road). On Faraday’s Centenary, a ceremony was held and the fountain handed over to the town.

By the early 1980’s, the fountain had fallen into a state of disrepair. In 1986 Kettering Civic Society and Kettering Borough Council combined with donations from local companies and individuals, funded refurbishment. Using images of the fountain seen above, the council’s technical department and the Civic Society worked together to commission sympathetic manufacture a new centre piece, base and concrete surround, alongside mechanical equipment overhaul and a new pump.

Researched by Rah Flynn
(C 1965, photo credit Martin Rose, Kettering Community Board Facebook Page)

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