The John Bryan Fountain

John Bryan was born in 1835 in Oakham. By 1841 he had moved to Kettering and by the age of 26, having become a shoe manufacturer, he had various factories in the town. His first factory was on Bakehouse Hill in 1861. In 1888 he moved to the Nelson shoe works on the corner of Nelson Street and Havelock Street. He very quickly outgrew these premises, and in 1895 he opened a much larger factory in Trafalgar Road called the Nelson Shoe Works of Bryan & Sons Ltd. He used the profits from his factories to buy land in the town and built his own house in Rockingham Road, called Rockingham House.

In 1890 plans were presented to the local board to purchase land from John Bryan and a Mr Nunnelly for a park to be known as the Pleasure Park, situated at the north end of the town. The public opening of the park was on 12 May 1894 and in August that year Bryan proposed that a drinking fountain be installed at his own expense. The Fountain chosen was design number 19, advertised by Walter Macfarlane and Co, to be used as a standalone Fountain, manufactured by the Saracen foundry in Glasgow. The cast iron font is 10’10” high and is seated in a two-tiered circular plinth. The wide base is in the form of a St Andrews Cross, on which is set a circular shaft ornamented with waterlilies. Four lion jambs support four highly decorated quatrefoil basins. The obelisk in the central column is decorated with floral relief hosts, and a dedication shield: presented by John Bryan Esq 26 of October 1894. The capital supports the finial, a Statue of Samson. The cost of this Fountain in 1894 was £59.

The Fountain was erected in the park and officially unveiled on 26 October 1894 and remained in the park until 1972 when vandalism and neglect forced it to be taken down. In 1980 a local group proposed raising sufficient funds to repair the Fountain and put it back on display in the town. Various events were held to raise money including the auction of a painting of the Fountain by local artist Ralph Hartley. It was decided that the site for the newly restored Fountain would be the former site of the old Parish Church School on the Horsemarket.

The Fountain was duly erected on 11 May 1985.

Researched by David Brown

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