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Aberdeen’s Victoria Park fountain back in full flow after £137k restoration

The Victoria Park fountain is back on after its £137,000 restoration.
The Victoria Park fountain is back on after its £137,000 restoration.

A near-150-year-old fountain is back in full flow for the first time in more than a decade after a £137,000 refurbishment.

The Victoria Park fountain in Rosemount, Aberdeen, had fallen into such disrepair that it was placed on Scotland’s buildings at risk register.

But now the taps have been turned back on in the historic A-listed fountain after months of work through the winter.

Acclaimed firm brought in for Victoria Park fountain restoration

Specialist restorers Lost Art was brought in by Friends of Westburn and Victoria Park in September to return the water feature to its former glory.

It was made out of 14 granites from quarries around the north-east, including Rubislaw, Corrennie, Kemnay and Peterhead.

Having been originally designed for Union Terrace Gardens by John Bridgeford Pirie, the Aberdeen architect behind the Gothic church at Queen’s Cross, it was gifted to the city in 1878 by the Granite Polishers and Master Builders.

Fundraising for the project took years, being bolstered to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds from the city’s Common Good Fund, Lottery funding and money from the Scottish Government in recent council budgets.

WATCH: The Victoria Park fountain in full flow after its £137k restoration

Victoria Park volunteers ‘really delighted’ with fountain restoration

Peter Stephen, the chairman of the Friends of Westburn and Victoria Park association, said the volunteers were “really delighted” at having the fountain up and running.

Victoria Park fountain restoration: Peter Stephen, chairman of the Friends Of Victoria And Westburn Park group with fellow volunteers Etta Haw, Liz Jackson, Barbara Bulmen and Sanders Paterson. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.
Peter Stephen, chairman of the Friends Of Victoria And Westburn Park group, with fellow volunteers Etta Haw, Liz Jackson, Barbara Bulmen and Sanders Paterson. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.

“Many of us have never actually seen the fountain working before and it’s absolutely beautiful,” he said.

“We are extremely proud to get this up and going – and we are especially proud of our secretary Janice Lyon, who put in a mountain of work in chasing funding and keeping the project going through many years of hard work.

Lost Art and in fact all the trades – from stonemasons right through to our architect – have taken great care with it.

“And of course, this has all been done through the eyes of Covid.”

Delicate restoration work delayed fountain reopening

Work included replacing four of the ornate granite bowls on the lowest of its four tiers, as well as rewiring and making it all watertight.

A splashing time was enjoyed in the summer sunshine by these fountain frolickers in Aberdeen's Victoria Park in July 1976. Picture from The Press And Journal, July 6 1976.
A splashing time was enjoyed in the summer sunshine by these fountain frolickers in Aberdeen’s Victoria Park in July 1976. Picture from The Press And Journal, July 6 1976.

The friends group had hoped to have water flowing by the end of 2021 but the intricacy of the work meant that wasn’t possible.

Producing replacement pieces that had gone missing over the years held contractors up and there was a final wait for the recent cold snap to end.

Temperatures needed to be above freezing for the watertight seal to be applied.

Work also included delicate cleaning and repairing of the carved stonework and decorative copper elements using bristle brushes and steam, replacement of the aged and failed filtration system with a modern, energy-efficient system, and modern cement pointing was replaced with traditional lime-based mortar.

Plans for an official opening are in the pipeline but volunteers first want the concrete steps surrounding the base of the water feature to be repaired and replaced as needed.

Next year will mark 150 years from the opening of the park, which was named in honour of the long-reigning monarch in 1873.

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