Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Ghostly Greyhound

A ghostly figure emerges from the wall by a Victorian fountain but alas water no longer runs or perhaps it still flows in the world beyond the veil, the man looks straight at us but the dog is more interested in quenching its thirst (or perhaps trying to extricate itself from the wall).  There was plenty of water around when I took the photograph on a grey day but it was all coming from the sky.  The figures were created by John McKenna as part of the Quest art trail project in Whitehaven, Cumbria.  It portrays the ghost of a miner and his whippet but of course I could not resist the alliteration of ghostly greyhound in my title and indeed whippets are descended from the greyhound but are a smaller dog.

The sculpture was installed in 2000 but as can be seen the fountain is dated 1859.  The provision of clean water was part of the Public Health Act of 1848, one effect of which was the appearance of drinking fountains in cities and towns.  Whitehaven originally had six or seven but I think this is the only one that survives.  The first fountain was paid for by the Society of Rechobites, a temperance movement, but this particular one was paid for by the local Water Committee.  The town itself started life as a small fishing village, expanded to a port and with the coming of the Industrial Revolution grew even larger.  One of the movers and shakers of earlier times was Sir John Lowther (1642-1705) who designed the layout of Whitehaven in a grid pattern and it is considered one of the first "post Renaissance planned towns in Britain".  The fountain is located on one of those wide straight street so what else is could it be called but Lowther Street but it was also where Rosina Murray, who lobbied successfully for fountains to be installed, lived.  The fountain features the Lowther coat of arms which was incorporated into Whitehaven's crest,
here seen on the side of the Civic Centre.  A dragon appears on the top of the Lowther coat of arms however the council say their mythical beast is a griffin. The motto is 'Concilio Absit Discordia' - "Let discord be absent from your deliberations"  so no doubt there can be an amicable discussion about the difference between a griffin and a dragon.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at G here




Photo Cache said...

That is way too cool.


Roger Owen Green said...

interesting story behind that.


sarala said...

Great bit of history. I like how well the modern art is juxtaposed with the old fountain. Happy Wednesday.

retriever said...

Interesting story,

Greeting from Belgium


Reader Wil said...

The statue is great and it is interesting so that everybody wants to know the story behind it.
Have a great week.
Wil, ABCW.