The Yeadon Drinking Fountain



There has always been interest, speculation and a certain amount of intrigue about the Jubilee Drinking fountain that was positioned at what is now known as The Fountain Cross Roads.

Rumours and stories are plentiful about the final demise of our fountain and interest has  not only been evident from local residents but also from further afield such as St. Anne’s in Lancashire and from other parts of the country.

The origins of both St. Anne’s fountain and Yeadon’s fountain continue to generate much interest in both communities, insomuch that the local paper at St. Anne’s, The Express, ran an article on Thursday January 7th 2010 which showed pictures of both fountains and the obvious differences between the two of them and also asked for any information about the history of  either fountain.

Following is a history and background information about our fountain, collected to date, but which is continuing to grow in length as more information becomes available.

The information contained in this history is taken either word for word from available reference sources or is given in note form taken directly from documents readily available to the public.


The fountain and the plane trees along Victoria Avenue were a gift from Mrs. Thomas Brown of Bramley in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and as a memorial to her late husband, Thomas Brown, owner of  Kirk Lane Mill in Yeadon.

The Ilkley Gazette                Saturday June 12th 1897
Yeadon-handsome gift.   Mrs. Thomas Brown of Mount Cross Bramley has offered to give £500 to the Yeadon District Council for the purpose of planting trees to form an Avenue on the Dudley Hill and Killinghall main road from Four Lane Ends, near the Peacock Inn to Coney Lodge bridge, a point just beyond the Long Stoop. Mrs. Brown gives this sum as a memorial to her late husband and as a Diamond Jubilee gift to the township of Yeadon. At a meeting of the District Council on Friday night the offer was accepted and the clerk authorised to write thanking Mrs. Brown on behalf of the inhabitants and stating that the Council would use every endeavour to carry out her wishes.

The Ilkley Gazette                Saturday October 23rd 1897
Tree planting on the roads at Yeadon
The planting of the trees along the sides of the Dudley Hill and Killinghall main road, from Four Lane Ends to by the Stoop Yeadon, has commenced this week and rapid progress is being made with the work. Mrs. Thomas Brown of Mount Cross, Bramley who is defraying the whole of the cost as a Diamond Jubilee gift in memory of her late husband planted the first tree. What are known as Western Plane trees are being used, these being about ten feet high and the work is being carried out under the superintendence of Mrs. Brown’s gardener.

The fountain for Yeadon was ordered and paid for by Mrs. Brown from the firm of Walter MacFarlane of Glasgow in their Saracen Foundry, which no longer exists.
The name of the original company was bought by the Glasgow firm of “Heritage Engineering” in 1993 which was a family firm and  which was then sold in 2004 and, unfortunately, has since gone bust. What records remain and the bulk of the information held by that firm was mainly catalogues.
The original firm of Walter MacFarlane supplied orders for their work all over the world, the Yeadon Fountain was made to a Pattern No. 18, of which they cast variants. Similar fountains, all variants, have been located at:    Ardersier in Scotland, Stowmarket, Haddington East Lothian,Wagin, Western Australia and St. Anne’s in Lancashire, which has been the subject of intrigue for some time. It appears that all the fountains were made to the Pattern No.18 but with differing design to their upper halves, perhaps to the local authority specifications?

The following articles about the Jubilee Fountain were printed in The Airedale and Wharfedale Observer in the year 1897.

Friday December 3rd 1897
Mrs. E. Brown, Mount Cross, Bramley wrote that she had agreed with the Water Works Co. for a supply of water to the fountain which she proposed to erect in the Avenue, and the order for the fountain had been placed. Mrs. Brown also sent a copy of the inscription which she proposed to place on the fountain,- it was incidentally mentioned that the fountain can be erected by that time, the public opening of the Avenue would take place on the 18th inst.

Friday December 17th 1897
The Victoria Avenue – Up to the time of going to press it seems to be extremely improbable that the avenue will be opened tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon, as previously announced, insomuch as the fountain which Mrs. Brown proposes to erect in the Avenue has not yet arrived.

Friday December 31st 1897
The Victoria Avenue – We are informed that the formal opening of the avenue has been fixed for Saturday afternoon, the 8th inst. After the ceremony the members of the District Council, officials and friends will dine together, and in the evening there will be a free concert and dance in the Town Hall.

The opening of the newly named Victoria Avenue and the dedication of  the Yeadon Jubilee Fountain was performed on the 8th January 1898, slightly later than planned but with great ceremony. The following head lines and notes were taken from The Airedale and Wharfedale Observer.

Friday January14th 1898
Yeadon’s Avenue and Drinking Fountain.
There was a grand demonstration, opening and dedication by Mrs. Brown, the donor.
There was a presentation of an address to Mrs. Brown.
After the ceremony there was a free concert and dance (in the Town Hall)
There was also a portrait and memoir of the late Mr. Brown.

A grand demonstration took place at Yeadon on Saturday afternoon last (8th January 1898)
The cost of the trees and protection of iron guards as well as the drinking fountain was defrayed by Mrs. Brown.
The trees and the fountain were in memory of Mr. Thomas Brown, manufacturer of Kirk Lane Mills, Yeadon and also in commemoration of her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee.
There was an assembly at Town Hall Square and a procession up the High Street which was lined with spectators.

The Drinking Fountain.
The fountain was supplied by Messrs. Walter Macfarlane and Company of Saracen Foundry – Glasgow.
It is about 6 feet in height and has four cups and a trough.
The present directors of the Yeadon Water Works Company have agreed to supply the water free of charge during the term of their office.

A brass plate was positioned on the front of the fountain and is still in existence being positioned above the booking office in the Town Hall.
It bears the following inscription;

This fountain was given and the trees along the road were planted and given to the Urban District Council of Yeadon by Mrs. Brown of Mount Cross, Bramley to form an Avenue to be called “Victoria Avenue” in memory of her late husband, Thomas Brown of Mount Cross, Bramley and Kirk Lane Mills, Yeadon;  also to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria. 1897.

Yeadon Drinking Fountain Plaque which still remains

The Procession.
The procession was marshalled by Mr. Lund in the Town Hall Square. The Yeadon Prize Band took the lead followed by a number of carriages.

Mrs. Brown declared the Avenue open adding that she gave both the Avenue and the Fountain over to the Urban District Council for the benefit of the people of  Yeadon.

The following is an extract taken some years later from The Airedale and Wharfedale Observer.

Friday January 21st 1908
The Drinking Fountain – Since it was placed in position at Four Lane Ends, the drinking fountain has been visited and inspected by large numbers of visitors, and although perhaps in the eyes of some, it does not occupy so elevated a position as they would like, yet on the whole general satisfaction has been expressed with it’s appearance and during the summer season especially it will undoubtedly serve a very useful purpose.
We regret to record that one night last week some mischievous  or ill-disposed person or persons lifted off the ornamental top and placed it on the road way. Fortunately it was discovered before any damage was done, and replaced in it’s position. The incident was reported to the members of  the District Council, who have placed the matter in the hands of the police, with strict instructions to take proceedings against anyone known to tamper with the fountain in any way but the legitimate purpose for which it is intended.

Very little or practically no information can be found about the fountain after 1908, until 1944
The following passages were taken from The Aireborough UDC Minutes Book.

AUDC Minute Book 1944 – 1945 (May/April)

24-5-44        Page 59-item 23
Resolved; That the Surveyor make enquiries as to the possibilities of purchasing a new drinking fountain to replace the Yeadon Fountain now damaged beyond repair.

21-6-44        Page 117-item 32
The clerk reported that the resolution passed at the previous meeting of the Committee with reference to the Yeadon Drinking Fountain had been referred back.
Resolved;   That the clerk inform the donors of the Yeadon Drinking  Fountain of the damage which it has sustained and of it’s removal and ask for any observations they may have to make on the question of it’s replacement.

12-7-44        Page 164-item 39
Yeadon Drinking Fountain
The clerk reported that as a result of enquiries which he had made, it now seemed clear that there were no direct representatives of the original donors of The Yeadon Drinking Fountain still alive.
Resolved;   That application be made to the Public Building, Parks and Cemeteries Committee for authority to move the drinking fountain in Dam Lane , Yeadon for the purpose of it’s re-erection on the site of the old drinking fountain at the fountain cross roads.

13-7-44        Page 171-item 80
Any Other Business
The Yeadon Drinking Fountain
The clerk reported an application from the Highways and Lighting Committee for authority to move the drinking fountain in Dam Lane, Yeadon for the purpose of it’s re-erection on the site of the old drinking fountain at Fountain cross roads.

It becomes clear that the Fountain was damaged, beyond repair prior to 24-5-44 and replacing it with a fountain from Dam Lane (The Tarn?) was considered, whether this actually happened is still unclear.
Further information about “a fountain” was obtained from the Minute Book of the following year.

AUDC Minute Book 1945/1946

18-4-45        Page 30-item 30
Any Other Business
Yeadon Fountain
Councillor Lockwood stated that it had been reported to him that the Yeadon Fountain was not working and the Surveyor was requested to look into this complaint.

23-5-45        Page 69-item 32(2)
Yeadon Fountain
Councillor Lockwood reported that the Yeadon Fountain was not yet functioning and the surveyor reported on the difficulties which had arisen.


Old Aireborough
compiled by The Aireborough and Horsforth Museum Society

More of Old Aireborough
Compiled by The Aireborough and Horsforth Museum Society

Round and About Aireborough         Volumes 1,2, 3 and 4
Martin Rigg

Yeadon Yorkshire
T. Illingworth

The Ilkley Gazette

The Airedale and Wharfedale Observer

West Yorkshire Archive Service

St. Anne’s Civic Society

St. Anne’s Community History Manager

Heritage Engineering

Scottish Iron Work


Even today there is doubt and alternative views about the final demise of our fountain. Some stories say that it was scrapped at the beginning of the last war for the war effort. Another story tells of an RAF lorry damaging it “beyond repair” and it then being scrapped. This version would tie in with the AUDC minutes contained in this history but the mystery continues as it is believed it ended up in a local councillor’s garden for a time before going into the Council yard (in Rawdon?) and then ending up in a metal scrap yard at Ellar Gyll. No mention of the final out-come of the fountain can be found in the Council Minute books nor were there any reports of the RAF lorry crash in the Airedale and Wharfedale Observer at that time, i.e. prior to May 1944.
Another mystery surrounding the Yeadon Fountain is the number of drinking cups it had. It was reported in the Airedale and Wharfedale Observer of Friday January 14th 1898 following the opening and dedication of the fountain on the previous Saturday (the 8th) that “It is about 6 feet in height and has four cups and a trough”  From the photograph in the same edition as the article, it can be seen that the fountain does not have any arms protruding from the ornamental top together with chains carrying four cups. Subsequent pictures show the fountain has at least one arm, chain and cup. These pictures can be seen in Round and About Aireborough vols 1,2,3 and 4, by Martin Rigg and also in Old Aireborough compiled by Aireborough and Horsforth Museum Society. This enigma is made more complex with the fact that the St. Anne’s fountain in Lancashire does have four arms and cups! and that there has been some questioning by some, that the St. Anne.s fountain originated at Yeadon.
The last mystery is about the replacement fountain that was proposed to be re-moved from Dam Lane in Yeadon and re-erected to the site of the original cross roads fountain, as mentioned in the AUDC minutes of  13-7-1944. No-body seems to remember this actually taking place and from personal experience I can remember that there has been a smaller drinking fountain at the Tarn (Dam) since the 1950’s.

Postcard pictures can be seen on the internet showing the St. Anne’s fountain, dated 1900, 1907 and 1910. Although the pictures are not well defined (on the internet) they can be recognised as resembling our Yeadon Fountain! This would seemingly dispel any rumour that there was only one fountain.

One further interesting fact that has come to our attention is that Dick Gibbon (1908-1993) a past Councillor of the old Yeadon Urban District Council carried out substantial research on Yeadon Fountain in the past. He was apparently in communication with St. Anne’s Council and even obtained an agreement to borrow St. Annes fountain to show in Yeadon, but this was never taken up. There is a carved stone memorial to Dick Gibbon in Dog Mill Park, Yeadon.

Although further enquiries are continuing in order that facts and  references can be followed up and confirmed, information is most welcome from any interested person who may hold any details at all about our fountain.

Roger Davis.
July 2010