Money is flooding in to give Hull’s fountains a flourish

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A GROUP is more than a third of the way to achieving its aim to reinstate a turn of the century fountain which used to grace a Hull conservation area, following an anonymous £5,000 donation.

The fund started on donations made at Philip Larkin’s publisher Jean Hartley’s memorial service and the words of Larkin’s poem Water will be inscribed on the fountain in Victoria Avenue when it finally goes up - hopefully in 2017, the year the city celebrates City of Culture.

The fountain used to sit on the roundabout at the junction between Victoria Avenue and Salisbury Street in the Avenues, an area of attractive tree-lined avenues, which has been dubbed Hull’s Muesli belt.

The estate, which contains listed buildings by the architect George Gilbert Scott the Younger, was opened in 1875 by the developer David Parkinson Garbutt.

Then on the outskirts of the city he wanted somewhere people could come and breathe fresh air.

A photograph shows that by 1926 the fountain was becoming dilapidated, contained no water and some of the sea serpents at its base were missing and it was later taken out to make it easier access for drivers, although the roundabout was later reinstated.

Victoria Fountain secretary Jacky Ward-Lomax said they had received a number of donations, including an anonymous £5,000 in recent weeks.

The Avenues and Pearson Park Residents’ Association has also contributed £4,000 and combined with successful garage sales and quiz nights, the total now stands at £31,000 - a good step towards the ultimate goal of £85,000.

Ms Ward-Lomax, an artist, said: “The whole idea of it really was started by Philip Larkin’s poem Water. His publisher, Jean Hartley lived 10 doors down from here and her greatest wish was to have a water feature for Philip Larkin, somewhere in Hull. The poem will be written on the fountain.”

The Victoria Fountain group surveyed homes in Victoria Avenue and parts of Salisbury Street and Ella Street in June.

Almost half of households responded, of which an overwhelming majority, 98.8 per cent, were in favour of a fountain, most favouring one of carved stone in the style of the original.

Ms Ward-Lomax said it would have to be built of marble or granite as cast iron could cost as much as £280,000 - and it would probably have to be carved in China or India to save on cost. It will have three tiers, and unlike the fountains on Park and Westbourne Avenues, which sport mermaids, will have sea serpents spouting water.

Ms Ward-Lomax said people had questioned the expense of the fountain when so many were in need of aid, but said: “It hurts me to see something looking distressed. I can see it in my mind’s eye with the sun setting in the west shining through the water.

“It is clear the project has enormous support. The sum raised towards the restoration of the Victoria Fountain has shown a magnificent increase this year. With Hull’s City of Culture Year, 2017 on the horizon, we are hoping to install the new fountain as a lasting legacy to Hull’s year in the sun.”

The group is holding one of its popular fund-raising meal and quiz nights on September 30 at Larkin’s Bar on Newland Avenue.

The meal starts at 6pm, with the quiz at 7.30pm. To book call Larkin’s on 01482 440991.