Specialists behind the striking renovation of Edinburgh’s Ross Fountain have been drafted in to help save a historic Aberdeen water feature.
Lost Art have been hired to refurbish the Victoria Park fountain in Rosemount with hopes of its return to former glory by the end of the year – in the nick of time to properly celebrate the 150th anniversary of the park’s opening.
The Lancashire firm has spent the last two decades restoring more than 200 historic landmarks, mainly from the Victorian and Edwardian periods.
The ornate granite fountain has been out of action for years, having fallen into such disrepair that heritage watchdogs have placed it on the Buildings At Risk Register.
Volunteers from Friends Of Victoria And Westburn Park aim to raise around £150,000 for the refurbishment – and are delighted to have secured the “excellent skills” of Lost Art.
Friends association chairman Peter Stephen said: “It is good news that we have appointed a contractor to start work on the fountain, which will hopefully start very shortly.
“The plan is to have the fountain up and running towards the end of December.
“Lost Art are specialists and excellent at their skill.”
The Wigan firm took around a year to restore the photogenic Ross Fountain, beneath Edinburgh Castle in the capital’s Princes Street Gardens, in a project which cost £1.8 million.
The French-made 19th Century cast iron underwent “significant repairs” due to corrosion, before being being turned back on in June 2018.
Further north, Lost Art was commissioned to restore and install the centrepiece of the £2.9m Verdant Works museum in Dundee – a rare 1801 Boulton And Watt steam engine.
Their England-based experts caught the attention of tongue-in-cheek newspaper reporters in 2019, as they spent 10 weeks on a £260,000 project to renovate the bronze statue of Scots hero William Wallace at the National Wallace Monument in Stirling.
Victoria Park fountain: Iconic memento of the north-east’s quarrying past
The B-listed Victoria Park fountain is made from 14 types of granite – including from quarries in Rubislaw, Corrennie, Kemnay and Peterhead.
It was designed by John Birdgeford Pirie, the Aberdeen architect responsible for the Gothic churches at the Queen’s Cross and at Fraserburgh South, and gifted to the city by the Granite Polishers And Master Builders.
Originally, it was planned for Union Terrace Gardens.
Earlier this year, Friends Of Victoria And Westburn Park were awarded around £40,000 from Aberdeen’s Common Good Fund to take the group’s coffers over £100,000.
That six-figure milestone is enough to get work underway to dismantle it for re-piping and rewiring – as well as making its leaky main bowl watertight once again.
A number of granite bowls, which sat atop the lowest of its four tiers, will also need replaced, having gone missing over the years.
Mr Stephen said more money would have to be found for the next phase of the repairs, to the concrete steps and plinth surrounding the fountain.