Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Clevedon, Somerset


Watering place

In spite of the two previous brewery posts, I have a liking for small structures. I’m also an admirer of the work of the Doulton ceramics company, especially the wares that they produced in their Lambeth factory on the south bank of the Thames and that are often used as facing on buildings. So I was pleased, visiting Clevedon to look at the pier, to come across this, surely one of the smallest of listed structures, a Doulton drinking fountain erected by a Mr Sheldon in 1895.

As well as their large and lucrative business in domestic pottery (everything from vases to beer jugs, ash trays to loving cups), Doultons made all kinds of goods connected with the supply of water – plain earthenware pipes, more decorative jugs, water filters, drinking fountains, and so on and on. This one is typical of their wares of the 1890s – some flowers and foliage hinting at Art Nouveau, a pleasant and rich palette of greens, blues, and browns, a profusion of architectural decorations, from the plain base to the fancy finial. Altogether a refreshing surprise.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I recognise the fountain. Clevedon, and nearby Weston, have many delightful buildings, as you no doubt found. Portishead is worth a visit too, particularly Woodhill Road and the large villas in Woodlands Road.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thank you. I only had a brief stop-off in Clevedon on my way somewhere else, but I plan to return when I have more time and also to look at Portishead, where I've never been.

Vinogirl said...

Oh, fabulous. I love drinking fountains...there were some great ones spotted around Liverpool in my childhood.

martin said...

It's a wonderful object. A piece of art that dispenses water. The perfect marriage between the aesthetic and the practical.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Vinogirl: There are lots of amazing buildings in Liverpool - an interesting place to grow up. By the way, there was a good little book by Philip Davies called Troughs and Drinking Fountains published in the 1980s.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Martin: Exactly! I always think that Doulton's work exemplified the marriage of art and industry that the Victorians were so fond of, especially in objects like this drinking fountain.

ChrisP said...

It's more than linking the aesthetic and practical - it's a spiritual thing too. A modern reincarnation of the ancient practice of decorating springs and wells to appease the water gods.
Do they still dress wells?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Chris: You're quite right. As far as I recall they still dress wells in Derbyshire, making those incredibly intricate patterns with flowers. There are also less formal well- and spring-dressings that go on in the town of Malvern in Worcestershire, and no doubt in other places too.

Anonymous said...

The Clevedon fountain near the pier is a delightful and cherished object. Rather less cherished is the horse trough hidden under the trees in the crook of Marine Hill, about 200yds away.

Also, try searching for "Clevedon Rooftops" on flickr, for a picturesque jumble.

If your next visit to the Bristol channel coast is limited then concentrate on the Hans Price buildings in Weston (there are some in Clevedon too). I'd also recommend The Flipper in St James Street, just off Regent Street, for lunch.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Anon: Thank you, all these are noted for future visits.

Peter Ashley said...

I always think I've finally arrived in the West Country when I see Clevedon's fabulous waterworks from the heights of the M5 that runs right next to it.

Anonymous said...

The M5 itself, on its split level viaduct near Weston in Gordano, is a rather beautiful sight and enhances the landscape in a way that railway viaducts do. And yes, the waterworks/pumping station near Jct 20 is something special.