National Recording Project


Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Memorial Fountain to J.H. Rutherford


Type Fountain

     A red sandstone Renaissance-style memorial fountain, standing like a buoy at the top of the busy Bigg Market. It consists of an octagonal drinking trough from the centre of which rises a panelled plinth, surmounted by a concave base with gilded lions-head taps, then the main structure. Pilasters decorate the corners, between which are recessed panels with relief plaques of Newcastle's coat of arms, Band of Hope Union coat of arms, an English coat of arms, 'Water is Best', 'JHR' and 'BOHU', as well as an amount of leaf tracery. Above these runs the frieze with inscription, then a moulded entablature below a miniature pediment for each face. A cupola and finial top the monument.
     Paid for by public subscription, Rutherford's memorial was unveiled outside St. Nicholas' Cathedral by Joseph Cowen, and his speech subseqently printed in a pamphlet along with an engraving of the memorial. He is reported as saying that it was 'a visible invitation to all to practical temperance,' hoping that it would 'supply copious streams of that natural beverage whose consumption . . . would do much.' The monument was moved to the Bigg Market in 1903, ironically an area that, by the late twentieth century, has become notorious for its concentration of pubs and boisterous revelry. It had fallen into considerable disrepair by 1996 and was removed for conservation by the Council as part of its refurbishment plans for the Bigg Market, being reinstalled 100 metres further up the hill. Restoration was undertaken by Classic Masonry of Springwell Quarry, Gateshead. The newly reinstated stonework is a considerably lighter shade than before, but the carving is crisp and lettering has been picked out in gilding. New gilded lion's heads act as taps for a refreshing drink.
     J.H. Rutherford (1826-1890) was a Presbyterian Minister who founded Bath Lane Church in 1860 and set up a number of schools in Newcastle. Briefly involved in Liberal politics as an ally of Joseph Cowen, he promoted temperance and sanition reform. Over 5,000 people attended his funeral on 20th April 1890.(1)


Incised around frieze at top, Roman lettering: ERECTED BY THE BAND OF HOPE UNION IN MEMORY OF DR J.H. RUTHERFORD 1894 Incised on bottom of south face of plinth, Roman lettering: THIS FOUNTAIN WAS REMOVED / FROM ST. NICHOLAS SQUARE / AND ERECTED IN BIGG MARKET / 1901 / SIR JOHN BLYTH ESQ MAYOR Incised on bottom of north face of plinth, Roman lettering: PRESENTED TO THE CITY / UNVEILED BY JOSEPH COWAN / SEPT. 12 1894 / STEPHEN QUIN ESQ. MAYOR Incised on modern metal door to inner workings, bottom of north face of plinth: This fountain was restored and moved to its / present location in April 1998 with the / support of Northumbria Water. / Councillor Peter Laing / Chairman of Highways / and Transportation committee.

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Errington, Charles Designer

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Whole fountain Red sandstone, brass fittings 500cm high x 250cm square

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
General condition Good
Surface condition
Structural condition
Road Bigg Market
Precise location Junction with Grainger Street
A-Z ref 60 2C
OS ref None

Sorry, we have no precise geographical information for this item.

Date of design None
Year of unveiling 1894
Unveiling details Unveiled 12th September 1894
Commissioned by Public subscription
Duty of care Newcastle City Council
Listing status II
At risk? No known risk

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