A double life-size bronze bust of Coulson swathed in a cloak is set upon a concrete pedestal, over which his cloak hangs down. The modelling is in the New Sculpture manner, the loose folds and organic bulk being similar to the work of Rodin. The pedestal stands on a large block of stone, which has been reconstituted with concrete, and the whole is set upon the original pink granite base with drinking troughs to front and rear. Newly carved lions' heads are attached over each basin.
A memorial to Colonel Coulson was suggested by George Grahame, the First Secretary to the British Embassy in Paris, in a letter to Newcastle City Council read out to members in October 1911. Mr Grahame indicated that he would be willing to donate £300 towards a fountain (at which cattle could drink) carrying a portrait medallion.(3)
By January 1912 the council was recommended to place the monument at the junction of Marlborough Crescent and Scotswood Road, but the Memorial Fund Committee did not feel this was suitable.(4) A site on Haymarket, opposite St. Thomas's Street, was finally chosen in April, but arguments ensued over the potential spread of disease from a cattle trough, and the cost of supplying water to it.(5) However, these were eventually overcome and the monument was installed nearer to the Boer War Memorial than the council proceedings had indicated.(6)
The memorial fountain was unveiled by the Lord Mayor before a large crowd on 27th May 1914. Sir Alfred Palmer, chairman of the Memorial Committee, said that Coulson had been 'worthy of every honour' and was 'no mere theorist' in his interest for 'dumb animals'. In accepting the memorial, the Lord Mayor said that 'it might with confidence be stated that it would be well kept by the Corporation' in the future.(7)
By the 1930s the corner of Haymarket was becoming extremely congested and it was proposed to move the monument 50 yards further down Percy Street. Other suggestions included resiting it to a park, but this was not felt to be appropriate. As far as can be ascertained, the memorial was moved as proposed, but was then re-sited to its current location in 1950. Having been moved several times in its life, it is not surprising that the stonework had suffered along the way. Substantial cracks and stone weathering were sympathetically restorated in 1998 and the monument now stands as a landmark above a modern housing development on the Quayside.
William Lisle Blenkinsopp Coulson (1840-1911) was a prominent figure in the area, known for his 'untiring efforts for the kindly treatment of animals' and for the unusual plaid that he habitually dressed in. Born in Haltwhistle, he served in the army from 1860 to 1892, retiring as a colonel. Subsequently he served as a magistrate and on the boards of many charities concerning themselves with child and animal welfare. He toured schools and borstals throughout the country giving lectures on morality, and published essays on the welfare of children and women, and 'Musings on Moor and Fell'.(1)He died in Newbrough, Northumberland, leaving a wife and daughter.(2)
Incised on front face of pedestal, Roman lettering: WILLIAM LISLE BLENKINSOPP / COULSON / 1841-1911 / ERECTED BY PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION / IN MEMORY OF HIS EFFORTS / TO ASSIST THE WEAK AND DEFENCELESS / AMONG MANKIND AND IN THE ANIMAL WORLD.
Incised on rear face of pedestal: "WHAT IS REALLY NEEDED IS AN ALLROUND / EDUCATION OF THE HIGHER IMPULSES / TRUE MANLINESS, / JUSTICE, AND PITY. / TO TRY TO PROMOTE THESE HAS BEEN / MY HUMBLE BUT EARNEST ENDEAVOUR, AND UNTIL / THEY ARE MORE GENUINELY AROUSED, / THE LEGISLATURE IS USELESS, / FOR IT IS THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THE LAWS" / (W.L.B.C.) / UNVEILED 27TH MAY 1914, / BY THE RIGHT HONOURABLE / JOHNSTON WALLACE, LORD MAYOR. / HERBERT SHAW. SHERIFF. / A.M. OLIVER, TOWN CLERK.
PMSA recording information