The Prince's Fountain, Southend
by Carol Powell M.A.
The Prince's Fountain
Mumbles people all recognise the now-neglected landmark fountain near the Rugby Club, but perhaps not many realise its original purpose. It was decided to mark the marriage on 10 March 1863, of the then Prince of Wales (later to be King Edward VII) to Princess Alexandra of Denmark, in a way in which the village would benefit too. As clean drinking water was coming to be seen as an important priority in the battle for public health, a communal fountain was decided upon for a village that, as yet, had no proper water supplies.
The drinking fountain and Plaque
The villagers celebrated the wedding in style. All the houses and boats in the bay were decked out with flags and bunting. The focus of the celebrations was the laying of the Fountain’s foundation stone with seven hundred children of the Parish taking part in the ceremony, which ended with the singing of ‘God Save the Queen’. They were then formed into processions and marched through the village to the British (site of today’s library) and National (in the Churchrooms) schools, where they partook of generous supplies of cake and tea. Later, they were entertained on the open fields opposite the White Rose.
Additionally, the villagers decided to hold a dinner for 200 ‘aged poor’ of the Parish, paid for by public subscription. The ages of the 200 old people at the fountain ceremony were:-one over 100, 13 over 80, 45 between 70 and 80, 53 between 60 and 70. Combined ages were 12,892 years. It was also held in the British Schoolroom, which had been decorated for the occasion. The Cambrian News told of souvenir tickets printed in gold on a royal blue background being issued and delivered to each recipient in their homes by Mr. Colston, the Headmaster of Thistleboon School. Some old folk were so infirm that they could not attend, but these were delivered of their dinner and a bottle of ‘good beer’ at home. The guests who attended were waited upon by several eminent people from the village.
The dinner, provided by Mr. Knight of the Mermaid, consisted of roast beef and pork and boiled beef together with bread, potatoes, carrots, greens or turnips followed by plum-pudding and brandy sauce. Mr. Orrin’s band was in attendance and the old people declared that it was the best day they had ever spent!
A year later on 28 March 1864, the completed fountain was handed over by ‘the Committee of Management’ to its future custodians, the Rev. Samuel Davies, Rector of all Saints Church and the Churchwardens, R.M. Bennett and Jacob Rees. For many years it proved of ‘great and permanent benefit,’ but over time and with the introduction of a mains water supply, it fell into disuse.
In the latter part of the last century, local conservationists restored it, but it now needs further attention so that it once again forms a centrepiece of the village.
Cambrian News, 10 March 1863, 28 March 1864
Thomas, N., The Mumbles Past and Present, 1978