Fountain to be gifted to the people of Hamilton

Watson Fountain.


We have great pleasure in learning that Mr Watson of Earnock has signified his intention to present the town with a handsome ornamental fountain. The only condition attached is that the site chosen for the fountain shall be subject to his approval. This, we believe, is the outcome of a desire by Mr Watson to present his native town of Kirkintilloch with a fountain and to place Hamilton, near which so many of his interests lie, in this respect on an equal footing with that burgh. Ref. Hamilton Advertiser. 14/1/1893 page 4.




The clerk read the following letter which had been addressed to the Provost by Mr Watson of Earnock: — “I am willing to present a drinking fountain, to be chiefly of stone and granite, to the town of Hamilton, provided you along with the Magistrates and Town Councillors are willing to accept it and keep it in good condition afterwards, — the site where it is to be erected (probably in Cadzow Street West) to be approved of by me.”

The PROVOST said he had much pleasure in moving that they accept Mr Watson’s kind offer. He was certain, from his good taste, that the fountain he would put up would be a handsome one indeed and a very great ornament to the proposed site. He moved further that they insert Mr Watson’s letter in the minutes, and convey their thanks to Mr Watson for his kind offer, and that the Magistrates and Treasurer be appointed to confer with Mr Watson as to the site. He might say the Treasurer had been the first to learn of this gift, and knew more about it than any of them.

Baillie SMALL seconded the motion, which was cordially adopted. Ref. Hamilton Advertiser. 4/2/1893 page 4.


MR WATSON’S PRESENTATION FOUNTAIN. On Thursday a conference was held between the magistrates and Mr Watson of Earnock in reference to the drinking fountain which he is to present to the town. The design, which has been prepared by Mr Gavin Paterson, architect, was submitted and highly approved. It shoes a structure of great elegance, over twenty feet in height, and it is to be constructed of Aberdeen and Peterhead red and grey granite. The selection of a site for the fountain was left in Mr Watson’s hands and he was cordially thanked for his handsome gift. We believe the site likely to be chosen is the open space adjoining Muirhouse where the structure will have an imposing appearance, especially as approached from the Bothwell Road entrance to the town. Ref. Hamilton Advertiser. 4/3/1893 page 4.


Yesterday, the ceremony of unveiling the magnificent drinking fountain gifted to the town by Mr John Watson of Earnock was performed by the generous donor. But a few months ago the munificent offer was made known to the community, and was hailed with expressions of gratification. For some weeks past, the granite blocks, which had been prepared in Aberdeen, have been placed in position, and yesterday everything was in readiness for the formal handing over of the structure to the Provost, Magistrates and Town Council for preservation in the interests of the inhabitants.


Is erected at the head of the Muir, at the junction of Cadzow Street and Muir Street, and is constructed entirely of Aberdeen and Peterhead granite, part of the site having been given off gratuitously from his garden by Councillor H. S. Keith. Of symmetrical proportions and imposing appearance, the structure is octagonal at base, and is surmounted by a circular domed roof carried on eight columns of polished Peterhead granite. In the centre of the pedestal is a large bronze figure representing “Mining Industry” and in the base there are four recessed drinking basins. Two of the sides of the octagon are filled in with bronze heraldic panels, a third with a medallion of Mr Watson, and the fourth with a polished granite panel, presumably for an inscription. The fountain stands over 20 feet high, and is about 14 feet across the bottom step, and, erected as it is at a historic spot at the junction of a leading entrance to the town, will prove, not only a valuable and useful gift, but a decided ornament to the locality.

The architect was Mr Gavin Paterson, Hamilton; Messrs Whitehead & Son, Aberdeen were the makers; Mr Kellock Brown, Glasgow, was the sculptor, Messrs Brown & Henderson, builders, Hamilton, laid the foundation and built the boundary wall; and Mr Wm. Mitchell plumber Hamilton made the water connection.


Notwithstanding the somewhat damp nature of the weather, there was a large assembly at the fountain to witness the unveiling ceremony. The provost, Magistrates, Councillors, and burgh officials, preceded by two halberdiers, arrived about 1.30, and amongst the large company we observed the following:– Mr John Watson, of Earnock; Mr John Watson yr; Mr Thos. Watson, Midstonehall; Mr Gavin Paterson, architect; Hon. Sheriff Patrick, Rev. Drs. Hamilton and Thomson, Rev. Messrs Trench and Duncanson. Dr Loudon, Mr W. A. Dykes, Lieut. Col. Kay, Fiscal Wilson, Chamberlain Mackie, Chief Constable Millar, Messrs Pollock and Kirkpatrick, town clerks; Mr John Allan, assessor; Mrs, Mr Wm., and Misses Wylie; ;-Wm. Naismith, The Yews; Messrs Copland, McCall, Gilmour, Thos. Rae, Neilson (B. L. Bank) James Dunlop, James Brown. &C.

Mr WATSON, who was warmly received, said he felt highly honoured by their presence to witness the presentation of the fountain the town of Hamilton. When he first offered the fountain, they would remember, he expressed the wish that it might be erected in Cadzow Street west, and he had in his mind    on that very spot at the time, so that he had his desire gratified. When the ground was measured, however, it was found to be too small, but his young friend, Mr H. S. Keith, came to the rescue, and offered him the necessary ground as a free gift. (Applause.) He hoped the inhabitants of Hamilton would be grateful to Mr Keith, and would not forget his generosity. He had handed him a free title to the ground, and he (Mr Watson) in turn, handed it over to the town. (Applause.) He trusted the fountain would be appreciated by the inhabitants of Hamilton and that it would prove not only an ornament to the town, but a benefit to the passing travellers. He handed over to Provost Wylie, the titles to the ground, and also made over to him as Provost, and to the Magistrates and their successors, the fountain, on  condition that it would be kept in good order in future years, (Applause.) He hoped the town clerks would find the legal documents in order. (Applause.) Amidst cheers Mr Watson then unveiled the central figure.

Provost WYLIE, replying said—Mr Watson of Earnock, Deputy Lieutenant of the County; in name of the inhabitants of the burgh, I most cordially accept of this very beautiful fountain from you. I beg to thank you in their name for this handsome gift. It is a substantial token of your generous kindness and earnest desire to improve and ornament the burgh, (Applause.) We will consider it a privilege to use all reasonable diligence to maintain it in order and preserve it as an attractive point of beauty at this entrance to our town. (Applause.) The famous artist, Sam Bough, has laid this spot on canvas—a celebrated picture of olden time, with the mail coach going down Muir Street. But you have changed the scene, and by your exquisite taste, with your architects’ aid, you have placed a monument for all time to come. (Applause.) We wish you and yours may enjoy every happiness. Long may you be spared to come and go among us, and look on this fountain, as the fruit of your cultivated taste and generous heart. Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to give three cheers for Mr Watson and family and his generous gift to the town. (Loud applause.)

Mr WATSON, returned thanks, and said he had one request to make, and that was that he might be allowed to have the first draught of “Adam’s wine” from the fountain. (Applause.) He then proceeded to drink, and was followed by Provost Wylie and a large number of others congregated. The assembly thereafter dispersed.


After the ceremonial, Provost Wylie entertained Mr Watson and the members of the Town Council and other friends to luncheon in the Commercial Hotel. The Provost presided, supported right  and left by Mr Watson, Rev. Dr Hamilton, Rev. Mr Trench, Rev. Dr Thomson; Mr T. Watson, Midstonehall; Mr David Mitchell, Edinburgh; Rev. Mr Duncanson, Mr Copland, C. E. The croupiers were Baillie Small and Treas. S. Keith, supported by Dr Loudon, Mr Watson, yr. of Earnock, Hon. Sheriff Patrick, Mr G. Paterson, architect, and Mr Kellock Brown, sculptor. Amongst the company were Baillies Hamilton and Watson; Councillors H. S. Keith, McNaughton, Scott, Brown, Gibson, Strang, Beggs and Chapmen; Dr Marshall; Chief-Constable Millar; Messrs R. Wilson, P. F., T. Rae. W. Wylie, J. Dunlop. J. Allan. W. Pollock, R. Kirkpatrick, J. Mackie, J. C. Kay. W. Naismith, W. Somerville, etc. After a blessing had been invoked by the Rev. Mr Trench, an elegant luncheon was well purveyed by Mr Campbell, and the Chairman announced apologies from Sheriff Davidson; Mr Thompson, manager, Caledonian Railways; Mr Strain, C.E.; Mr Russell of Auchinraith; Mr W. A. Dykes; Mr Barr, chamberlain to the Duke; Major Neilson of Mossend; Colonel Austine; Mr W. Brown, solicitor; and Mr R. G. Slorach, Sheriff-Clerk Depute.

The Chairman then gave the loyal toasts.

The CROUPIER (Baillie Small) in proposing “The Army, Navy, and Volunteers,” coupled it with Colonel J. C. Kay, who he said, had had twenty three years service. He continued –Just think of it, gentlemen— (laughter)—-twenty-three years thirsting for his foeman’s blood, and yet never gratified with an opportunity of exercising it. (Renewed laughter.) During all that time he has never killed anything more formidable than a snipe. (More laughter.)

Colonel Kay replied, and commended to the good-will of all present and the coming volunteers bazaar.

The CHAIRMAN said the next toast was the toast of the afternoon, viz, the health of the donor of the most beautiful fountain he had ever set his eyes upon. (Cheers.) He did not need to say much to commend his theme. Mr Watson of Earnock was well known to them for his generosity and kind-heartedness, and from the many friendly acts he had from time to time shewn to the neighbourhood. He might tell them that that he was the pioneer of the coal trade in the Wishaw district, which was the first in the district. What would Wishaw, Motherwell and adjacent towns have been without the coal trade? It had given an impetus to all the allied industries, and without the coal trade these parts would have given up to the farming interest, instead of being the seat of a teeming population, and the coal-producing centre of the great county of Lanark. Mr Watson’s steadfast, energetic, persevering business habits had gained for him a name throughout the entire county, and his kindness of heart had given him status amongst his old friends that was well known to a great many of them. (Cheers.) He lived, he was perfectly sure, in the hearts of his tenants, and since he crossed the Clyde, he had made sure his mansion-house of Earnock the grand mansion it was, had beautified the estate with simple plantations, and, besides improving the farm steadings, in hard times, by his kindly smile and substantial assistance, had enabled his tennantry to embark on a career of prosperity. (Cheers.) He did not think that there was any estate in the neighbourhood that had been improved as much as that of Earnock; and he (the Provost) would never forget the day when Mr Watson presented his tennantry with Jersey cattle and the kindly way he spoke to them. He had followed that with the presentation of recreation halls to his workmen, and he was sure they would be of great advantage to them in promoting their moral elevation. The last but not least of his benefactions was the most beautiful fountain that he had that day presented to the town. (Cheers.) The Provost, in conclusion, read an extract from the British Workman, which contained a notice of the first fountain presented in Hamilton. That was thirty-four years ago. It was made of metal and the cost was about £3. (Laughter and cheers.)

Mr Watson, who on rising, was received with cheers, said he thanked them all most heartily for the cordial manner in which they had responded to the remarks made regarding himself by his friend Provost Wylie. He could only say that he had flattered him too much; he had used the “golden brush” far too freely; and he felt himself quite undeserving of the many encomiums he had passed upon him. Still, he believed he had done so sincerely, and he appreciated his remarks. (Cheers.) Although not a Hamiltonian, he had known the town now for upwards of forty years. It was about forty-five years since he put down the first colliery on the Wishaw Estate. What the Provost had said in regard to his being the pioneer in the coal trade there was perfectly correct. (Cheers.) He would fain give them a little of his history and bring them through from that date until now, that however, he would be apt to be a little egotistical. He, accordingly, refrained, remembering the lines:–

If you care would save from jeers

These words keep meekly hid;

Myself and I, and mine and my,

And how I do or did.


Ref. Hamilton Advertiser. 18/12/1893 page 4.

Story provided by wilma Bolton.

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