Take a wander, as you will in Thurso, down the promenade and you will come across a patch of grass next to the Pavilion. There, amongst the grey and concrete stands a strange black and gold Victorian-esque statue.
Now I’ll be honest. I walked by this thing loads of times and never really gave it much thought. It was just pretty, and handily enough a Pokemon Stop. However, for the sake of this blog and my own curiosity I have done some investigating. What I came across was a pretty heartwarming story that made me love Thurso that little bit more.
The statue was erected in honour of well respected physician, and expert in sanitation, Dr John Grant Smith. He worked in the areas of Thurso, Halkirk and Wick for 44 years, dying suddenly at the age of 67 in 1898.
Dr John Grant Smith was so highly regarded that there was a public funeral and collection to pay for the statue. Thing is the statue wasn’t always where I notice it on my wanders. It seemed to have been here first, pre-car park of course:
But it was not a statue at all! As the aptly named ‘Memorial Drinking Fountains’ blog nailed it; this was a public fountain. This reflects the work Dr Grant Smith put into ensuring a clean water supply and sanitation in Thurso. This explains these bits:
Apparently these are for cups on chains! Silly modern folk think the idea of a bottle filling station is a new thing? Pah! Grab a cup and take a swill… wait. This doesn’t seem very hygienic. Other people probably agreed with me, and the fountain fell into disuse as people realised that sharing slevers with each other was bad for ones health. Fair do’s. In the 1950s it was moved to the spot we now see it, down beside the sea.
But that isn’t the end. The story then takes us to this lad on the right with his casual bucket and paintbrush:
This is Robbie Maitland, the man who gave up his time and painted it back to glory. He is standing with the Thurso Community Council people(who we can assume paid for the paint and have taken a similarly pretty picture to put in an office somewhere.) Robbie, sir, yer a lad. Caithness.org then states someone else painted it without recognition in 2005? What a town of lads!
So that brings the story back to me and you, who might be walking by it on an average day, pulling our eyes away from the beauty that is the sea (probably because of the wind in all likelihood) and looking at this seemingly out of place fountain. I’m not sure I’ll ever pull off enough in life to warrant my own fountain, but if I do I hope it has wine in it. Cheers!
Note: Unless captioned otherwise, all photos used were taken by me. Feel free to use them but link us, aye?
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