AT one time a number of drinking fountains were placed around Bolton, so that people, and even animals, could get water should they need it.

The first indication that these were to be introduced to the town came with an advertisement in The Chronicle on January 15,1859 (it was in the days before the Evening News was founded, in 1867) when it was announced that "It is thought desirable that a number of Drinking Fountains should be erected in Bolton, similar to those already in Liverpool and other places. Those individuals willing to assist in carrying out such an object are respectfully informed that books for subscriptions lie at the following places -- Hardcastle, Cross & Co's Bank, Bank of Bolton, Exchange News Room, Mechanics' Institute, and The Chronicle office."

Already, a number of subscriptions had been made. The Mayor had given £5, the Vicar of Bolton £2, Robert Heywood £10, and even Miss Pilkington of Weybridge (for some reason unknown) £5. Others, such as James Barlow, Samuel Burnside, Jabes Johnson and James Hudson had promised the full cost of one fountain, while Arthur Greg promised two, and Robert Knowles three.

The following week, the sites ("or as near thereto as may be convenient") for the fountains was announced. They would be at the Market Hall; Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Station; London and North West Railway Station; Churchgate; junction of Crook-street, Moor-lane and Blackburn-street (Britannia); junction of Moor-lane, Deansgate and White Lion-brow; junction of Cannon-street, Pike's-lane and Blackburn-street; junction of High-street, Cannon-street with Derby-street (Top-o'th-Pike); junction of Lever-street with Manchester Road (Rose-hill); junction of Folds-road with Kay-street (Roebuck); junction of Waterloo-street with Folds-road; junction of Kay-street with Blackburn-street (Waggon and Horses); junction of

Chorley Old and New-roads with St George's-road and Brinks-brow (Jolly Crofters); and Tonge-bridge near the Cemetery.

One thing that strikes me about this is that many of them were to be near public houses. How would the landlords react if people were to drink the water instead of paying for beer? Just a thought.

By February 15, it was announced that "The Waterworks Committee having agreed to the proposal that the People Erect a Drinking Fountain for Men, Horses and Dogs, upon the New Market-square, a committee has been formed to obtain Subscriptions." It was also said that "The Committee appeal to their working brethren for support, in order that the Fountain may be erected creditable to the people and ornamental to the town."

On June 11, 1859, a story in the paper announced that "The first public drinking fountain in this borough was erected yesterday afternoon, on the south side of Churchgate, and nearly opposite the old market cross. It is an octagon pillar, and is supplied with a continual stream of water, which passes from the upper basin to two small troughs for dogs at the foot, and thence into the sewer. The sites for the whole 17 fountains have been approved, as also has the design for the working men's fountain and cattle trough for the Market-square. It is intended to erect three separate cattle troughs, one near the Britannia, another in The Haulgh, and the third near the Jolly Crofters.

By July, "a considerable proportion of of sixteen or eighteen drinking fountains for this borough have been fixed in their places, and, as soon as the novelty-has worn off will largely be taken advantage of. At present, however, they are more of a source of amusement and mischief for the children, who congregate about them, and splash the water in all directions; and it would be well if the attention of the police were directed to them."

However, all was not going too well with raising the money needed. On July 16, under the heading "People's Drinking Fountain, New Market-square", it was said that about £60 had been subscribed towards the erection of the ornamental drinking trough, but "the Committee find they cannot carry out their idea in a credible manner for less than £120, and, as a very large proportion of the inhabitants have not hitherto been solicited to aid them, they now confidentially appeal to them to assist in endeavouring to make a creditable termination of the business. The design is a beautiful female figure in bronze, to be placed upon a granite pedestal; there will also be provided troughs for cattle and dogs."

The appeal obviously didn't work too quickly, though, because, by November, the paper reported "During the last few days, workmen have been engaged in preparations for the erection of the cattle fountain, the gift of John Hick, Esq., of the Soho Works, in the Market-square, and it is hoped that the funds for the people's subscription fountain intended to be erected on the same spot will shortly be forthcoming so that the harmony of the complete design may be fully realised."

Shortly afterwards came the report: "The cattle fountain at the base of the pillar of the gas lamp in the Market-square is now complete and in operation, and horses and cattle may be dally seen assuaging their thirst in the grateful liquid. The design of the fountain is exceedingly neat, and the elevation of the pillar and ornamentation of the lamp combine to effect an elegant and useful improvement."

Whether the people's fountain ever went up in the Market Square I do not know, but it seems unlikely. However, I am told by the Parks Department that the fountain (named "Rachel") was outside the Crofter's Pub at the junction of Chorley Old and Chorley New Road, was later put into Queen's Park, was vandalised, a new version made, and it can now be found near where the Butterfly house stood - I recently went to see it, and it stands there proudly, minus its head! Two other fountains still stand, one in Moss Bank Park, the other in Market Street, Westhoughton (provided by the Ditchfield family), but neither works.