Barrel or Boslem Well & Diamond Fountain

The Braes of Bo’ness gave rise to a small number of springs and several of these were enclosed to produce dipping wells.  To the east of the town the most reliable and hence best known was the Barrel Well, also known as Boslem Well, on the high ground in what became Victoria Park.  This was heavily used by the local populace.  In 1856 the Ordnance Surveyors noted that it was:

A spring well situated on the middle of Links Braes and immediately above Thirlstane.  It (as well as the other wells in the locality) is almost dry on account of the minerals being worked below them, which absorbs the water.

The Links Braes had been used as grazing land but in celebration of Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee the owner, H M Cadell, created a public park.  Victoria Park officially opened on 22 June 1897.  For this occasion Provost Stewart paid for a drinking fountain to be placed on the site of Boslem Well and for an ornamental ceramic fountain to be set up immediately to its south-west and this became the Diamond Fountain.  It had a balustrade pedestal with geometric acanthus leaf design.  This supported a wide basin with ribbed underside to resemble a flower, which caught water spurting from higher up. Above the basin the central stamen was round in section and expanded out to another smaller basin with a pointed finial.  The water emanated from this upper basin.  The fountain was made from fireclay by Doulton & Co of London.  It sat in a large basin set in a rockery, partly paid for by Mr Peattie, and was surrounded by a low fence with a locked gate.  The only hitch on the opening day for Victoria Park was that the Doulton factory in Lambeth had dispatched the fountain by rail instead of steamer which caused it to be late in arrival.  So the ‘Jubilee Clump’ of trees was planted. The fountain was inaugurated at the Fair celebrations that July.

Illus: The Diamond Fountain on the right looking towards Bridgeness Pottery.

Whilst a ceramic fountain was cheaper than one of cast iron, it was not nearly so durable and cracked with the frosts.  It appears to have been removed around 1960, but the drinking fountain is still present.

(SMR 1333) – NT 0053 8143

G.B. Bailey, 2022