Yeovil Celebrates Queen Victoria's 80th birthday

1899 - Queen Victoria's 80th Birthday

How Yeovil celebrated Queen Victoria's 80th Birthday


The 80th birthday of Queen Victoria was quietly celebrated in Yeovil with just the presentation to the town of the fountain in Sidney Gardens by John Farley on 25 May 1899 to mark the occasion.

However the fountain, which now hasn't seen water for many years, appears to have been jinxed from the very first. On the rim of the fountain's pool, in front of the three ladies seated at left in the first photograph in the Gallery below, is seen one of three water jets (see them in action in a postcard further down). Unfortunately for the three ladies this jet had been installed the wrong way round - resulting in an early shower for the ladies when the fountain was ceremoniously turned on. It seems that the fountain was doomed with problems from day one!

The fountain was restored in 1991 but when civic chiefs and private sponsors gathered for the official switching on ceremony it was discovered that the pump had been stolen and the stem damaged. It has been dry ever since. As mayor John Cruddas said at the time "We can put men on the moon, but in Yeovil it seems we can't get water up a spout!"

From the diary of Louisa Harris ....

"25 May 1899: Today a fountain (the gift of Mr Farley) is being opened in the Sidney Gardens and the occasion is being made a celebration of the Queen's 80th birthday, so Yeovil is en fete again. Emmie [her sister] and I went up and witnessed the ceremony."






The presentation of the Sidney Gardens fountain on 25 May 1899. You'd have thought at least one of 'em could have raised a slight smile.


So, who was who? Unfortunately only some of the gathering are known, these are as follows -
1 Cllr GH Gould, 2 Cllr Edward Samuel Ewens, 4 Cllr WW Johnson, 5 G Gawler, 6 Cllr James Bazeley Petter, 7 WG Armytage (Borough Surveyor), Henry Jesty (Mace Bearer), 9 Cllr Charles Hook, 10 JK Whitby, 11 Cllr HF Raymond, 14 William Maynard, 15 Alderman Sidney Watts, 16 Miss Watts, 17 Miss Vincent, 18 Mrs Vincent, 20 Alderman W Cox, 22 Mayor John Vincent, 23 Alderman Joseph Chaffey Moore, 24 Cllr Charles Wreford Pittard, 25 Henry Butler Batten (Town Clerk), 26 JH Farley (who donated the fountain), 27 Ebenezer Pittard, 29 WB Collins.


From my collection

A hand-coloured postcard sent in 1904, with the fountain full of water - a sight not seen for many years.


From my collection

If the fountain has just been switched on, how come there are no ripples on the surface of the water? Early Photoshop methinks? This example was posted in 1908.


Sadly the fountain hasn't seen water for years - I wonder what John Farley would make of it now? Photographed in 2013.