A sundial? Nothing so useful…

Water fountain on Blackheath
As I walked up to this piece of stonework on the heath, I mistakenly thought that it could be a sundial. When I was close enough, I realised that what I had believed to be the gnomon of the sundial (yes I did have to look that word up), was actually a plastic straw from a MacDonald’s takeaway stuffed into the top of a water fountain… Which was a disappointment.

What was even more disappointing was the inscription on the water fountain:

“The fear of the lord is a fountain of life”. March 1885. R.M.A.

Which seems to be a quote from this book.

So, not only did the water fountain not work, not only could it not tell the time from the position of the sun, but it was also recommending to all of Blackheath that the best way to live your life was in fear. Loving relationships do not tend to involve one party fearing the other.

I know that the Victorian Era was big on municipal projects and pious statements, and that clean water was something that not everyone could take for granted, as they can at the moment, but this does seem a rather depressing little monument to have next to the boating pond. I wonder what the modern equivalent should be to the municipal waterfountain? Some free wifi perhaps? More park benches? If you know any benevolent philanthropists, perhaps you could come up with some suggestions, and let me know!

Also – R.M.A. – any ideas? Royal Military Academy?

6 Comments

Filed under blackheath

6 responses to “A sundial? Nothing so useful…

  1. The drinking fountain itself was almost certainly provided by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association founded in 1859 – which still operated to this day, and is still providing clean drinking water, although mainly now in developing countries.

    They probably have an archive of their installations and can advise who paid for this one and what the inscription means.

  2. Jo

    Someone has previously drawn numbers on the pavement around the base of a wooden post. Last year it was cleaned off and miraculously reappeared – I’m always pleased when I’m in that part of Blackheath and spot it, especially when the sun is shining. It’s on the opposite side of the road that the Red Cross (I think) and Gambardellis (again, from memory). Couldn’t tell you the name of the road but lots of buses go down it, will try and get a photo next time I’m there.

  3. auchinairnboy

    I wonder if anyone knows the origin of another structure. There is a pond in Casterbridge Road which has three islands. On one of the islands is a statue of a reclining figure. The incription reads ‘Ganges’. Does anyone know why it is there or who put it there? You can see it from the pavement opposite where Brookway meets Brooklands Park.

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