Restoration of the Victoria Fountain moves ahead

Plans to restore the city’s Victoria Fountain are underway with a contractor expected to be appointed in late November.

The fountain, also known as the Dolphin Fountain is located in Old Steine Gardens. It is thirty-two feet in height and includes a large, cast-iron pool with a rim decorated with egg-and-dart mouldings.

In January 2022, the fountain was found to have significant and complex structural problems and has been propped temporarily and switched off for safety reasons.

Sinkhole did not affect the fountain

Concerns were raised that a small sink hole that appeared in the gardens following last year’s Christmas market, had led to further deterioration of the structure. However, surveys undertaken by structural engineers HOP, concluded that this wasn’t the case.

HOP confirmed that the problems relate to the superstructure of the statue namely corroding bolts and faulty services above ground. These are not related to the site geology or nearby void.

Finding suitable contractors for the work

As a result of the investigation HOP has also developed a check system to ensure that locations where there could be potential risks relating to the geology of a site, are assessed in advance of heavy loads or machinery being used there.

Two unsuccessful attempts at tendering the work needed on the Victoria Fountain were carried out. A total of 12 contractors from the council’s frameworks were invited to tender but no responses were received.

A third tendering exercise has had a better response and subject to work starting in mid-December, the refurbishment is expected to be completed before the end of spring.

Restoring our heritage

Chair of Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Martin Osborne said: “The Victoria Fountain is a valued part of our local heritage and we’re looking forward to seeing it restored to its former glory.

“It has an important central location on Old Steine Gardens and contributes significantly to the look and feel of the city.

“It has taken us longer than we’d hoped to get to this point but the construction industry locally and nationally is experiencing severe pressures due to spiralling costs and a shortage of people with specialist skills.

“Despite this we are doing our best to get the Victoria fountain repaired as soon as we can."