The Wilkinson Memorial Drinking Fountain was inaugurated on 17 October 1876 to perpetuate the memory of Reverend George Wilkinson, who was the Vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Williamstown from 1859 to 1875. He was a theologist of old school who preached eternal everlasting punishment for sinners but was well liked because of his gentle character.
When George Wilkinson died in 1875, a Committee of influential people was formed to institute an appropriate memorial for him. He was a great advocate of total abstinence, so the Committee decided to erect a drinking water fountain. The fountain was ordered from a catalogue and was imported by Messrs James M’Evan and Co of Elizabeth Street from England, at a cost of around £100. A public subscription covered the expenses.
The water fountain was cast at the Saracen Foundry of Walter Macfarlane & Co in Glasgow. The elaborate canopy comprises four columns rising to form arches with decorated mouldings, encircling ornamental shields. It is installed on a blue base made by Mason Harry Bliss.
The water fountain was formally inaugurated on 17th October 1876, on the first anniversary of Wilkinson’s death by then Bishop of Ballarat, Dr Thornton in the presence of the Mayor of Williamstown and ministers of all denominations. Though the weather was extremely bad nearly 2000 people gathered for the occasion including nearly 600 children.
The Plaque installed at the base of the fountain reads, “Rev George Wilkinson of Holy Trinity Church was a teetotaller and a homeopathic doctor. Public transcriptions in 1876 purchased this Glasgow built fountain to dispense pure water for ferry passengers at the Front door to Williamstown”.
In late 2015, the fountain underwent restoration work by conservator Jude Schahinger at a cost of around $2,5000. The restoration was completed by early 2016, for the occasion of the 140th anniversary of the fountain.
Address: Nelson Pl, Williamstown VIC 3016