Visitors to Midsomer Norton High Street this week will notice the new Jubilee Planter outside Barons which was installed as part of the town’s preparations for South West In Bloom 2014. The new planter, spotted in a catalogue, has been embellished with locally made iron work based on the design of an original fountain presented to the Town by local brewer John Thatcher in 1897.
In the 1890s John Thatcher, owner of Welton Brewery, lived in the Hollies and asked the Town Council to accept his gift of a fountain in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. This was accepted with the assurance that the fountain “…shall be kept in good repair and condition, and also adequately supplied with water”. To make room for the very ornate fountain, a short section of the end of the river, outside what is now Barons Estate Agents, was covered over and the footpath realigned.
The Town Council indeed took their responsibility very seriously and ‘four lads’ who were caught damaging the fountain in the following year were brought before the Council and cautioned by the Chairman in April 1898. Over the years the fountain was painted and renovated, and kept in working order. In 1935 it was moved into a different position and its brass taps were replaced by chrome. However, a few years later the Thatcher family was approached with a view to removing the fountain entirely on the basis that ‘it appears to have outlived the original purpose for which it was erected’.
A new “Puro” Pedestal Sanitary Drinking Fountain was purchased, including ‘chrome plated head with sand screen on galvanised pedestal base’ for £5.10.0 in November 1938, but this replacement does not seem to have remained very long.
The planter was purchased for the In Bloom team thanks to funding from both Cllr Michael Evans and Cllr Barry Macrae’s B&NES Ward Councillor Initiative Funds.
“This is a wonderful project as it not only recognises part of the town’s history but will also provide a colourful display for local people and visitors to enjoy when they come to the High Street. Special thanks are also due to Flowers by Nicola who have done a fantastic job pulling this project together with the In Bloom volunteers”, said Cllr Michael Evans, B&NES Midsomer Norton North.
Certainly Midsomer Norton is literally ‘Growing for Gold’ this year if the number of new beds and creative floral innovations appearing in and around the town are anything to go by.