Victoria Park, like many other attractions in our town, has changed over the years. Once being home to a bandstand, an open-air Lido in the 60’s, and surrounded by cast-iron gates.
The park remains a popular spot for Ashford residents and this week is the focus of some of the town’s biggest community events.
Purchased by the Ashford Urban District Council from brothers George and William Jemmett in 1898, the park then was worth a grand sum of £2,760.00.
One thing that has remained a resident of the park for over 100 years, is the Hubert Fountain. The well known structure, which sits at the north-east of the park, was gifted to the town in the year 1912. It stands at 33 ft 6 inches high and weighs an impressive forty-five tons.
64 whistles helped make up it’s original structure and played music as the water cascaded through them. Two large metal stags also stood at either side, thought to be melted down during the war effort, along with the park railings. Never to be replaced.
The fountain was originally created in France for the Great International Exhibition at the Horticultural Society Gardens in Kensington, London, 1862.The visitors to the exhibition in those days who walked the grounds would have been entertained and delighted by the musical, whistle playing fountain.
The four upper-figures of children represent the four quarters of the world, with the words ‘Asie,’ ‘Europe,’ ‘Afrique,’ and ‘Amerique’ inscribed into the pedestals beneath.
The fountain was purchased for a very large sum by Mr Erle Drax, who displayed the fountain in his 20 acre gardens at Olantigh in Wye.
Once in the hands of Mr George Harper, the fountain was presented to the town on 24th July 1912, on the condition that it was to be played every year on 23rd July; Mr Harper’s birthday.
Years on, the fountain stood idle as the pumps and mechanisms became irreparable. It was finally restored in 1977 to play a part in the celebrations of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. It went under restoration in 1998 and then again in 2007 when it was repainted. However, the fountain’s musical features were never replaced.
This week you can see the fountain lit up in celebration of Mr Harper’s Birthday.
To find out more about the events happening this week at Victoria Park, read our latest blog on Mr Harper’s Birthday Bash.