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West Midlands Group 2016 Conservation Award Winner announced

The winner of the Victorian Society’s 2016 Birmingham & West Midlands Conservation Award has been named as the Dudley Fountain.

The Dudley Fountain

Dudley MBC was chosen from four finalists for this year’s prize for their skilled and dedicated conservation work to the Dudley Fountain on the High Street. The Grade II*-listed fountain was created in 1867 by sculptor James Forsyth and acted as a grand showpiece for his skills, though also fulfilled a practical use as a drinking fountain for both cattle/horses (from the low drinking troughs) and humans (from the smaller basins).

For many years the fountain fell into disrepair, with its original purpose as a grand water structure lost for over thirty years as the troughs were filled with soil and flowers. Now, its original purpose has been reimagined and water flows from the mouths of the ornate dolphins and lions as it was designed. The striking ornamental details have been reinstated and the area around of the fountain has also been improved with paving and planting.

Stephen Hartland, Chairman of the Victorian Society Birmingham and West Midlands group, said, “I’m delighted that Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council has been awarded the Birmingham & West Midlands Conservation Award for 2016, for the excellent restoration of the Grade II* listed fountain, and improvement of its setting, in Dudley Market Place.  For many years, since the 1960s, its sad decline and neglect was a cause for concern, but now James Forsyth’s delightful 1867 riot of Classical, Renaissance and Baroque ornament has been restored in time for its 150th anniversary in October this year.

Our Casework Committee acted as judging panel for a number of nominations across the West Midlands, but were clear in judging the Dudley Fountain nomination to be the winner.  I commend the Council for having the foresight to undertake this restoration and for improving the urban landscape in Dudley for its citizens and for those visiting from further afield.

As the Birmingham & West Midlands group celebrates its own semicentenary in 2017, I hope that others will take encouragement in Dudley’s example, and that of the Grand Hotel in Birmingham, who won our 2015 Conservation Award, that Victorian and Edwardian architecture is something to celebrate and protect, but most of all enjoy.”

The Regional Conservation Award was established in 2015 to reward the high quality conservation work done by architects and groups across Birmingham and the West Midlands. The 2016 Awards is generously sponsored by the 2015 winners: Hortons’ Estate Ltd.

Tony Green, CEO of Hortons’ Estate, said, “Congratulations to Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council for being selected as the most well deserved winner of the Birmingham & West Midlands Conservation Award for 2016.  We believe that historic structures have an important role to play in the regeneration of our towns and cities and are delighted to be involved in the sponsorship of an award that promotes such works.”

Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member for planning and economic development at Dudley Council, said: “We are really proud of the restoration project with the fountain as part of the wider regeneration of the town centre. The fountain is very much a focal point for people in the town and complements the new market place and the restoration of the historic shop fronts which is so vital in such an important shopping area which dates back to medieval times.

“We’re delighted that this has been recognised at a national level but there is still more work to be done around maintenance and preservation to make sure this local landmark continues to be a focal point for the town.”

The prize of an illuminated scroll and 18” commemorative bronze disc will be awarded to Dudley MBC at the Society’s Annual General Meeting at the Council House in Birmingham on July 21st 2017, followed by a local presentation in Dudley’s own Council House at a date thereafter.

 

Pictures and more information on the winning entry can be downloaded here.

Saturday 11 February

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