Attwells fountain is on the Thames Promenade. The location was once directly connected with the top of Whitley Street by tram and later trolleybus routes. Not so nowadays when all buses with the exception of the No 17, the ‘backbone of Reading’, terminate at Reading Station.
Mrs Sarah Attwells left money in her will for the erection of a fountain in memory of her husband Frank Attwells who died while mayor in 1892.
The mayoress of Reading, Mrs Colebrook, unveiled the fountain on 15 October 1908. Caversham was not part of Reading until 1911 and along with Reading dignitaries, Frank Cooksey chairman of Caversham District Council took part in the ceremony [ref 1].
The inscription on the fountain says:
THIS DRINKING FOUNTAIN
WAS ERECTED AS PROVIDED
BY THE WILL OF
MRS SARAH GEORGINA ATTWELLS
IN MEMORY OF
WHO WAS MAYOR OF READING 1891-2
AND WHO DIED DURING
HIS YEAR OF OFFICE
ON AUGUST 25TH 1892
IN MEMORY OF HIS WIDOW
SARAH GEORGINA ATTWELLS
WHO DIED ON APRIL 2ND 1905
The fountain was designed by the architects Mr Charles Smith and son, the contractors were Collier and Catley, the stone mason was Mr A F Jones and the carving was by Messrs Hayden and Batting. The materials were Portland stone with a base of Aberdeen granite. There were two drinking fountains and at the base, two troughs for animals.
Frank Attwells founded a musical instrument manufacturers and piano dealers in 1866 and in 1887 took over the Royal County Theatre, both on Friar Street.
In relation to the siting of the drinking fountain, Alderman Martin said:
Its position was a convenient one, and there was something appropriate in placing the memorial in the vicinity of the River Thames, as the late Frank Attwells took a great interest in aquatic sports, being a good swimmer and fond of water polo.
Today, although some of the pipework and part of the chain that would have been attached to a drinking cup remain, it is in a sad state of repair. Two panels on the east and west side of the pillar commemorate the Attwells.
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