A drop of hope for Jedburgh fountain’s future

WATER could soon be bubbling forth from Jedburgh’s jubilee fountain after all, according to local councillor Len Wyse.

Last week, we reported the call from Mr Wyse’s fellow elected member for Jedburgh, Jim Brown, for the council to get the town’s fountain – originally commissioned to mark Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee in 1887 – reconnected to a permanent water supply.

Two years ago, the town’s common good fund approved a grant of £8,537 towards the costs of refurbishment work, with the balance of more than £10,000 to be provided by Scottish Borders Council and the Scottish Government.

The work was carried out last year, but stopped short of reconnecting a permanent water supply. At last month’s session of the full SBC, Mr Brown queried when this situation would finally be rectified.

He was informed by officials that, while work had included the installation of electric lighting and renewal of internal plumbing connected to the water spouts, there were no plans at present to connect a permanent water supply.

Although a temporary connection is possible, any arrangements for a permanent supply would need to address a number of issues, including connection to the drainage system; metering; maintenance, especially during cold weather; and monitoring water quality as the fountain is accessible to the public.

And officials say these issues all make funding a permanent connection unlikely in the short term.

To laughter, Mr Brown had responded: “Is it not a bit rich for the SBC Executive members to spend money celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee, when they still haven’t finished the fountain started for Queen Victoria’s jubilee?”

But this week, Mr Wyse told us he had been providing the town’s community council with regular updates on the fountain as regards the situation of getting the water turned back on.

“As a councillor and acting chair of the Communities Trust, I am also doing my best to ensure that the water will flow,” he said.

“I attended a site meeting at the fountain last week and in attendance was Mark Douglas, [heritage and design officer at SBC] and a representative from a company that installs pumps for fountains.

“They are looking into sinking a tank into the ground to recirculate the water. This will, however, have its problems – especially when it comes to the water hygiene and preventing the public from drinking it.”

Mr Wyse says there is also a minor problem on the financing side, with the already-completed refurbishment work having run slightly over budget.

“This is above the original SBC and Jed Common Good allowance. With this in mind, I am going to look into the possibility of bringing the final phase back into the ownership of the Jedburgh Community Trust,” Mr Wyse explained.

“This means that we can concentrate on getting the water back on after all these decades. Under the trust we can look elsewhere for funding which would be quicker than waiting until the next financial year.

“My target date for turn-on would be between the Hand Ba’ at the beginning of March and Declaration Night in mid-May. This would cause least disruption. I will be talking to the director about this today [Monday] and have a report for the next Jedburgh Community Council meeting as per the last meeting’s request.”

And Mr Wyse added: “One of the major upsets in last week’s report was that Councillor Brown omitted to say what a great job our local contractors had done to rejuvenate the fountain to its present glory – Laidlaw & Son for picking up the job half way through and carrying out a fantastic job; Scott & Foggon for coming up with a good blend of lighting and Purdie – the plumber – for the pipe work inside the structure.

“Even David Rumble did a grand job of recarving the spout heads, it’s just a pity he could not finish the job.

“I look forward to sharing some good news soon, but remember the best things in life are worth waiting for.”