Dane Park fountain could be revived with financial help from Southern Water.
The detailed structure is made of cast iron with two bowls, a female statue and decorations of pelicans, daffodils, cherubs in ships and riding dolphins and lion head masks. But water no longer flows in it and it has most recently been used as a flowerbed.
Dane Park was previously farmland until resident John Woodward bought it at an auction in 1895. Mr Woodward gifted the land to the people of Margate. Dane Park was opened by the Lord Mayor of London on June 1st 1898 and at that time had a lake, bridges, swans and peacocks, refreshment rooms and a bandstand.
The fountain was erected by the Corporation of Margate as a memorial to Mr Woodward after his death.
In 2016 Margate resident Frank Leppard launched a petition calling for the fountain to be brought back to its working order. But it has remained dry despite the backing of residents.
Now Southern Water is considering the possibility of stepping in to help and discussed the idea with Thanet councillors last week.
A Southern Water spokesperson said: “At the recent meeting held with councillors, Dane Park and the fountain were discussed as being one of our possible interventions – however, we are still in early discussions and are only at concept design.
“Over the coming weeks we will develop this idea further as well as liaising with other local groups and charities.”
Grandad-of-two and photographer Frank Leppard welcomed the news, saying: “After many years of dead ends trying to restore the Dane Park fountain , it’s totally amazing to hear that Southern Water may step up and help restore it to its former wonderous working order.
“At last our children and grandchildren will get to see it in its former glory just like us older generations have done. This could be the park’s jewel in the crown and no doubt inspire further efforts to make the park a joy to be in once more .
“The family of John Woodward will also be pleased as the fountain was a memorial to him for gifting the park to the people of Margate so a nice new plaque will be a must, thanks to Southern Water from everyone in Margate.”
Mr Woodward’s great-great-nephew, also called John Woodward, visited Dane Park last year to help plant cherry trees at the site
Margate councillor Rob Yates says he was first informed of the proposal to fund renovation of the fountain during a meeting with Southern Water last month where proposals including drainage interventions in schools, homes and businesses on the isle were discussed.
He said: “”Reinstating Dane Park fountain would mean a huge amount to the residents of Margate. Now Southern Water have committed to spending money elsewhere in Thanet, we need to ensure that they commit the funds now to get this project underway next year.”
Former Millmead councillor Gary Taylor said he was “really chuffed” with the proposal. He had previously supported Frank’s campaign..
He said: “Credit has to go to Frank Leppard for the campaign he started to save the Dane Park fountain. I emailed Southern Water when the company was first fined about 5 years ago as all the money went to central government and none went to Thanet council.
“It’s pleasing to see Cllr Yates has not given up on the matter with all the problems Southern Water has caused in Thanet and that something positive may now happen with the Dane Park fountain.”