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Fleischer Commemorative Fountain
Queen’s Park, East London, Eastern Cape

Date:1889
Type:Fountain
Status:Extant

 


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Coordinates:
33°01'05.15" S 27°53'51.79" E Alt: 33m

In the grounds of the Queen’s Park in East London is a fine, ornate, multilayered cast iron fountain, placed within a large raised circular pond. The fountain forms a historic landmark in that portion of the Queen’s Park, which was occupied by the East London Zoo in the 1930’s.

The fountain was donated to the City of East London by William Martin Fleischer who had taken a great interest in the development of Queens Park. A commemora-tive granite plaque records - in English and Afrikaans - the basic details:

THIS FOUNTAIN WAS DONATED TO THE CITY OF EAST LONDON
BY WILLIAM MARTIN FLEISCHER, I. S. O.
MAGISTRATE OF EAST LONDON FROM 1880 TO 1894.

HIERDIE FONTEIN IS AAN DIE STAD OOS-LONDEN GESKENK
DEUR WILLIAM MARTIN FLEISCHER, I. S. O.
LANDROS VAN OOS-LONDEN VANAF 1880 TOT 1894.

Fleischer was born on 17 October 1840 and had a long and varied career in the Civil Service of the Cape Colony. He commenced his service as a Clerk to the Resident Magistrate in Queenstown in 1861 and was subsequently employed in Steynsburg, Cradock, Stutterheim, Victoria East, and by 1879 was Civil Commissioner and Resi-dent Magistrate in Wodehouse. Two years later he was again promoted to East Lon-don in the same position - before finally transferring to Port Elizabeth in 1894.

The ‘post nominal’ letters ISO record the award of The Imperial Service Order to Fleischer. The ISO was instituted by King Edward VII in August 1902 and was awarded on retirement to the administration and clerical staff of the Civil Ser-vice throughout the British Empire, for long and meritorious service. Normally a person had to serve for 25 years or more to be eligible.

The fountain was presumably donated to the City of East London in 1889. This date is suggested by an article that appeared in the Daily Dispatch on 12 April 1989 commemorating the centenary of the memorial. The date of 1889 accords with the formation of the Queen’s Park which was established in 1880 but only officially opened in 1890. The East London and Frontier Red Book for 1908 states that Queen’s Park “is further enriched by a handsome fountain presented to the town by a former Magistrate, Mr. Fleischer, who held office for many years just as the early development of the Park was being carried out, and who took great interest there-in.” A photograph of the fountain appeared in the East London and Frontier Red Book for 1909 and another photograph a few years later in the Official Illustrated Handbook (for) East London of 1912 published by Sticker’s, both showing the fountain set within well tended gardens.

The cast iron fountain was made by the well known Coalbrookdale foundry, based in Ironbridge in Shropshire, England. The base comprises a substantial circular shaft, with four finely detailed classical scrolled brackets acting as buttresses. The circular base is surmounted with a moulded interface which in turn supports a large diame-ter shallow circular dish with a moulded underside and perimeter overflow spouts. A narrower upper shaft in turn supports a second, smaller diameter, shallow circular dish with a moulded underside and again with perimeter overflow spouts. The shaft extends upwards to support a circular base for a small figure supported on a branch - the whole assembly terminating at the apex with a fountain spout.

Fleischer passed away on 10 September 1914 and is buried in the Main Cemetery in Queenstown.

References:
Daily Dispatch, 12 April 1989.

East London and Frontier Red Book 1908 East London: The Standard Printing Com-pany, 1908. pp 233.

East London and Frontier Red Book 1909 East London: The Standard Printing Com-pany, 1909. pp 219.

Kilpin, F E, The Cape of Good Hope Civil Service List, 1898. W & A Richards + Sons, Cape Town, 1898.

Medals and Decorations of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Hortors, Cape Town, 1941.

Official Illustrated Handbook East London: River and seaside attractions for health and pleasure. Compiled and published by the Stickell's Advertising Agency for the East London Municipality. Designed and engraved and printed by Crosby and Co., Daily Dispatch Printing Works, East London 1912.
EGGSA Website

Thanks to Glenn Hartwig of the East London Reference Library for locating the early references and photographs.

William Martinson, April, 2023

Extract from the Civil Service List:
FLEISCHER, WILLIAM MARTIN.—Clerk to the resident magistrate, Queen's Town, 26th August, 1861 ; resident magistrate, Steynsburg, March, 1876 ; acting civil commissioner and resident magistrate, Cradock, 2nd October, 1877; acting resident magistrate, Stutterheim, and special commissioner under martial law proclamation, 23rd December, 1877 ; served in Xhosa war, under Commandant Schermbrucker, January to April, 1878 ; acting civil commissioner and resident magistrate, Victoria East, 1st May, 1878 ; civil commissioner and resident, magistrate, Wodehouse, 1st January, 1879 ; East London, 7th March, 1880 ; and Port Elizabeth, 17th November, 1894. On special duty on Barkly East border and Moirosi's country, 1879 ; Transkei, 1883 ; to Lady Frere, 1884, and to Indwe, November, 1888. Xhosa war medal.

(Submitted by William Martinson)