The fountain is part of the original landscape of the park and is a Grade II listed building.
It is made up of an ornate cast-iron fountain with moulded base supporting four swans seated above a large ornamental tray featuring numerous leaves and plants and sitting on a random stone rubble. The Arts and Crafts naturalistic motifs were very popular at the time and matched McKenzie’s more naturalistic landscape style.
Fountain’s were often the centrepieces in 19th century parks and it is believed that this fountain originally featured in the Great Exhibition of 1851 at Crystal Palace. We now know what the Victorians sensed, which is that that the sound of trickling water is actually very good for you, as it reduces stress and anxiety.
The fountain played a key role in the park’s opening ceremony. From a Hampshire Telegraph article of the time we are told:
“In his address the Mayor described the park as ‘for the use of the people of Portsmouth’ and proposed to ‘leave it with them to take care of’. The Mayor then turned on the fountain, and declared the park open.”
The fountain was restored 1978 and formed part of the ceremony to celebrate the centenary of the park.