One of Barnstaple’s most loved landmarks is the town square with its clock tower and fountain. The tower was built in 1862 as a memorial to Prince Albert who died the year before. The tower is known as the four faced liar, as of the four clock faces: one on each side, only one ever tells the time correctly. The memorial was designed by local surveyor RD Gould and was built by a local builder by the name of John Pulsford for the sum of 216 pounds. In front of the tower is the beautiful listed fountain built of Portland stone with a granite plinth. The fountain was erected to record the gift by ‘CS Willshire Esq of the railings enclosing this square during his mayoralty 1876-1878’
In 2008 during renovations to the square the clock tower was cleaned with the Stonehealth DOFF superheated water system and the fountain was restored. Sadly with the extreme weather conditions of the harsh winter of 2010 – 2011, the fountain was damaged by frost penetrating the stone causing parts of it to crack and break off. The fountain which would normally spray jets of water throughout spring and summer could not be switched back on.
The following year the money was found to carry out repairs. In 2012 Orchard Stonemasons, a local restoration and conservation company started the work which would involve cleaning and repairing the fountain. In the first instance the DOFF system was used to clean and reveal the state of the fountain. The existing Portland stone was effected badly by the harsh weather and as you can see in the before photo much of the lettering had deteriorated beyond recognition. Orchard Stonemasons took rubbings of the existing and replicated using Portland stone. The new stone was fixed with lime based mortar. The Portland stone sections were worked by Mike Orchard to match the original mouldings and letter cutting all done by hand.
The fountain was subsequently switched on and can now be seen in full flow during Spring and Summer.