On 30th September 1972, as part of the opening ceremony of the Christchurch Town Hall, the invited and excited party goers gathered around to witness the switching on of the ‘Ferrier Fountain’.
Christchurch businessman and donator, Jack Ferrier waited close by to do the honours and once the crowd grew quiet, he went ahead and pushed the button. Nothing happened. He pushed it again. Nothing happened. After a quick investigation, it was discovered the celebratory water feature had not be connected to the mains!
Unfortunately, some future operating issues were not so easy to fix. In her first years, every few months, maintenance had to be done to clear jet blockages at the cost of $800 each service. Canterbury’s infamous nor’wester also created an unsightly view when it sent leaves and dirt into the pools. But with a little extra work, these problems were soon solved.
Designed by the same English company who designed Sydney’s “Él Alamien Fountain” – a strike almost kept everything grounded in Britain. Jack Ferrier himself organised the fountain to be shipped to New Zealand and constructed once landed. Known as a ‘sphere de fluer’ design, it forms three static water displays at different heights – once described by an admirer as being ‘…water dandelions…’’.
After all these hiccups, the Ferrier Fountain became a much beloved icon of Christchurch; a delight to those sitting close by and a ‘must have’ centre piece for all photographers – local and visitor. But now broken and battered, along with the rest of the Town Hall due to 2011 earthquakes, the deserted site has been a reminder to all of Christchurch’s darkest days and the hardships and delays that have followed.
With the news of the C.C.C. committing to the rebuilt of the Town Hall, may the Ferrier Fountain be restored to her former glory and continue to be part of our Victoria Square.
*Image courtesy of the Lil and Matt – http://lilandmatt.blogspot.co.nz *