WORKS to restore one of the Hamilton Botanic Gardens’ most significant features to its former glory are underway this week.
Contractors began restoration works last Friday to get the 100-year-old Thomson Memorial Fountain flowing again in the coming months.
The fountain commemorates the life of John Thomson, who represented the electorate of Dundas in state parliament for 22 years and sat on the Dundas Shire council for 15 years, and was opened by then-Premier, Sir Harry Lawson, on April 5, 1919.
A Southern Grampians Shire spokesperson said the restoration project would include refurbishing the concrete and stucco fountain and plumbing work to get water flowing again.
“The restoration project … includes conservation and plumbing works to re-establish water flow to all elements of the Thomson Memorial Fountain,” the spokesperson said.
The first stage of the works will include pressure-washing the fountain, removing peeling paint, sanding and repainting where needed.
The project will also involve repair works, plumbing, relevelling of the bowls – one of which has been detached over time – and the reconstruction of missing features.
Among the features that have become damaged or lost over time are eight decorative flowers and an urn of the Ararat Boer War Memorial Fountain.
The shire and the Friends of the Hamilton Botanic Gardens jointly received a $160,000 Living Heritage Grant from the State Government in 2018 to complete the restoration.
“Council’s restoration project will fully repair and restore this historical fountain to working order, as close as possible to its original design so it may again be a visually significant structure within the William Guilfoyle-designed Hamilton Botanic Gardens,” the shire spokesperson said.
“The fountain is one of the most significant features of the Hamilton Botanic Gardens, alongside the flight aviary, and its repair will ensure that this important part of Hamilton’s history is preserved for generations to come.”
The restoration project has been in the works since 2017, when the shire commissioned a condition report on the aging fountain.
“The report found that the fountain has been degraded by its natural function of providing cascading water down a painted cast and pressed cement structure,” the spokesperson said.
“The high flow areas in particular have suffered significant damage and erosion over time. Water entry through cracks in the cement has caused further corrosion.”
The spokesperson said the works were vital to ensure the fountain did not degrade beyond repair.
“If the fountain is left in its current condition it will continue to degrade,” the spokesperson said.
“Once the protective coating is re-established and plumbing works are undertaken, it can be maintained in a suitable functional condition without further major loss.
“The works required are very specialised and council has engaged the same contractor who has recently undertaken the restoration of the Ararat fountain to complete the project.”
The works were expected to begin last August and be completed by the end of 2019, but delays in the restoration of Ararat’s fountain pushed the project back.
The fountain restoration is now expected to be completed by the end of April. It was previously restored in 1988.