Richard Huws’ remarkable bucket fountain was commissioned by Merseyside Civic Society in 1962 to commemorate the start of the Tryweryn Scheme, which would provide drinking water to Liverpool.

The scheme itself was controversial, involving as it did the displacement of an entire Welsh-speaking valley community and the loss of their farms, homes and places of worship. They even had to disinter their dead. Huws, being Welsh, personally distanced himself from this.

The focus of the fountain was rushing water and Huws memorably noted that he spent ‘a week on the design and two years on the engineering.’ It is the last such fountain of its type in the world.

The original location

Beetham Plaza was the promoters’ fourth choice location, the fountain originally having been proposed for a new pedestrian precinct at the junction of Bold Street and Hanover Street. Planning and other considerations meant that this site, along with ones at the junction of Parker Street and Church Street and in Williamson Square, were all discounted.

As luck would have it, the developers of Goree Piazza, Thames Estates and Investments Ltd, were looking for something to animate the square behind their new office development and offered the space for the fountain.

And so, a whole five years after it was commissioned, it finally found a home.

The Plaque

The fountain was built by engineers from Cammell Laird shipyard, where Huws had once worked. They placed a commemorative plaque on the installation in the shape of an African shield in acknowledgement of Goree’s place in Liverpool’s slaving history but, of course, the fountain itself was all about Welsh water and its link with slavery mere happenstance. (Goree is an island off the coast of Senegal at which Liverpool slaving ships bought slaves for the second leg of their infamous ‘triangular trade’).

Similar confusion exists about it being a ‘sound sculpture’. It isn’t, although Richard Huws, its engineer, did however acknowledge that “the acoustic value [of the sculpture] would be tremendous” and that siting it in a more enclosed space would aid appreciation of such. He favoured Williamson Square for that purpose, but his wishes were ignored.

Elliot Group also wants to find a home where it can be enjoyed by more local people and visitors alike.

Its current location is off the beaten track and a more visible home would help this remarkable fountain become a ‘must see’ on Liverpool’s tourist trail.

But where should it go? To Williamson Square, which was Huws’ original desire? Or to the new Strand when it is reduced to four lanes and new landscaping and plazas introduced? Or somewhere else? Let us have your views.

By freeing up the site we have an opportunity to develop a new hotel, creating valuable jobs and rateable income for the city council to invest in vital public services. We can refurbish the square, improving its lighting and security as we go, and bringing new animation and footfall via the new hotel.


Thank you for your feedback.