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Hubert Fountain in Victoria Park, Ashford, in 'horrible' state and litter with rubbish

Park-goers have hit out at the "horrible" state of a historic fountain now circled by murky green water littered with rubbish.

Drinks cans, a bike wheel and even a toy car are among the debris recently found floating in the basin of the 19th century structure in Victoria Park, Ashford.

After looking at the pictures he had taken using his drone, Michael noticed the fountain was in a poor condition
After looking at the pictures he had taken using his drone, Michael noticed the fountain was in a poor condition

The once-eye-catching monument - called the Hubert Fountain - has been the centrepiece of many a stunning photograph.

But the sight one amateur snapper discovered on his most recent visit was far from picture-perfect.

"I was hoping to see the fountain in action for some great footage, but discovered this mess," said the Ashford resident, who would only give his name as Michael.

"I've seen it bad before, but years ago. I was not expecting this, especially when there are events in the park.

"It does not look good does it? I was shocked, to be honest. It'd be better off drained."

Cllr Charles Suddards
Cllr Charles Suddards

Victoria ward councillor Charles Suddards hopes the water of the fountain is safe despite its colour.

"I would hope the water is being periodically tested to ensure it's not hazardous," the Labour representative said.

"People shouldn't be playing in it, but I do hope the water itself is clean.

"It's quite shocking. My only other hope is that they can do something about the horrible colour the fountain is at present.

"It's a sort of 1970s British Leyland brown - it's just horrible."

Renovations under way in Victoria Park
Renovations under way in Victoria Park

The fountain is Grade II*-listed - the second highest level of protection bestowed by Historic England.

It is set to be restored to its former glory next spring as part of a wider £4.5 million transformation of "the town's oldest and biggest urban park".

Ashford Borough Council says the work will improve the quality of the water surrounding the fountain, which was cast in 1862 and installed in Victoria Park 50 years later.

"As part of the renovation, the control and filtration equipment will also be replaced to ensure it functions properly and operates economically," a spokesman said.

"The pond itself will also be relined during this conservation work.”

Michael's photography of Victoria Park fountain
Michael's photography of Victoria Park fountain

Historic England says that despite the current state of the fountain, it is unlikely to lose its Grade II* listing.

"Listing takes into account historic and architectural significance rather than condition, so it is unlikely the fountain will be de-listed," a spokesman said.

"Heritage has a proven positive impact on people’s quality of life and is a source of local pride so it is important that historic sites are well maintained.

"In some cases it is suitable for sites to be added to the Heritage at Risk Register, which is updated annually and helps to highlight the listed buildings and places in England that need the most help."

The Victoria Park and Watercress Fields project is a collaboration between Ashford Borough Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Rubbish pictured in the fountain earlier this week
Rubbish pictured in the fountain earlier this week

As well as restoring the fountain, the project will see the introduction of a sensory garden and community building, which will house a café with an alfresco dining veranda.

It is hoped work to install a wetland area, timber zig-zag pathway, a viewing platform, and bridges across the waterways will be completed by this autumn.

A new playground will also be created in the park by next summer.

A fateful tale

The Hubert Fountain was originally erected in the grounds of Olantigh Towers at Wye, five miles from Ashford, but the mansion was destroyed by a devastating fire in 1903.

George Harper, a local antique shop owner and the then chairman of Ashford Urban District Council, purchased it.

He made an anonymous offer to present the fountain, together with two huge cast iron stags, to Ashford on the condition that the council re-erect it at Victoria Park at its own expense. The council refused.

The Hubert Fountain pictured at the opening ceremony
The Hubert Fountain pictured at the opening ceremony

Mr Harper then agreed to pay for the re-erection - but only if the council provided the foundations, water supply, and put on a water display every year on his birthday.

The council agreed and the fountain was dismantled, brought to Ashford in sections by traction engine, and formally presented on July 24, 1912.

Three weeks later, Mr Harper was run over and killed by a train.

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