(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #108572)
The 10 metre high fountain was designed by the city engineer, Mr WH Chambers, sculpted by William Webster, and built at a cost of £627. For the purposes of comparison, this newspaper archive shows that Richard Gailey was selling quarter-acre blocks of land at Toowong for £25 in the same year. Whether there was an outcry about the cost, or because it was just too expensive for the Council to fund totally, I cannot say, but there was a public subscription to raise some of the money required. This subscription happened to coincide with another fund-raising effort - one to raise money for a memorial to James Mooney, a volunteer firefighter who had been killed fighting a fire in Queen St. As a result, the self-serving aim of the councillors was diluted somewhat, because the people of Brisbane came to associate the fountain with the collection for Mooney. Even though a memorial to him was actually built at his burial site at Toowong Cemetery, the Eagle St fountain became known as the Mooney Memorial Fountain. The fountain has survived, and here is a current photograph of it.
Below is a photograph from 1891, showing the fountain in place at the intersection of Queen and Eagle Sts. The procession is to celebrate Eight Hour Day.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #190686
In the 1930s, the Brisbane City Council planted a weeping fig tree behind the fountain, and the magnificent tree now provides welcome shade over the fountain.
The fountain needed some restoration work in 1988, and at that time, the Council decided to formalise the association that the people had recognised since it was built. A plaque commemorating James Mooney and all firefighters who had lost their lives protecting the city was incorporated into the fountain.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)
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