Tarnished Lion of Scotland ‘will return’ to Park

The Lion of Scotland stood on top of the memorial fountain in Victoria Park for 106 years - now, battered but not beyond repair, it is in the care of the Society of John de Graeme.
The Lion of Scotland stood on top of the memorial fountain in Victoria Park for 106 years - now, battered but not beyond repair, it is in the care of the Society of John de Graeme.

Back in 1912 a magnificent monumental fountain was built in Falkirk’s Victoria Park, and it provided fresh water to the Bairns of Grahamston for half a century.

But in recent decades the fountain, topped by a large stone carving of the Lion of Scotland, has fallen on hard times - its steps have been reduced to pieces, its basin clogged with muck and its copper cup torn from its chain.

Descriptive panels are faded and broken, too.

But in a crowning insult the lion itself was recently wrenched from its plinth and hurled to the ground - possibly as an act of mindless vandalism.

History and heritage group The Society of John de Graeme now has the lion in its care, and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to find the estimated £1,000 needed for its repair.

But, says convener David Reid, that could be just the start of a dramatic comeback for a feature originally created to commemorate John de Graeme, a knight who was Sir William Wallace’s close friend and who died at the first Battle of Falkirk in 1298.

At this Saturday coming’s commemoration of the 720th anniversary of the battle the Society will be renewing its appeal for help to restore the statue.

Mr Reid said: “At the moment we’re still short of our target, but however the fundraising campaign goes we can assure the many people who value this important structure that the lion will be back.

“Despite the damage it is far from beyond repair, and after all that time standing in a key location in Falkirk it would surely be a tragedy for it to just disappear”.

Beyond that, he says, there are already imaginative plans under active discussion with the council about using the restoration of the fountain to serve as a lynchpin of important improvements.

These could one day see a family-friendly route linking the site with Helix Park.

The fountain was originally paid for by famous Falkirk industrialist Robert Dollar, and is seen by the Society’s members as a real piece of Falkirk heritage that must be part of the town’s future - not just a relic of its Edwardian past.

Mr Reid says he’s confident that many Falkirk people will want to beat the vandals by bringing the memorial to John de Graeme back to its full glory.

Meanwhile anyone wishing to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign for the restoration project can do so at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/repair-the-sir-john-de-graeme-memorial-fountain-1/