Victoria Park’s Lion of Scotland is back where he belongs

For generations the Lion of Scotland was an iconic sight in Falkirk’s Victoria Park, secure upon its plinth on the memorial fountain that dates to 1912.

By Roy Beers
Saturday, 6th April 2019, 4:22 pm
Updated Saturday, 6th April 2019, 4:24 pm

Then last year vandals tried to destroy it, adding the final insult to the progressive decay which had already choked the fountain’s basin with muck and left its descriptive panels faded and worn.

To find the lion lying in the mud, broken and badly damaged, was the final straw for local people who see the memorial as an important element of a hoped-for brighter future for the park.

Now, thanks to supporters of a crowdfunding appeal, the landmark fountain which provided fresh water to the Bairns of Grahamston for half a century has regained its commanding feature, and further restoration work is to follow.

The battle-scarred stone beast was painstakingly cleaned and restored by Grahamston Business Quality Masonry, and the wider initiative to rescue the monument from decay was launched by Falkirk heritage group the Society of John de Graeme.

Their interest in the project stems from the key significance of the monument.

It commemorates a knight who died defending Scottish freedom at the First Battle of Falkirk in 1298 - Sir John’s tomb can be found in Trinity churchyard - and perhaps several thousand men who died with him that day.

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.

It’s unlikely the memorial will function as a fountain again - public fountains were common in Scottish parks in the days when few homes could boast clean running water - but its supporters hope it will serve a more useful purpose in its new lease of life.

Besides reminding people about local heritage it may serve as the lynchpin of ongoing efforts to add to the amenity of the park.

David Reid of the Society of John de Graeme said: “Work to clean and repair the fountain and its steps - and redevelopment of the area around it - will begin shortly.

“Once completed it will be the memorial site it deserves to be once more, and a benefit to the local community, and

hopefully it will encourage further investment in improving Victoria Park”.

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