The James Spring Drinking Fountain and Horse Trough was removed from its position outside the Merewether Building’s City Road frontage. A City of Sydney spokesperson said that it has been taken to a stonemason’s yard for planned restoration. It is scheduled to be reinstated later this year.
The drinking fountain and horse trough, erected in 1910, constructed from a single stone, and originally weighing over six tonnes, was a gift to the municipality by Alderman James Spring and was the architectural work product of a Mr. Morrow and Mr. De’Purton. Alderman Spring served as Mayor of Darlington for 14 years and was a widely respected local businessman and philanthropist.
While no longer functioning as a drinking fountain and with no local horses around to make use of its trough, its utility before its untimely demise was limited to heritage and local character — a fixture of the walk to and from the University of Sydney along King Street. It was also a stark reminder of the original suburb of Darlington and its diminishment at the mercy of University expansion from the 1950s onwards.
The drinking fountain and horse trough are a listed item on the State Heritage Inventory, as a part of the City of Sydney’s Local Environmental Plan, with the statement of significance identifying it as “A rare surviving example of a finely carved horse trough and drinking fountain, indicating a high level of civic pride.”