Information about the fountain in the Botanic Gardens on Armstrong Lawn adjacent to Canterbury Museum.
A highly ornate three tier cast-iron fountain set in large circular pool. A rare example of this type of Edwardian design, Iron Fountain Design No.38 stands 7.6m tall and is decorated with dolphins, herons, lily leaves and foliage.
In 1905, wealthy business man John Thomas Peacock died and left a generous bequest to the Christchurch Beautifying Society "for the purpose of beautifying the reserves and gardens in the city". The society decided to use the money to purchase a fountain for the Botanic Gardens and chose a design from the famous Coalbrookdale Foundry in Shropshire, England.
Erected in 1911, adjacent to where the Robert McDougall Gallery now stands, the fountain drew mixed opinions with members of the art elite calling it "over-blown Edwardian bloom" and that it looked like "the gaudy decorations used by travelling showman to embellish their merry-go-rounds". The fountain was moved twice before the decision was made to dismantle and store the fountain due to ongoing maintenance issues in 1949.
Despite it's apparent unpopularity with the art community, there a was a lot of public support for the fountain's restoration in the Botanic Gardens during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1994 restoration work began which involved recasting 158 of the 309 pieces, cleaning, earthquake strengthening and painting before it was recommissioned by Mayor Vicki Buck in 1996.
While the form and colours have caused contention over the years, the Peacock Fountain is an icon for many Cantabrians and is seen by many as being an integral part of the Botanic Gardens. It is historically significant as one of only two Coalbrookdale fountains in New Zealand, the other in Mona Vale, and having been designed by eminent Victorian sculptor John Bell who was responsible for a number of famous statues and monuments in London.