Oldham Historical Research Group

The Dunwood Park Drinking Fountain

Heritage Project Brief

The Friends of Dunwood Park, having celebrated a major restoration project for the park, are now submitting a bid for Heritage Lottery Funds to restore the drinking fountain (pictured) which was erected in 1926 in Dunwood Park. The fountain was the work of sculptor Richard R Goulden, who two years previously, had made the magnificent Crompton War Memorial. The statue was originally exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition in Wembley in 1924 and purchased anonymously by "a gentleman and a lady", of Crompton for £300 and then erected just off the main promenade in the park. The bronze figures of a mother and child stood on a Scottish granite plinth and a working drinking fountain with cup was used by park users to obtain running water.

The bronze tablet in front of the fountain bore the inscription:-

"This fountain is placed here as a mark of appreciation of the self-sacrifice and devotion of women of Crompton during the Great War. Help one another."

The Dunwood Park Drinking Fountain
Unfortunately the sculpture, plaque and drinking fountain were all stolen in April 1968 and the picture below shows all that now remains. The Friends group hope to restore it to its former glory and in doing so spread word of this important and unique aspect of local history and commemorate in a variety of ways the amazing story of the actions of the women of Shaw and Crompton in raising funds for guns in1918.
During Gun week (18th – 23rd November 1918), in what turned out to be the last month of the war, an incredible total of £607,100 (actual cash and not altered for inflation) was raised locally to buy guns for the war effort. When the final total was counted it was £656,321 which equated to an average of £43 per head of population and earned Crompton the title of "Champions of the British Isles". The Crompton Gun Committee had aimed to raise £478,500 in bonds to invest with the Government but they exceeded all expectations and to put this in context large cities like Liverpool raised around £20,000 during similar weeks of fund raising.

It is often stated that Shaw and Crompton, prior to the start of World War I, had more millionaires per square mile than anywhere else in the world due to the boom years in the cotton trade and this would appear to prove this claim. Notwithstanding a number of wealthy individuals, this amount of money must have represented sacrificial giving on behalf of many of the women of Crompton but as many of their men were giving their lives at this time this may put such sacrificial giving in some context. How did they raise such amounts? What was it like in Shaw and Crompton in 1918? How did the news from France affect life in the mills?? Many questions which we hope this project will answer.


It is proposed that the Dunwood Park Heritage project will run from 2014 – 2018 and thus commemorate the centenary of the First World War. The project will work with local schools as well as a number of community groups and organisations. It will have three main strands

* The restoration of the fountain:
a scheme for the restoration will be developed and implemented. The restoration will be complemented by the production of interpretation material to be on display within Dunwood Park and on the Friends of Dunwood Park website. The area around the fountain will be planted and it will become a focus for activity around the commemoration of life during the first World War in Dunwood Park and surrounding areas. The completion of the restoration and interpretation material will be celebrated with a unique event.

* A local social heritage project:
Volunteers will be recruited and specialist partners will be engaged to research into the history of the monument and a particular task will be to investigate and uncover the names, background and lifestyles of those involved in raising the monies during Gun Week and how they managed to raise such an amount. What exactly was the "self sacrifice" referred to on the plaque? Why did the fountain come to Dunwood Park, how was it received, who used it?.

* An exploration and commemoration of the First World War:
A series of initiatives will be developed that allows all sectors of the community to engage and contribute to the exploration of local lives, including women's suffrage and local conscientious objectors. It is intended to develop a programme of Summer Saturday workshops taking particular topics such as Creative writing, exploring the poets of World War I, local action in the Women's Suffragette Movement, war efforts in the local mills and industries etc. In a variety of imaginative ways the unique achievement of the women of Crompton during this period will be remembered and celebrated.

Working with local primary and secondary schools the project will enable our young people to undertake research of how the war impacted upon Crompton and Shaw, its communities and individuals. Using photographs and oral histories it is hoped to link the past and present and working with the relevant professionals produce a short film.

If you would be interested in helping in any of the above areas over the next four years, or have photographs or can remember the fountain prior to 1968 or indeed have any local knowledge or memorabilia of events around the WWI period in Shaw and Crompton please do get in touch by email Dunwoodparkfriends@gmail.com

Contributed by: Susan Forshaw and Carol Hughes

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