A long-running campaign to construct a replica fountain in Wooler's Market Place has been abandoned.
For the past five years, the Wooler Fountain Restoration Group has been trying to raise the money to rebuild the fountain that stood in the Market Place until it was removed in 1970.
All that remains of the old fountain is a commemoration stone which reads: ' This fountain was erected by public subscription in grateful acknowledgement of the many services rendered to this town and neighbourhood by the late William Wightman'.
The group had plans drawn up and obtained planning approval to build their replica fountain.
Northumbrian Water also offered its backing, and several other grants were secured, but about a year ago the group failed in their bid to get a sizeable grant from Heritage Lottery Fund. Since then they had been trying to find a cheaper way to get the fountain rebuilt.
Northumbrian Water put them in contact with their civil engineering contractor, Mott MacDonald Bentley (MMB), and it was hoped that MMB might agree to excavate and lay down a concrete base on which the fountain could be erected.
Unfortunately, when MMB did a small 'test pit' excavation on the proposed site in December, they discovered that the site is criss-crossed by a myriad of utility pipes and cables, which would greatly complicate and add to the expense.
Group chairman Robin Lawrie said: “We realise this means that MMB won't be able to help us after all. They were our last hope, and so we have reluctantly decided that the time has come to call a halt.
“We still hope to put up an interpretation panel, which will briefly tell the story of William Wightman and will show what the Fountain once looked like. We have learnt so much about this remarkable man – his story deserves to be told.”
William Wightman was clerk to the forerunner of Glendale Council and he was largely responsible for the laying on a proper water supply to Wooler in the late 1850’s, thus providing clean, safe drinking water to its inhabitants. He was also, and all at the same time, the Wooler Postmaster, the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths, and the first Manager of the Alnwick and County Bank (which later became Barclays).