Peacock Fountain

The Peacock Fountain, erected in 1911, stands near the Canterbury Museum at the Rolleston Avenue entrance to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

Restored Peacock Fountain
Restored Peacock Fountain. Creator (cre): Christchurch Star. © Christchurch Star

In 1904 the Honourable John Peacock bequeathed money to the Christchurch Beautifying Society "for the purpose of beautifying the reserves and gardens in the City of Christchurch and improving the Avon River."

Although it was initially proposed to erect a fountain in Cathedral Square, by 1910 the society decided to install the fountain in the Christchurch Domain Gardens. Although a hard stone design was initially considered, the committee eventually settled on a proposal in cast iron by Andersons Limited.

The fountain was produced in England by the Coalbrookdale Foundry.

The fountain is six metres in height and has fifty water jets which can reach a height of nine metres. The base is cruciform, with a central shaft decorated with four fish (each of which project water). Set atop the lower shaft is a large bowl with floral decorations (which also project water). An upper shaft, decorated with four herons, rises from the large bowl and is topped by a smaller bowl, also featuring floral decorations. A spire, topped with a decorative piece, rises from the smaller bowl.

It was decided to erect the fountain in a concrete pool in the vicinity of what is now the site of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery. It was unveiled in June 1911.

Initially the fountain attracted some criticism. Robert Herdman Smith, the director of the School of Art, called it “one of the most incongruous productions” and stated that it “violates every principle that goes to produce good ornament”.

In 1931, due to the construction of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, it was relocated to a depression in the Archery Lawn which was filled with water. By 1949 the fountain had ceased functioning due to the deterioration of internal parts. The fountain was then dismantled and placed in storage at the botanic gardens where several parts were lost. Some years prior to 1993 the parts were relocated to Ferrymead Historic Park.

In 1993 a project team was established to restore the fountain. In 1994 mechanical engineer, D.E. Burt, was hired to disassemble the fountain and ascertain which parts were operational and which would require repairing or replacement. During this process of restoration the parts were relocated from storage in Moorhouse Avenue to a storage building at the Fendalton service centre. 

With funding from both the Christchurch City Council and the public, the fountain was restored and reinstated in the botanic gardens near the Museum entrance on Rolleston Avenue. The fountain was officially opened by the Mayor, Vicki Buck, on 26 May 1996.

The dismantled Peacock Fountain

Members of the Christchurch Civic Trust and the Mona Vale committee examining dismantled parts of the Peacock Fountain ahead of restoration works. Pictured are, from left, Mayor N. G. Pickering, Cr R...