Restoration plans for historic fountain

Market Street's Whyte Melville Fountain.
Market Street's Whyte Melville Fountain.

ST Andrews Community Council has backed a proposal to restore an historic landmark in the heart of the university town centre.

Behind the initiative is local Fife Councillor Bill Sangster, who successfully sought the backing of the community organisation to investigate the viability of having the Whyte Melville fountain refurbished and returned to full operation.

The monument in the centre of Market Street is annually filled with flowers, but was originally a working fountain having been erected in 1880 by public subscription in memory of novelist Major George Whyte Melville, Mount Melville and Strathkinness.

It is built from sandstone and Dalbeattie granite, and its two basins rise to a height of approximately 14 feet. In the centre are marble plaques dedicated to the Major, including his bust, his family coat of arms, the arms of the Coldstream Guards, and an inscription laying him to rest.

Councillor Sangster said:”The fountain was intended to be a focal point in the centre of the town and over the years there have been many requests to have it restored.”

With Market Street now undergoing a £1.5 million improvements’ scheme, he has taken the opportunity to gauge the possibility for the fountain to be upgraded at the same time.

He told the Citizen,”There seems to be some positive feedback to have this project advanced and it is intended to replace the existing pipework with a new metered water system and provide ducting for future power connections should they be required. Some of the damaged stonework would be replaced.”

If the fountain could be made to work, Fife Council is interested in a local organisation taking responsibility for its long-term management.


Fife-born Whyte Melville was a renowned Victorian author, writing 24 books of which some were historical, while others gave an insight into society in the third quarter of the 19th century from the perspective of an English gentleman.

Aged 18, he received a commission in the 93rd Highland Regiment and in 1846 he exchanged into the Coldstream Guards and rose to the rank of captain. He sold his commission in 1849 and began to turn his hand to writing. After the Crimean War broke out in 1854, he obtained a commission as a Major in the Turkish Irregular Cavalry and retired from the army a second and final time when the war ended.

Elected a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in 1839, he served as its captain in 1851 and his portrait hangs in the clubhouse.

He died after falling from his horse whilst hunting shortly before Christmas in 1878.