Tuesday, 1 January 2013

W.J. Castling Memorial

The next time you stop for an ice cream at Gelatissimo on the Strand, take the time to walk across the road and admire the magnificent craftsmanship that went into this memorial.

W.J. Castling Memorial, Anzac Park, The Strand. Photo: T. Fielding, 2010
Erected by public subscription in 1908, it was a fully functioning public drinking fountain, that was originally located diagonally opposite the former Customs House, on the Strand. The structure was built to commemorate the life of a prominent Townsville citizen, William Joseph Castling, who drowned in Ross Creek in 1906. Castling settled in Townsville in 1876 and became a very successful businessman, as a partner in the butchering firm Johnson and Castling.

Castling was very active in the municipal affairs of the community and served several terms as Alderman on the Townsville Council in the 1880s. He was also a member of the Thuringowa Divisional Board, the Townsville Building Society, the Fire Brigade, the Chamber of Commerce, the Ayr Tramway Board, was a trustee of the Townsville Grammar School, and one of the original trustees of the Sports Reserve. Castling also served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Townsville from 1896 to 1899.

W.J. Castling Memorial, in its original location opposite the Customs House, no date.
Photo: CityLibraries Townsville Local History Collection
At the official opening of the fountain in November 1908, Castling was described by his friend Mr R. McKimmin, ‘as a man who was respected and beloved by all who knew him’. The Townsville Daily Bulletin wrote:
The late W.J. Castling was a very worthy citizen who had devoted a great deal of his time to public duties, both as Parliamentary representative and in municipal affairs. He had started in a small way and borne the heat and burden of the day, and when he had succeeded he did not hesitate to give freely to deserving objects, and that was the best thing that could be said of a man.
The memorial fountain was designed and expertly crafted by local monumental masons Melrose and Fenwick. The fountain was constructed of marble and freestone (in this case sandstone from Pyrmont in Sydney). A pedestal and four basins are made from marble, and topped with four beautifully carved sandstone columns, which in turn are topped by a circular dome. Crowning the entire structure is a richly carved octagonal finial. 
One of the marble basins. A patch in the sandstone shows
where a tap was originally positioned. Photo: T. Fielding

A closeup of the richly carved sandstone adorning the memorial.
Photo: T. Fielding
The fountain was moved to its present location in Anzac Memorial Park in the mid 1920s. The four taps were removed and the resultant holes in the sandstone patched, so that it is no longer a working fountain, but continues as a memorial, both to the man it was erected to honour, and to the monumental masons that crafted it.
Lead lettering on the memorial. Photo: T. Fielding