Ever seen a fountain with its own walrus?

Got your attention there, didn’t we?

It’s not just walruses … dolphins, herons and cherubs all feature in Paisley’s fantastic Grand Fountain.

As you’ll guess by the name, the fountain is the big draw in Paisley’s Fountain Gardens. The oldest public park in the town – gifted by famous philanthropist Thomas Coats in 1868 – the gardens and their eccentric fountain are much beloved by the Buddies.

Coats had the site – originally laid out in 1797 – redesigned by the famous landscape architect James Craig Niven of Glasgow. Niven’s design is a grand, geometric layout with broad walkways all leading to an ornate fountain at the centre, containing statues of the aforementioned herons, dolphins and walruses.

A major feature for the time was the elaborate ironwork of lamps, gates and railings. Coats also paid for ornate seats, drinking fountains, a cast-iron verandah, rock garden and alpine beds.The gardens also have connections with two icons of Scottish history.

A sapling taken from the original ‘Wallace Oak’ in Elderslie, prior to the tree’s destruction in 1856, was planted in the new garden. Legend tells that William Wallace himself hid in this tree to avoid capture by his enemies.

A statue of poet Robert Burns was erected in the gardens in the 1890s – the cost funded from money raised by concerts given by the Tannahill Choir on the Gleniffer Braes. The statue is reputed to be the finest Burns statue in Britain.

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Architectural treasures and hidden gems

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“I remember sunbathing and playing in the Fountain Gardens as a young kid.”

Claire McFadyen
Paisley Buddie

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