Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Fountain returns within a coin's throw

The Jaffe Fountain has returned to Victoria Square

If the magnificent glass dome is what makes Victoria Square iconic, then the Jaffé Fountain looks set to be its hallmark.

Indeed, in a nod to the city's architectural past, the impressive water feature has been restored and repositioned in its original location at the Victoria Street entrance to the shopping centre.

First constructed in 1874, to honour leading linen merchant Daniel Joseph Jaffé, its return was timed to coincide with the opening of the audacious new development.

The memorial was originally commissioned by Mr Jaffé's sons - one of whom was Sir Otto Jaffé, who later became Lord Mayor of Belfast.

In 1933, however, it was moved to a site at Botanic Gardens, on the embankment near King's Bridge, where it remained for more than 70 years, neglected and largely ignored - until recently.

Multi Development - the developers of Victoria Square - facilitated its restoration and relocation in conjunction with the owners of the monument, Belfast City Council.

In 2007, the monument was taken to England and given a full-scale restoration by Telford-based company Eura Conservation, which had to dismantle it piece by piece because of its fragile condition.

Extensive research and scientific analysis was also carried out on the various layers of paint in order to uncover the colours the original designers intended.

Paul Sargent, Multi Development UK's managing director, said the end result was in keeping with Belfast's architectural history.

"Victoria Square represents a blend of different architectural styles," he said.

"With the restoration of an elegant historic monument - and the splendid dome that is visible across the Belfast skyline - we are certain that we have not only fulfilled this philosophy but designed our best development to date here in Belfast."

And who knows? With 20 million visitors now expected to visit the city centre every year, we could be in for a lot of coin throwing . . . and perhaps the Jaffe fountain will be to Belfast what the Trevi Fountain is to Rome.

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