The charity Improving Ilkley has launched a competition for local artists to design a key water feature that will be the centrepiece of a prominent restoration project positioned in the heart of the town.
The competition is part of a project to bring the former Brook Street fountain, and the surrounding public space, back to life after being left defunct for many years.
A spokesperson for Improving Ilkley said: “The original fountain was designed by a local and as such, we thought it would be a fitting legacy for the same process to take place, nearly 140 years later.
“Therefore we are launching a competition and seeking the expertise of a professional designer and/or 3D artist to design the actual fountain centerpiece of our beautiful town.”
Originally opened in 1865, the ornate fountain reflected the optimism of its age. The prominent position overlooking the town was carefully selected to create maximum impact. The winning design was chosen from entries to a public competition overseen by the Town Health Board.
Over the years the fountain mechanism failed, the central waterspout feature was replaced in the 1960s following vandalism and the original lost. Since then, the fountain has never worked. The ingenious gravity feed mechanism was deemed to be too difficult to replace and the structure too costly to maintain. Only the concrete bowl now remains and for many years it has been used as a flowerbed.
Improving Ilkley, the charity set up to take on local projects such as this, carried out a feasibility study earlier this year. The results show that, thanks to modern engineering, a gravity-fed water supply can be reinstated at a reasonable cost. Furthermore, the fountain bowl structure itself and its dressed stone surround is safe and largely intact. This information makes a restoration and improvement project possible.
This project seeks to reinstate the fountain as a new central feature by mid-2023.
The deadline for entries is 19th February 2023, a shortlist of three designs, adjudicated by a cross-section of local stakeholder groups including Ilkley Town Council and Ilkley Civic Society, will be announced. This will be followed by a public exhibition where the local community will have an opportunity to comment on the designs and indicate a preference.
The winning design will then be announced on Friday 31st March 2023. The winner with receive a cash prize of £500 and will go on to further develop their design with Improving Ilkley and a local fabricator.
The charity is aiming for the fountain to be installed and opened August 2023.