The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme


Pierhead fountain, Stromness


The fountain commemorates the 18th-century Stromness merchant Alexander Graham. Graham led his fellow merhants in protest against unfair taxation from Kirkwall, a levy dating back to the time when Kirkwall was a privileged Royal Burgh and thus entitled to engage in foreign trade. Graham asserted that it was unfair to  tax the merchants of Stromness without giving them the right to representation in trade matters. The court case took many years to resolve, ending in 1754 with the House of Lords freeing Stromness of its obligations towards Kirkwall and allowing the town to trade freely. Graham was financially ruined, and died penniless in 1783.
The cast iron fountain dates from 1901 and was made by the Saracen Foundry, Glasgow. The horses' hooves give a clue to its original function - a drinking trough for horses, still the main form of transport through the narrow streets at that time. The fountain also had spouts, and metal cups attached to chains, for the use of thirsty passers-by. No water flows now, but in summer the fountain is planted with a variety of annuals for a colourful flower display.