The fountain was Sophia Gardens' best known feature and it was pictured in many postcards from the early 1900s. It was placed along a path leading east from the main north-south walk, approximately 90 metres from the south entrance.
Quoting from the Cardiff Times of the 25th June 1859, A. A. Pettigrew wrote that, 'On the 20th September 1859, "The Marchioness of Bute visited the gardens for the first time, and before leaving gave instructions to erect a handsome fountain on a site fixed upon by her Ladyship". This was probably her only visit, for she died on the 28th December following.'
The fountain was duly built and its opening was described in the Cardiff Times as follows: The handsome fountain recently erected in the above gardens by the Marquis of Bute, commenced playing for the first time, on Thursday afternoon [3rd August 1860]. A number of ladies and gentlemen were present, while the Militia band greatly enhanced the pleasure on the occasion, by playing an excellent programme, in their usual good style.
The fountain was shown on successive Ordnance Survey maps up to and including 1940.
A report in the Evening Express in 1894 reported that the gardens had been neglected, sitting accomodation had almost disappeared and the fountain never played. The fountain bowl was reportedly filled with gravel and a few inches of dirty water.
By the early 1950s the fountain had been removed, and that section of the Gardens was remodelled for the construction of a pavilion for the 1951 Festival of Britain. In 1982, following a heavy snow fall on the night of 9th January, the roof of the pavilion collapsed, and the building was subsequently demolished. The Sophia Gardens car park now occupies this space.
Sources of Information