Dr James Ramsay Fountain – Prahran, Australia - Atlas Obscura

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Dr James Ramsay Fountain

Prahran, Australia

This Australian drinking fountain pays tribute to the generosity and talent of a 19th-century Scottish doctor.  


Situated directly in front of the historic Independent Church of Prahran sits this drinking fountain that pays tribute to a local hero. Erected in 1907 and officially unveiled by the Mayor of Prahran in an official public ceremony, this fine basalt, granite, and marble monument is dedicated to the life and services of Dr. James Kerr Ramsay.

Ramsay was born in Scotland and graduated with a medical degree from the esteemed Glasgow University in 1863. It was in Koroit, a small rural town in western Victoria, that he found his first job in Australia to practice medicine. Ramsay then made his way towards Melbourne, where in Prahran and the surrounding areas he made a lasting impact on the health needs of the local population.

Initially working as a resident medical officer at the Alfred Hospital, it was in 1872 that he began community work in South Yarra. In 1900, he purchased land and developed a community medical practice at 244 Malvern Road (where interestingly there is still a medical clinic there to this day).

It was after his death that funds were raised by members of the community to build a lasting memory in his honor. The Prahran City Council also backed these fundraising efforts. At a time where there was great division between social classes, Ramsay sought to disregard this. Records show that he frequently reached out to treat and make a difference in the lives of the poorer members of the community. His impact on the area is best summed up by this extract from the Prahran Telegraph’s article from the fountain’s official unveiling in 1907: “The work is generally regarded as a most useful and appropriate memorial to the esteem and affection in which the late doctor was held locally.”

The water no longer flows from the fountain but the inscriptions can be read to this day for visitors to Princes Gardens. 

Know Before You Go

This fountain can be visited by the Independent Church of Prahran. This historic place of worship is now used as the Chapel Off Chapel arts venue for musical and theatre performances. Visitors can also explore the Prince's Gardens of Prahran. 

The fountain is no longer active with water but remains in a well-preserved condition. 

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October 4, 2021

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