By Mario Minervino / [email protected]
Audio note: Gino Mondino (LU2)
After the controversy that sparked the choice of an electric blue color for its repainting last February, the fountain-drinking fountain on Cerri y Brandsen Avenue is about to recover its original color or at least try to get as close to it as possible.
For now, the decision made by the commune is to remove the layers of paint and paint it gray, although the tonality has yet to be defined.
This was confirmed to this newspaper by Christian Díaz, General Director of Museums and Art of our city, who took charge of analyzing the situation after municipal personnel intervened in the cast iron piece, choosing a color that many consider completely inappropriate.
“We summoned experts, among them architects, historians, engineers and restorers, to study the subject. One of the questions was to establish with certain accuracy what the original color of the piece was or if the iron was exposed in its natural state,” explained Díaz.
The first step was to remove the current paint, trying to detect what previous tones it had. It is known that when it was relocated to the site, in 1998, it was painted gray, although that was also an arbitrary decision, which did not necessarily respect the original tone.
The question is whether it is really possible to establish what the original color of the plate was, located in that place at the beginning of the 20th century.
At that time the blood traction was the protagonist of the local movement, both the services provided by the mateos, as well as the cars that distributed bread, milk, vegetables, ice, drinks and the quinteros of the city and the area. Having a place where the animals could drink water was a necessity that could not be ignored.
In addition to Brandsen and Cerri Avenue, there was a second course on Arias Avenue, on the way to Ingeniero White.
A person with authority to give his opinion is Héctor Guerreiro, who publishes the bulletin “Caminos de Hierro en Bahía Blanca” and is the author of the book “Losrailroads en Bahía Blanca (1884-1948)”.
In his opinion, the color of the sprue that is closest to the original is black.
“I lean towards that tone because it is the one that the English generally used on metals in the open: paint based on red lead as anti-rust and then they applied asphalt paint,” he explained. Black is present in the bridges built by the railway, both the pedestrian one on Cerri Avenue, as well as the one on Colón Avenue, between Chile and Brickman, and the one in Mayo Park.
In any case, it is not ruled out that it had a coppery color or that the iron was exposed, as is the case of the pedestrian bridge of the Spurr station, in Villa Rosas.
Studying the enhancement of similar drinking fountains in English cities, black seems to prevail, although there are singular cases, such as the legs painted in gold or the plates in blue or green.
A single original leg
The troughs that existed in the city, at least two, were purchased, through a catalog, from the Walter Macfarlane factory, with workshops in Saracen Foundry, Scotland, one of the most important architectural iron foundries in the world.
It is mentioned that “no company equaled its foundry in stature, quality, production or global reach”.
Macfarlane cast iron items can be found in India, Australia, Malaysia, Canada and Greece, Mexico, Chile, Brazil and Argentina.
The company employed prominent artists for its designs. The decoration was very attractive and the local business houses had drawing books and catalogs of their products, with a variety that included electrical appliances, stoves and fireplaces, elements for stables, agricultural implements, structures for kiosks, stairs and canopies, gates and bars and, of course, different types of drinking fountains, including those that were chosen for our city, which had an alternative model that included a lighting column in its center.
A work far from the original
A not minor detail of the Brandsen and Cerri avenue drinking fountain is that, except for one of its legs, the rest is not part of the original work, but rather it is a reconstruction carried out in 1998, by the administration of Mayor Jaime Linares, after the discovery , in the municipal workshops, from one of the legs that held the plate.
The drinking fountain had been removed from its place in the 1960s for a repair that was never carried out.
With this single element, the foundry workshops of the Puerto Belgrano Naval Base were used to remake, as a first step, the three missing legs.
Subsequently, the plate was made, with the labor of employees of the communal workshops, based on photographs and a careful reproduction work to scale.
Finally, the decision was made to relocate it to its original location, although converted into part of a fountain, placing the piece on a pedestal and not on the cobblestones, such was its true position.
Gray was then chosen as the finish, although that choice did not respond to a meticulous investigation of the color at the time of its arrival in our city.