Last Thursday, Whanganui's Watt fountain celebrated 136 years with a spruce up.
This was followed by a formal ceremony, complete with speeches, bagpipes, a ribbon cutting and a street fair with a band.

Pictured at the fountain are descendants of the Watt family and, in particular, William Hogg Watt, mayor of the borough and donor of Westmere Lake to the city to use as a water supply. Standing are Anna Scoullar-Jones, Gay Meuli, Annie Fleetwood, David Scoullar and Jim Watt. In front is Colleen Watt, Jim's wife. Jim and Colleen live in Havelock North and Annie in Wellington. The others are Whanganui residents.
Annie and Jim are descendants of William Hogg Watt. Anna, Gay and David are descendants of Andrew Watt, WH Watt's younger half brother.

WH Watt and TB Taylor, Scottish seafarers, arrived in Whanganui in 1842 in their 10 tonne cutter and went into business on the coastal trade, the start of a successful partnership which ended when Taylor drowned in Cook Strait. WH Watt's brother John, also a seafarer, was involved in the business, too.

Andrew, the result of a second marriage and much younger, arrived in Whanganui in 1860 with his father George. He farmed here and later became a Presbyterian lay minister at Turakina.


There were also Taylor descendants at the fountain ceremony and the two families, celebrating their longtime linkage, have held combined reunions. Next August is the 200th anniversary of the birth of WH Watt and thinking about how to mark this has begun.

The Watt descendants are all very happy with the refurbishment of the fountain.
"They have done a fantastic job," they said.
The ribbon was cut by present mayor Hamish McDouall with assistance from Ed Boyd and Peter Robinson.

The ceremony was begun by piper Randhir Dahya followed by a re-enactment of the original opening speech from 1881 - with modern embellishments - by Chris McKenzie.
Jazz Connexion played on the footpath and food caravans added to the festive atmosphere.