Inspiration for the fountain was a wish in 1978 of founder chairman Alan Melville, influenced by fountains in the squares of villages and towns in France. Members of the committee of Hertford Civic Society gathered up the dream and organised a competition for the fountain’s design and construction, intended to displace some of the parking for cars in Salisbury Square.
During 1985 five proposals were delivered – such as ‘a group of flying swans’, a ‘6m bronze flower spouting water’, and an ‘abstract cuboid man’. All five were laughed off. A mention was made of an interesting, established sculptor working with water. The sculptor was sought and invited to consider the site in Hertford. William Pye studied the site and soon inspired the committee with drawings and a simple working model.
Planning permission was obtained and William Pye was asked to realise his design for depicting the mingling of the four rivers flowing through the green spaces surrounding Hertford. Several visits were made to his studio near Clapham Common to see the precise fabrication in brass of the unique structure, with pipes to circulate water up and over the sculpture.
Meanwhile conversations continued with councillors and planners about using the space for a sculpture to replace cars. Fortunately ideas and funds were being provided to rearrange and pedestrianise the centre of Hertford. Suddenly the landscapers found an urgent need for a feature in Salisbury Square and requested the design of a base and installation of Confluence in the revamped centre. Stonemasons carved Portland stone for the base.
Installation was by a specialist sculpture engineer and made ready for the re-opening of the area and presentation to the Town on 11 th November 1994. Since that day the society has maintained and serviced Confluence with funds from a legacy from Mrs Elsie Medlock of North Road House.
Sometimes the Hertford Secret Yarnbombers take it over:
Pye’s work has been recognised recently in A Royal Grand Design (ITV 30/11/22) with refurbishment of the Salisbury Square Fountain Designer’s garden centre piece at Dumfries House in Scotland: