The fountain was erected in 1878 as a tribute to John Dodshon, local philanthropist and Quaker.
An inscription on the fountain suggests that the money was raised by voluntary subscription, but it may have been paid for by his three sons as a memorial to their father. Its purpose was to provide clean water for public use.
There are four bowls to the fountain, each of which originally held a bronze cup to enable the people to drink the water. At the base of the fountain, drinking troughs for animals were provided. This is believed to have been a fitting tribute to Dodshon’s beliefs in Temperance and his love for animals.
Its construction was not without controversy and one resident wrote to the local paper in 1878 to complain that ‘I pretend to know something about Stockton and what is going on, but I have never heard of a public subscription to John Dodshon before… I have every respect and admiration for the late Mr. Dodshon but I can not see anything wise in sticking up a privately-provided fountain, the design of which has not been submitted to the public… in one of the finest High Streets in Britain.’
Its first stay in the high street was relatively short lived. It had been positioned close to the fish market and, out of convenience, the fish sellers started to store fish and clean them in the fountain, tainting the water. So after 15 years it was removed to Ropner Park where it remained a feature for over a hundred years.
In 1995 the fountain was brought back to the High Street but was not placed in its original location.
The redevelopment of the High Street in 2014 has allowed the fountain to be re-sited close to its original position.