Fountains and Wash Houses

To drink, cook, do the housework, wash oneself, wash the linen, refresh the cattle, water is indispensable to life. Throughout history, this vital prerequisite has been essential in determining the site of many settlements. Vinça is no exception, situated as it is, close to the river Têt and crossed by many streams, among them the “Real” and the “Baldosa”;  Vinça is blessed with plentiful fresh water all the year round. 

Some of the fountains which still embellish the village have been recorded over many centuries, for example Font d’en Preses(1349) and font Nova (1420).Others have been modified, as was the one in rue du Barris in1810, while others have been rebuilt, such as the one at the gate of “Bari del Prat” The growing awareness of public hygiene since the middle of the nineteenth century led to the erection of public wash houses, especially after the legislative Assembly voted on 3rd February 1851 to grant special funds to have such amenities built. Up until then, the undifferentiated use of public water supply had obstructed what then became recognised as the need to combat such epidemics as cholera, typhoid fever small pox which had been all too frequent. A programme of constructing public wash houses was undertaken. 

These public wash houses and fountains were often made of local materials. The four remaining wash houses and the fifteen fountains, all still in use, are a good example of this : employing shingle or river pebbles, flag stone of schist, cairo, Conflent pink marble, sculpted stone, and in more recent times, sandstone cement and reinforced concrete.