Early’s Fountain was erected in 1881.  It is situated in York Gardens, though prior to 1899 the area was known as Tuck’s Plot, where Mr Tuck used to graze his donkeys.   Richard Dewdney Early, was a local stone mason and builder, more famous for building Early’s Wall near Coryton Cove.

According to local newspapers of the time, however, the erection of the ornamental  fountain was attributed to a Mr Hatcher, a local businessman and member of the Dawlish Local Board (a forerunner of Dawlish Town Council).  Mr Hatcher was reported as having opened the fountain in June 1881, with the work ‘having been satisfactorily completed by Mr Crow’.

A new waterworks system had been installed in Dawlish at this time, and the fountain was fed by means of a holding reservoir to provide a head of water.  The first trial of the new fountain was reported to have thrown up a column of water nearly 80 feet high, using only the central jet. 

Mr Hatcher’s vision was for the fountain “to be a handsome central jet of fanciful design, which will revolve and throw off the water in fantastic ways”.  It was intended that the fountain would play for five hours daily.

From old photographs, it was evident that the fountain produced a far larger and more impressive  display than in more recent times.  Then, in colder winters the water sometimes froze over in a spectacular cascade.