Czech town proudly unveils age-old statue of peeing boy with fascinating history

The famous Manneken-Pis has gained world fame as the emblem of Brussels. Very few people, even here in the Czech Republic, know that one Czech town has a statue of a peeing boy as well. Nobody knows exactly when it was installed, but it is known to have been more than just an attractive decoration in the local railway station.

The statue of a little boy kneeling and peeing into a fountain in the west Bohemian town of Plasy, close to Plzen, is known to have graced the local railway station since the early 1950s, but it is likely to have been there for much longer, since it served as an indicator of the water level of a tank required for the operation of steam locomotives.

However, with the passing of time and the arrival of modern technology it became a mere decoration. In the mid 1990’s water stopped flowing into the fountain and during the station’s reconstruction in 2018 the statue of the peeing boy disappeared completely for a time. It was later discovered by local enthusiasts, unharmed. Petr Tupy, a local patriot and railway enthusiast, explains how it once served dispatchers.

Photo: Karolína Sedláková,  Czech Radio

"The statue was placed on the edge of the fountain. The water flowed into the pool by gravity from the tanks in the waterworks building, which was located a few meters from the fountain. Water from the waterworks was needed for the operation of steam locomotives. A system of floats and contactors in the tanks ensured a constant supply of water. There was also a watermark on the waterworks building, which was a crucial indicator of the water level in the tanks, but it was easier for the train dispatcher to look at the peeing boy since the statue was directly in his line of vision from the platform. It was a simple indicator of the water level - if the boy stopped peeing, he knew the tanks were empty and there was a technical problem.”

Within the reconstruction of the railway station the fountain, which had been badly damaged, was restored, and the statue of the little peeing boy was returned to its former place. The statue, which now has pride of place on the list of the town’s cultural legacy, was unveiled last Saturday, fully operational after 27 long years. But, as befits the present day and age, today it pees with the help of a solar pump.

Although the statue of the little peeing boy has a fascinating history, there is surprisingly little information about it in the local archives. Nobody seems to know who created it for the local railway station and who devised the sophisticated mechanism that helped it to safeguard the operation of steam engines passing through the town.

Authors: Daniela Lazarová , Karolína Sedláková
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