The Bermondsey Square Community Fund contributed to to the restoration of the Victorian drinking fountain located on Watch House, Bermondsey Street.
The drinking fountain is dated 1859 and was probably intended to help reduce cholera infections by providing a source of clean water. The Watch House drinking fountain is one of the of the earliest in London and was a gift of local GP and surgeon Henry Sterry Esq. (1801 – 1873).
The restoration project was organised by Foragers Bermondsey Street and included applying ammonia to the limestone, removing all the grime and generally giving it a clean up.
Importance of Drinking Fountains in Victorian London
Access to clean drinking water was an important issue when the Watch House Drinking Fountain was opened. In the same year, The Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association was established to promote the provision of drinking water. The first fountain was unveiled on 21 April 1859 across the Thames in Snow Hill. It was quickly being used by 7,000 people a day. Philanthropists like Henry Sterry contributed funds to other projects and by 1870 there were 140 drinking fountains in London.
Cholera wasn’t the only evil water fountains were intended to battle. Many drinking fountains were set up opposite pubs to provide an alternative to alcohol!
21st Century Drinking Fountains
Public drinking fountains aren’t a thing of the past however. In 2010, the FindaFountain campaign was launched to encourage people to use drinking fountains instead of environmentally damaging bottled water. A map showing the location of UK drinking water fountains is published on the FindaFountain website.
About Bermondsey Square Community Fund
The Bermondsey Square Trust collects money from the occupiers and owners of Bermondsey Square through the occupiers’ leases and grants awards for ‘The marketing animation and promotion of the Bermondsey Square Estate and making a positive contribution to the wider neighbourhood and community of Bermondsey.’About the Community Fund