At a time when London’s water was heavily polluted with sewage and industrial waste, the drinking fountain was literally a life-saver. With the common man resorting to alcohol as the only reliably safe beverage, the Temperance Movement put up many drinking fountains near pubs.

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Drinking Fountains 1 2


This lovely figure of a nursing mother by French sculptor Jules Dalou (1838-1902) was erected by the Drapers and Merchant Taylors City Livery Companies in 1879. It had an ornate stone canopy (bomb-damaged in WWII) like the one nearby, whose statue of Temperance was removed to Blackfriars in 1911.

Royal Exchange EC3
Tube: Bank


Samuel Gurney presented this fountain to the Royal Exchange site in 1861 but it was moved to make way for the City War Memorial. Sculpted by Wills Bros for the Coalbrookdale Iron Company, it originally had three dolphins around the base - you can still see the holes for them. (In storage during rail works).

New Bridge Street EC4
Tube: Blackfriars

First Drinking Fountain

In 1859, The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Association was set up by Samuel Gurney MP to offer free water and thus discourage alcohol- the only source of sterile drink for many. This first one - like many - was set up opposite a pub.  Set into the railings of St Sepulchre’s Church, it still retains two cups on a chain.

Giltspur Street EC1
Tube: St Paul’s

Finsbury Square

The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Association became the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association in 1867 (http://drinkingfountains.org) - a time when streets were thronged with livestock and horses. This was built in 1898 by Thomas and Walter Smith in memory of their mother.

Finsbury Square EC2
Tube: Moorgate

Phoenix Well Pump

This handpump on the side of the Royal Exchange marks the spot where ‘a well was first made and a House of Correction [a prison] built thereon by Henry Wallis, Mayor of London, in the year 1282’. ‘The Well was discovered, much enlarged and this pump erected in the year 1799.’

Cornhill EC3
Tube: Bank

Holy Trinity Church

Set into church railing, opposite a pub, this is a classic setting for a Victorian drinking fountain. This granite example also incorporates a low level outlet for dogs. The fountains were installed for free, but local councils had to maintain them - something they have more or less stopped doing.

Pitfield Street N1
Tube: Old Street