Drinking Fountain Association
One of our aims when we established DrinkingWaterFountains.co.uk was to also look to the history of drinking water fountains within the UK and further afield.
Research was done and one of the most interesting entities in the industy is the drinking fountains association – www.drinkingfountains.org. The content below is taken directly from the associations website and we encourage readers to look in depth at the site.
“The objectives of the Association are to promote the provision of drinking water for people and animals in the United Kingdom and Overseas and the preservation of the Association’s archive materials, artefacts, drinking fountains, cattle troughs and other installations.”
When the Association was set up in London in 1859 it was against a background of a filthy river Thames full of untreated sewage, rubbish and effluent from factories, water borne cholera, but most importantly inadequate free drinking water. An article in Punch magazine at the time of the Great Exhibition in 1851 said ‘Whoever can produce in London a glass of water fit to drink will contribute the best and most universally useful article in the whole exhibition’.
Then in 1858 a paper read to the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science on the work being done to improve sanitary arrangements provoked much nation interest, and Samuel Gurney M.P rapidly took up its comments. He set up the Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association (as it was then called) in 1859. Prince Albert wrote conveying his deep interest in the objects of the Association. Others giving their support included the Archbishop of Canterbury and a number of other prominent people.
So it was the first fountain was unveiled, on 21 April 1859, at the boundary wall of St.Sepulchre’s church, Snow Hill before a large enthusiastic crowd. (In fact it was recorded for posterity in an engraving, which appeared in the Illustrated London News as shown below).
Now approaching its 150th year the Association has provided over 4,000 drinking fountains, nearly 1,000 cattle troughs and 40 water wells overseas since 1859.