Wood Green Fountain
High Rd, Wood Green, London N22

Restoration of the cattle trough and fountain

Restoration of the cattle trough and fountain

By the 19th century, drinking water was becoming a severe problem for London’s inhabitants, with massive population increase, industrial waste contaminating rivers and water sources, and old medieval conduits falling out of use. There were frequent cholera epidemics. In 1859 ‘The Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association’ was founded in order that ‘free drinking fountains, yielding pure cold water, would confer a boon on all classes, and especially the poor’. Fountains were often located near pubs in order to divert working men from the temptations of alcohol. Cattle and horses also suffered with lack of water: by 1885, over 50,000 horses were drinking from London’s troughs every day.

The Wood Green cattle trough and fountain, dating to 1901, is unusual in its elaborate detail. It is sited on the main Wood Green thoroughfare and adjacent to the 19th century Fishmongers’ Arms – a pub once well known as a music venue for the biggest bands from the 1960s; now closed and locally listed.

The fountain is on the ‘Heritage at Risk list’. Rusting tubular steel work in the main trough is expanding, the boar’s head is damaged, the basin is chipped, decorative spouts are lost and the Portland stone is worn. Its tarmac surround sprouts with buddleia. The Heritage of London Trust has launched a restoration project which will include masonry and structural repair, resetting the railings so the fountain is accessible from the street and site interpretation.