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Brentford Drinking Fountain

Restoration of the drinking fountain

The Brentford Fountain originally stood a short distance north-west of Kew Bridge. It was unveiled by HRH Princess Mary, Duchess of Teck (grandmother of HOLT’s Patron HRH The Duke of Gloucester) in July 1877. The fountain had been offered by Mrs. Wheeler, 18 Eccleston Square, in 1877 as a memorial to her late husband, Samuel Wheeler, to the Metropolitan Board of Works for erection in central London along the Embankment, but the Board of Works declined. Mrs Wheeler was agreed to a new location at Kew Bridge. Kew Bridge became the location of Brentford Market, after fruit and vegetable growers, on their way to Covent Garden, realising they could save themselves a journey into London and trade locally. The fountain became the centre of the market.

By 1890 the informal and illegal trading with 60 wagons around the fountain was becoming a nuisance, causing congestion and blocking the road. A new market site was opened on 24th May 1893 and the fountain moved there. In 1974 the market moved again, to Southall, and became the new Western International Market – the fountain moved near its entrance. The old market site was abandoned and a leisure centre in its place named after the fountain, the ‘Fountain Leisure Centre’. In its current location it is notionally publicly accessible, but it has been not working for many years and the lamps and railings are broken. After many years of local discussion over relocation, including in local parks, which were rejected by the Council (it was ‘too big’), a suitable public site has been identified as part of the ‘Brentford Works’ redevelopment of the old Sega building site by Areli Developments.

The fountain is Victorian Gothic, in grey granite, with cast iron railings and lamp standards, inscribed GEO SMITH & Co SUN FOUNDRY GLASGOW. The east niche bears the inscription: 'The gift of Mrs Wheeler / the widow of / SAMUEL WHEELER Esq / formerly of / Barrow Hills Chertsey Surrey / and / Brunswick Terrace Brighton / 1877 / erected by the / Drinking Fountain & Cattle Trough / Association. In the west niche is a bronze plaque erected by the London Borough of Hounslow commemorating the opening of the Western International Market in 1974.

Barbeques and fires have been taking place in the granite fountain bowls and damaging the stone. Restoration will involve relocation to a public square in the new Brentford Works development. All lamps and ironwork will be restored and reconnected to electrics and the fountain itself cleaned, restored and repiped. Areli Developments – currently in planning – will ensure it is maintained and accessible for the public.

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