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King Edward VII Fountain

Restoration of the fountain

The King Edward VII Fountain is a drinking fountain on the Whitechapel Road, erected "from subscriptions raised from Jewish inhabitants of East London" in memory of Edward VII and unveiled by Charles Rothschild in March 1912. The idea for the fountain had come from the Jewish writer Annie Gertrude, whose journalist husband had learned of the death of King Edward VII in 1910 through a crossed line with Home Secretary Winston Churchill, securing a scoop for the Daily News.

The bronze figures of the Angel of Peace, the Angel of Liberty, the figure of Justice and cherubs holding various objects are by sculptor William Silver Frith. The cherubs’ objects were of significance to the Jewish community at the time of the memorial's unveiling. The ship represents members of the local Jewish community who were recent immigrants. The cherub holding a needle and thread signifies the clothing industry which employed the majority of the East End Jewish community until the 1970s. The book is held by another cherub signifying the importance of education to the community both from the local secular Jewish schools and the Talmudic. The car held by a cherub shows the increasing pace of modernity and the shift away from the horse and cart in modern London. One face bears a relief portrait of the King wearing the Order of the Garter. The fountain itself was made by Henry Poole, who also carved the Southwark caryatids.

The fountain will be dismantled to base and rebuilt to allow reinstatement of drinking fountain water supply and operating mechanism. The internal leadwork will be replaced with modern pipework, fixtures and fittings. A new push button system will need to be installed. The stone surfaces will be cleaned, all bronze elements will be waxed and old mortar repairs replaced. The foundation will be prepared to accommodate all water pipes and drainage outlets to be set in place and connected. The base stones will be reset, and joints pointed up in lime mortar. The bronze elements will be reset. A plaque will be installed.

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