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Penge Drinking Fountain

Restoration of the drinking fountain

Penge Recreation Ground opened in 1888. The drinking fountain was offered by Emily Blundell Maple (1856-1919), wife of Dulwich MP Sir John Blundell Maple (1845-1903) Chairman of Messrs Maple & Co., furniture company. Sir John Blundell Maple had built the business from his father’s small furniture shop in Tottenham Court Road. He was the developer of the Great Central Hotel at Marylebone station, which opened in 1899. As MP, he sponsored bills in Parliament in 1891 and 1893 to encourage cheaper train fares for working men, to support clerks in his constituency who commuted to the City. His public benefactions included a hospital and a recreation ground in St Albans and the rebuilding of University College Hospital, London. Maple was knighted in 1892 and made a baronet in 1897.

In a letter published in the Penge Vestry, 1888, Mrs Maple wrote:
“I hear that the grounds are very pretty, and that they are visited by a great many people. It has also come to my attention that there is no drinking fountain in the grounds, and the object of my letter is to say that I shall be most happy to erect a drinking fountain, with a dog's trough underneath, in the centre of the grounds, in commemoration of the return of my husband for the Dulwich Division, provided the vestry will undertake to see that the water is continually supplied and the fountain properly maintained.”
There is a Grade II listed 1889 drinking fountain of the same design at St Martin's Gardens, Camden, donated by Messrs Maples & Co. of Tottenham Court Road.

The main body of the fountain is constructed from red and grey Aberdeen Granite. The drinking bowl section is missing (broken off) and the larger finial and neck sections are also missing. There is some organic and sulphation staining on the lower areas of the fountain as well as in the joints and crevasses. Some of the joints between sections have failed.The rear hatch is missing, and the internal plumbing is disconnected, with only the original cut-off lead feedpipe showing.

The project will include a DOFF Clean plus a poultice a weak acid (vinegar) suspended in arbosol paper pulp. Sulphation stains will be removed using Ammonium Carbonate poultice at 10% solution. The fountain will then be dismantled using stainless steel diamond wire. All old plumbing will be removed. If the foundation is weak or inadequate, a new concrete foundation will be cast in situ. New clean water feed pipes will be installed to the nearest Thames Water manhole cover. The fountain will then be set out and rebuilt in reversed order to the dismantling. Once the basin section has been re-carved and is set into the base stone, the taps will be connected and pressure tested before the remainder of the fountain is re-built. The new tap will be push button operated and fitted into the original stonework. The drainage will be connected to the new bowl section. All joints will be repointed in a suitable, colour matching lime mortar. The new neck and finial sections will be fixed using heavy duty stainless-steel dowels at 25mm diameter, bedded on lime mortar.

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