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Temperance Fountain

Restoration of the fountain

This fountain is the second on the site. The original was made of Doulton ware but was damaged by lightning in 1897. This replacement Portland Stone fountain was installed in 1900 opposite the public library and near the parish church, funded by the St Mary Abbots Church of England Temperance Society. It was in the classical style with angle consoles, niches and decorated with shells and cherub heads. A cross was placed on top and an inscription once read: ‘Erected by the St Mary Abbotts Kensington Branch of the Church of England Temperance Society.’

The Temperance movement was a campaign to encourage the reduction of alcohol consumption, which was believed to lead to social issues such as poverty, child neglect, immorality and economic decline. Temperance societies began to be formed in the 1830s to campaign against alcohol. Although the Temperance movement met with local success in parts of Britain, it failed to impose national prohibition, and disappeared as a significant force following the Second World War.

The fountain is structurally sound and in overall reasonable condition with age related surface erosion throughout. There is light carbon and organic staining all over and the finial at the top is broken. The taps are missing on both sides and the areas where the taps are missing have been filled with cement mortar; likewise the access hatch. Both basins are lead lined and in fair condition but the drainage is blocked with stagnant water and there is debris in both basins and at the base. The inscription has eroded to the point of being illegible (and is only known from a contemporary illustration).

The restoration involved cleaning and poulticing to remove carbon staining. The fountain has been dismantled, old plumbing removed and new waste and water pipes inserted. A newly carved cross to the original design has been reinserted on the top and the original inscription re-inscribed around the front panel. Thames Water will be bringing a water connection to the fountain in spring 2024. The restoration was funded by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Heritage of London Trust with the support of Knight Frank.

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