Published: Friday, 15th July 2022
The grade-II listed Portland stone drinking-fountain and cattle trough, situated at top of Hyde Vale, has been restored by the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
The Council, one of the main funders on the project, celebrated the re-opening of Hyde Vale Fountain & Cattle Trough on Tuesday 12 July when Cllr Aidan Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Ward Councillor for Greenwich Park, was joined by representatives from the other joint grant funding organisations: Heritage of London Trust (HoLT), Historic England, Greenwich Society and Peter Harris Trust. Attendees made the most of filling up their water bottles in the sweltering heat.
Thanks to the works the Hyde Vale Fountain & Cattle Trough has also been removed from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.
Cllr Aidan Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “Fresh drinking water is now available again for passersby and heath users at the top of Hyde Vale from our beautiful fountain for the first time in decades. Now generations to come will be able to benefit from free and clean drinking water – the original mission of the Victorian philanthropists who first built it.”
Dr Nicola Stacey, Director of Heritage of London Trust, said: “When we first visited this fountain in 2016 it was in a sad state – not working, with worn and cracking stonework and a missing lantern. We got it onto the Heritage at Risk register and have been delighted to help bring it back to life, including the piping of fresh drinking water. From this summer onwards it will become a much-loved local landmark again.”
Emily Gee, Historic England’s Regional Director for London and the South East, said: “We’re grateful to the Heritage of London Trust for drawing our attention to the poor condition of this charming drinking fountain. We assessed it for the Heritage at Risk Register, helped to advise on its restoration, and awarded a repair grant through the Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund. It’s a wonderful result and we are delighted that it can once again fulfil its refreshing and restorative historic function for local people thanks to the efforts of the Council and partners.”
Dr Kevin Fewster CBE AM FRSA, Chairman of Greenwich Society, said: “The Greenwich Society is proud to have supported the elegant restoration and rejuvenation of the Hyde Vale drinking fountain. While Victorian in its origins, in many respects the fountain is a very modern piece of urban infrastructure providing free fresh water to anyone who happens to pass by.”
Work to restore the fountain involved stonework repairs, reinstating the lantern and taps, installation of new plumbing and of a new connection to the water supply; and the water is now flowing again. The lantern was also connected to the street lighting network. The work was carried out by specialist contractor London Stone Conservation and Thames Water. The Council also made improvements to the fountain’s setting and removed six traffic signs that were surrounding the monument.
Hyde Vale Fountain is now one of the few working historic drinking fountains in London. Heritage of London Trust has been leading a campaign to restore London’s historic fountains, with seven similar fountain projects across the city.
The Hyde Vale Fountain is not the only monument that has been saved from Historic England’s At Risk Register in the Borough of Greenwich: in 2020 The Royal Military Academy, Officers’ Quarters and Garrison Church of St George were removed, and in 2021 Enderby House in Greenwich, Royal Arsenal Building 41/41a and Royal Arsenal Conservation Area were removed.
In November, Historic England will publish its annual Heritage at Risk Register for 2022. The Register is the yearly health-check of England’s (including London’s) most valued historic places and those most at risk of being lost forever as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.