It might be hard for us to think that public access to clean drinking water wasn’t available to the masses until the middle of the 19th century. That was when The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association was established in London, and they did something that nobody had done before. They opened the First Public Drinking Fountain in the world, and you can still visit it today.
But why the first public drinking fountain is so important?
In 1854, London was hit with a cholera outburst that became known as The Broad Street Cholera Outbreak. After that, a movement started growing for regulations and public access to water. This led the British government to buy out all the private water companies that existed. The first public baths came to exist in Liverpool, and drinking fountains came along.
That fountain became an instant hit, and it was used for 7,000 people, every day. The demand for clean water was so high that Samuel Gurney paid for 85 new fountains in the next six years.
If you want to do like I did and visit the first public drinking fountain, you have to find your way to the Holborn Viaduct and follow the map above to the St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate Church. There, on the corner of Giltspur Street, you will find what you are looking for.
The First Public Drinking Fountain in London
The First Public Drinking Fountain at St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate Church
Snow Hill, London EC1A 2DH, UK
The engraved image here came from the Illustrated London News from 1859, and we found it on drinkingfountains.org. All the pictures here were edited on an iPhone so we could try it out and see how would they look like.