A few years ago a very heavy load was removed from the Old Hall front garden and placed in the car park at the Village Hall. Perhaps you have not noticed it but when this Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough was ‘opened’ in late summer in 1909, the event brought crowds. There was a parade of horses down Markfield Road to join the many people gathered on the ground in front of the Chaplins, the butchers, that is. Everyone wore their best clothes, the women’s hats were remarkable.
The words on the front were and still are “Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association, 70 Victoria St, S.W”.
Groby Heritage Group has several copies of photographs of the momentous occasion. They had been postcards which could be sent to friends and relatives. We contacted Wigston Record Office to find out more and in an old book was found an address for ‘The Drinking Fountain Association’ in Chislehurst, Kent. Following our letter requesting information about the Association and enclosing copies of our photos, we were intrigued to be told that the Association was still providing drinking fountains in this country and overseas. An article in the Punch magazine at the time of the Great Exhibition in 1851 highlighting the filthy state of London water, caused Samuel Gurney M.P. to set up the Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association in 1859.
Prince Albert and the Archbishop of Canterbury had a deep interest in the objects of the Association. The first fountain was unveiled on 21 April 1859 at St Sepulchre’s Church, Snow Hill. Within 11 years 140 fountains and 153 cattle troughs were in place. Since its inception 4,000 drinking fountains, nearly 1,000 cattle troughs and 40 water wells overseas have been provided.
We hope you will now have more respect for our trough. We would like to see the words restored so that they can easily be read. We know of a similar trough in Llangollen, Wales. Have you noticed one on your travels? Please let us know.