Set in stone

Local historian Gary Boudier on how a Victorian landmark in Enfield has endured

Enfield Town fountain 1895
Enfield Town fountain 1895 (credit Enfield Local Studies Libraries & Archives)

Made from Aberdeen granite, the fountain in Enfield Town has been a permanent feature since 1885.

It stands where a great elm tree dominated the area for generations, before it was blown down during a gale in 1836. A public fund for the fountain started in the summer of 1884 but because of a shortage of money was delayed until March 1885, when it was opened without ceremony.

During 1884 the work to build the fountain was placed in the hands of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association, which had made its own contribution. When it finally opened in 1885, the fund was still £20 in arrears, and it is unclear as to where the final money came from. It’s known that the local Baptist Tabernacle church was selling photographs of the fountain for sixpence and ninepence each, possibly to help raise the missing money.

In 1895 the Enfield Gas Company installed four gas lamps for the fountain, which were hailed as a great improvement and featured in many photographs of the time. However, sometime over the ensuing years, the gas lamps were removed and a trio of electric lamps, protruding from above the cherubs, were installed instead.

It was reported in 1960 in the Enfield Gazette that the local council wanted to pull down the fountain, but this appears to have stirred up many a feeling against the idea – most residents viewed it as our own version of the fountain at Piccadilly Circus.

Again, in 1969, the idea of removing the fountain arose, with many residents venting their displeasure at the council. People were especially angry with Councillor Graham Eustance, who would later lead the council, after he wrote that the public would be channelled across the intended roadway through guardrails. This immediately caused a flood of letters to the Gazette,with residents saying they would be “herded like cattle”across the road.

Enfield Council wanted a one-way system introduced in the town and they deemed the fountain an outdated piece of ‘Victoriana’. The matter was put to the Enfield Preservation Society, asking them to suggest an alternate site. Thankfully, the situation was resolved, and the two cherubs atop the fountain are still clinging to each other while all around them carry on their daily deeds.

Find out more about the Enfield Town fountain by joining the Enfield Past and Present in Photos group on Facebook: