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Pub landlord’s mission to get Victorian water fountain turned back on

'I can picture people filling up their bottles here before they get on the Tube'

11 May, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

Jo Sherren from the Southampton Arms at the fountain near Kentish Town tube station

ONE is the owner of a celebrated Kentish Town pub, slaking the thirsts of ale lovers.

The other dedicated his life to warning of the evils of demon drink. But now they have forged an unlikely partnership – stretching across decades – to provide refreshment for all. Jo Sherren, co-owner of the Southampton Arms in Highgate Road, is mounting a campaign to have a historic drinking fountain close to Kentish Town underground station turned back on.

The fountain is dedicated to Joseph Payne, a judge and supporter of the temperance movement in the Victorian age.

“It is an original Victorian water fountain, and we should be exploring how we can have free drinking water on our streets again,” said Ms Sherren. “I can picture people filling up their bottles here before they get on the Tube.”

The granite fountain was installed in 1870 in memory of Payne, who lived in a cottage on Highgate West Hill and was a key member of the campaign to encourage people to stop drinking. His name is remembered on a plaque at an entrance to Regent’s Park near Albert Terrace, which reads “Deputy Assistant Judge, A Zealous Total Abstainer and a Faithful Friend of Bands Of Hope”.

Ms Sherren has approached the Mayor of London’s office for help, as Sadiq Khan is running a pilot scheme to get free water fountains working. One was recently installed close to Swiss Cottage Open Space.

She hopes to attract the interest of Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum.

Ms Sherren added: “If we could get this going, it could inspire other communities to do the same.”

The fountain has featured in the press before – the former St Pancras Chronicle ran a story about a workman who scraped off years of fly posters for gigs at the Town and Country Club nearby, now better known as the Forum.

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