John Passmore Edwards
Person Born 24/3/1823 Died 22/4/1911
Political and social reformer, politician, peace activist, and anti-slavery campaigner he became one of the most successful newspaper proprietors of his time. Born in a small Cornish village and educated at the local dame school, he had an ambition “to be useful”; an ambition that remained with him throughout his life. Early attempts at publishing led to bankruptcy but through hard work he repaid his creditors in full. Disillusioned by Parliament (representing Salisbury 1880-1885) he redistributed the wealth that he had earned by funding the building of more than 70 public buildings; libraries, hospitals, convalescent homes, schools, art galleries and museums; to help those he considered he had a responsibility to assist. He twice turned down a Knighthood and died at home, 51 Netherhall Gardens.
Passmore Edwards is a valuable resource.
A few footprints quotes Edwards' autobiography, of the same name, published in 1906 : "To place drinking-water within reach of many of the poorest, I have, in co-operation with the Metropolitan Drinking Fountains Association and the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association, placed drinking-fountains in Victoria Park; Stalbridge Common, Hackney; The Broadway, Hammersmith; Edgware Road, Kilburn; the Public Gardens, Woolwich; Duncan Terrace, Islington; Christchurch, Blackfriars; Hoxton Square; Leyton Square, Camberwell; Rotherhithe Street, Bermondsey; and Hackney Road Ground, Shoreditch In constructing these fountains the dog, that faithful friend of man, and destined so often to be cut up alive to satisfy deplorable vivisectionist curiosity, has not been forgotten." That's 11 drinking fountains, of which we've found 2. We'll keep looking. Can you give us the exact location of any of the 9, or confirm that they are no longer there?
Rotherhithe Street - we believe this was in Pearson Park so our colleague Alan Patient went searching and reports it lost.
Hammersmith Broadway - Andrew Behan tells us that this fountain no longer exists. Richard Passmore Edwards Memorial Fountain shows that it was unveiled in 1895, removed in 1910 and re-erected at Ravenscourt Park directly in front of the Ravenscourt Library in 1912. The library was damaged by bombs in 1941 and demolished. It is assumed the fountain went the same way.
Albion Square, Haggerston - Diane Burstein told us there's a JPE fountain there, and indeed there is - we've now published it. But note, this fountain was erected in 1910, after the autobiography was published and so is additional to the 11 listed there.
So that's a total of 12 fountains; 3 still standing; 2 lost; 7 still need tracking down.
Spitalfields Life has a magnificent article on Passmore Edwards’ East End Libraries.