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John Passmore Edwards

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Credit for this entry to:
Dean Evans

John Passmore Edwards

Person  Male  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, SE16, so our colleague Alan Patient went searching and reports it lost.

Hammersmith Broadway, W6 - 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, E8 - 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.

Update 2018:

Edgware Road Kilburn, NW6 – Images of London have a 1912 photo showing a fountain at St Pauls Kilburn Square. The image is small but the fountain seems to be of the basin type - not much favoured by Passmore Edwards elsewhere. It seems to be on the pavement opposite the church.

From Pinterest: "The top photo shows St Paul's Church on Kilburn Square which was rebuilt in the 1830s to replace a chapel that was founded in the 1820s. The church was demolished in the 1930s and the houses surrounding it were demolished in the 1960s to make way for the buildings shown in the bottom photo."

The modern buildings shown there are those on the west side of Kilburn High Road between Victoria Road and Brondesbury Road. We went and searched and could find no drinking fountain anywhere in the vicinity. Of course, we don’t know that the fountain shown in the 1912 image is a Passmore Edwards fountain. But it seems likely that this is another one we have to mark as lost.

That gives a total of 12 fountains; 3 still standing; 3 lost; 6 still need tracking down.

See other memorials in this area

This section lists the memorials where the subject on this page is commemorated:
John Passmore Edwards

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Show all 8

John Passmore Edwards - NW3

John Passmore Edwards, 1823 - 1911, journalist, editor and builder of free pu...

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Passmore Edwards drinking fountain - E8

{On the east face of the pier:} {In a monogram:} JPE This garden was laid ...

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Passmore Edwards drinking fountain - N1

We love the elaborately correct use of English: "... in the acquisition of wh...

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Passmore Edwards drinking fountain - SE1

The Christ Church fountain is one of several drinking fountains that Edwards ...

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Shepherd's Bush Library - foundation stone

This foundation stone was laid by the donor J. Passmore Edwards Esq on the 4t...

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This section lists the memorials created by the subject on this page:
John Passmore Edwards

Information Creations

Bow Library

{On the central plaque:} This stone was laid by J. Passmore Edwards Esq 19 Oc...

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