When Spring Water was on Tap

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It seemed to us kids growing up between the wars in Wolverhampton that every park, public square  or open place in and around town had its horse trough or drinking fountain.

Though by the late thirties, the Corporation had stopped building troughs, as the automobile was gradually replacing the horse but more drinking fountains were provided in schools and parks with the old pewter cups replaced by jets of water as these were seen as more hygienic.

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Charles Benjamin Manders fountain 1861.

Over the years several ornamental fountains were provided by Wolverhamptons private munificence. Amongst these was this one I remember well on the corner of the Retail Market, North Street donated by Charles Benjamin Mander in 1861.

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The little park at Newbridge circa 1940.

The junction with Newhampton Road, fronted by the three retired pensioners on the bench was another little oasis for a thirsty child in the years between the wars. This small piece of greenery on the Tettenhall Road has a special significance for my dear friend Richard Rhodes, to which this post is dedicated.

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Robert Rhodes with his family at Wrottersley Park early 1900s.

Richards Grandfather, Robert Rhodes, was the secretary of the Wolverhampton Automobile Club at the dawn of the motor vehicle, and he acquired the first ever number plate issued in Wolverhampton in 1903 – DA1. Here is Robert in his Ariel Tonneau outside Wrottersley Park with his family aboard. He died in 1936.

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A group of Wolverhampton’s great and good at Newbridge 1927.

In 1927 looking as proud as punch, a group of Wolverhampton dignatories gather in the small park at Newbridge, to celebrate the presentation of a drinking fountain.

The cast iron structure, which had been engraved in stunning detail, was donated by Wolverhampton Solicitor Robert Rhodes, who is fourth from the left in the picture. On the day it was handed over many of the city’s leading lights gathered for the ceremony.

You can gather from the line up how important the day was. Beside Mr Rhodes; the tall gent fifth from the left is Frank Myatt, who was the owner of the Grand Theatre and also the Victoria Hotel next door. Mr Myatt was born in Wolverhampton in 1876, and founded a brewery at one time in Peel Street, it later became Holt Breweries and Mr Myatt was director. In 1934 he purchased Bridgnorths Cliff Railway.  He entered Wolverhampton Council in 1908 as a conservative and had a prominent role in public life for 30 years, he was mayor from 1917-18.

The mayor of the day standing in the middle is Frederick Willcock, who owned a chemists shop in Victoria Street opposite the Star & Garter. The gentleman with the rolled up newspaper was Thomas Dickenson who lived at Palmers Cross Farm in Tettenhall. Next to him is R.D. Lewis who lived in Tettenhall Court, opposite Danescourt Cemetery, Wergs Road .

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Mother and child at the fountain circa 1930.

A curious child checks out the fountain  in the 1930s. It should have stood in the park for decades, but today all that remains is the concrete base and metal stand after a dead tree blew over and demolished it during the Second World War.

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