High Barnet's magnificent pink marble drinking fountain, now in full working order, is once again the centre of attraction at the top end of the High Street, welcoming walkers, and visitors to the delights of Hadley Green.


At an official opening ceremony, organised by the Heritage of London Trust, there were tributes and rounds of applause for Peter Wanders, the High Street shoe shop proprietor, who was the inspiration behind the five-year campaign to get it restored and reconnected to the water supply.

Councillor Alison Moore, the Mayor of Barnet, who cut the ribbon to declare the fountain ready for use (27.4.2023), congratulated the foresight of the celebrated Barnet benefactor, Miss Ann Paget, who paid for its installation in 1885.

Miss Paget, together with her younger sister, Lucy, were renowned in the town for their support for philanthropic causes and Councillor Moore said the restoration of the fountain – abandoned for the last 50 years – was a fitting memorial to all they contributed to the community.

“The Paget sisters were philanthropists in an era when the Temperance Movement was not so popular.

“With the erection of the fountain, they ensured there was an alternative to beer in the town and that there was clean water available for everyone.”

Once the ribbon had been cut, Peter Wanders was the first to fill his re-usable water bottle and partake of the water – an event that he said he had dreamed about for so long but had never thought would arrive.

After five years campaigning to get the fountain back into use, he finally achieved a breakthrough and secured sufficient funds to dismantle and restore the fountain and return it to working order.

A grant of £15,000 from the Heritage of London Trust was backed up by over £5,000 raised through a crowd funded appeal with donations from local residents, community groups, and residents’ associations; a grant of £2,700 from Barnet Council; and a free reconnection to the mains from Affinity Water.

Dr Nicola Stacey, director of the trust, told the assembled crowd of well- wishers, that it had been an amazing experience working with Peter.

His dedication was an inspiration to all those campaigning for the restoration of Victorian drinking fountains and in promoting their environmental importance, not least in reducing the waste and pollution resulting from throw-away plastic water bottles.

Hadley Green’s water fountain is now the third re-opened for use this year and the trust has another nine that are under repair   -- but this is still only a fraction of the 100 or so fountains in and around London that could be brought back into use.

Restoring Hadley Green’s fountain had been especially exciting for the trust because it was in an amazing location, a landmark site on the boundary of Greater London and close to the routes of numerous countryside walks.

In welcoming the Mayor, Dr Stacey (far right) recalled the difficulty Miss Paget had faced in finding a site.

She made her first offer to Hadley Commoners, were but they declined and did not think a fountain should be erected on the common.

However, the Barnet Local Board were happy for it to be placed nearer the town, at the start of the green, so that it would be within reach of people attending Barnet Cattle Market, and within a year, children were filling the little brass cups that were originally beside each of the four taps.

During the restoration, pupils from the Pavilion School had visited the site to see the stonemasons at work. It had been a chance for them to understand what was involved in and get interest in the history of Barnet.

“We hope pupils from other schools will come along too and we want the next generation to recognise the importance of drinking fountains.

“It’s up to the children of Barnet to make sure it is properly looked after, and that the town recognises and guards sustainable resources such as this.”

Dr Stacey thanked Affinity Water for their support in reconnecting the fountain to the mains and again it was a case of history repeating itself.

One of the Affinity staff members involved in the restoration remembered that when he started work with the water board 50 years ago one of his first jobs had been to switch off the water supply to the fountain because it was no longer in use.

“So, you can see why story of Hadley Green’s fountain is such an inspiration to the trust. It is just fantastic to see it working again with people having a drink or filling up their water bottles.”

At the foot of the fountain is a small water trough for dogs and other pets. Simon Ellinas who watched the ceremony with Barley and Daisy was the first dog owner to step forward after the ceremony – and after a little encouragement Barley almost lapped up some water.

Early photographs in Barnet Museum illustrate the strategic site of the fountain – in 1910 it was seen standing proud and erect but in later years fell into dis-use and was almost lost among shrubs.

David Chapman, a committee member for Hadley Residents Association, who lives opposite the fountain welcomed its restoration.

“History really has been brought back to life. We used to walk past it and never noticed it was there – so it is a great tribute to Peter that the fountain has been restored and that the surrounding area is looking neat and tidy once again.”