Wa­ter flows no more but his­tory runs deep

A his­toric drink­ing foun­tain in Hythe’s Red Lion Square is to re­ceive a dra­matic over­haul. looks back at its life in the town, with the help of lo­cal his­to­rian Jenny Round Denise Rayner

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - REMEMBER WHEN? -

HUN­DREDS of peo­ple walk past Hythe’s old drink­ing foun­tain ev­ery day, per­haps even chuck­ing in some rub­bish, with lit­tle re­gard to how it got there.

The Vic­to­rian foun­tain in Red Lion Square, which no longer sup­plies wa­ter, is a dull brown colour and of­ten lit­tered with rub­bish, but very few peo­ple know the his­tory be­hind the elab­o­rate struc­ture.

Thomas Judge was elected Mayor of Hythe in 1885. A re­spected busi­ness­man, he had a watch­mak­ers and sil­ver­smiths shop in the High Street, in the premises that later be­came New­man’s furniture store.

He de­cided to com­mem­o­rate his may­oralty by cre­at­ing a much­needed drink­ing foun­tain for the town and a site was of­fered at the side of a house next to the Town Hall, be­long­ing to Al­der­man Dr Charles Fagge.

The 6ft bronze fea­ture was marked with the words: “He opened the rock and the wa­ters gushed out; they ran out in dry places like a river.”

The foun­tain was un­veiled by Lady Watkin, wife of the town’s MP Sir Ed­ward Watkin, on May 12, 1886. That same day Sir Ed­ward, who had rep­re­sented the peo­ple of Hythe since 1874, was hon­oured for his work and made a Free­man of the Bor­ough.

When un­veil­ing the foun­tain Lady Watkin took a drink of wa­ter from the iron cup and thanked Thomas Judge for the gen­er­ous ges­ture.

Just two weeks later the mayor fell ill. While on his way to hol­i­day in Paris he was forced to turn back at Boulogne be­cause of his wors­en­ing con­di­tion.

Thomas Judge died on July 6, 1886 at the age of 38. The cause of death was recorded as an aneurism of the heart.

Blinds were drawn in private homes and flags were flown at half mast to mark his death and the drink­ing foun­tain be­came a me­mo­rial to him.

Fol­low­ing his death a de­bate sur­faced sur­round­ing the own­er­ship of the foun­tain. Dr Fagge in­sisted the land be­longed to him, how­ever some coun­cil­lors said it had been given to the town. No de­ci­sion was reached and Dr Fagge re­signed from the coun­cil in Novem­ber and died the fol­low­ing March aged 85.

Pulled down

His house, with the foun­tain in­tact, was sold in Septem­ber 1888. It was taken over by the Lon­don and County Bank and the drink­ing foun­tain re­mained in place for 24 years.

How­ever, in 1911 the man­ager of the Lon­don County and West­min­ster Bank, as it had be­come, asked Hythe Town Coun­cil to re­move it be­cause the house was to be pulled down and an­other bank built in its place; the NatWest is still there to­day.

The foun­tain was re­lo­cated in July 1913 to the wall sur­round­ing Mack­e­son’s Brew­ery in Mar­ket Square, now Red Lion Square, and it con­tin­ued to sat­isfy the thirst of the town’s peo­ple for a fur­ther 60 years.

The wa­ter was tested an­nu­ally and the iron cup was re­moved in 1965 for hy­giene rea­sons.

The brew­ery was bull­dozed in 1973 and it was hotly de­bated what should re­place it be­fore fi­nally, in 1980, ap­pli­ca­tions for blocks of flats were ap­proved.

The foun­tain still stands in the re­main­ing wall of the brew­ery and will now be the sub­ject a new look. Hythe artist David Hawthorn ap­proached the Town Coun­cil to sug­gest the makeover. Coun­cil­lors have agreed to pay for the paint and Mr Hawthorn will re­vamp the foun­tain for free.

Thomas Judge’s for­mer shop taken in 1992

The in­scrip­tion on the foun­tain

By per­mis­sion of John Rayner

The drink­ing foun­tain can be seen be­low the over­hang­ing tree, next to the Town Hall

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Denise Maskell, Mayor of Hythe Cllr Neil Matthews, Dick Bushell and David Hawthorn with dog Pickles

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