Restoration of Wimbledon fountain celebrates Joseph Toynbee

From left: Councillor Eleanor Stringer, Dr Nicola Stacey of the Heritage of London Trust, and Polly Toynbee, great-great-granddaughter of Joseph Toynbee

Dozens of residents, including students from Ursuline High School, turned out on Monday 6 March for the opening of a restored water fountain in Wimbledon Village that honours a great local figure from the 19th Century.

The gothic structure, which stands at the top of Wimbledon Hill Road, was erected in 1868 in memory of Joseph Toynbee, a pioneering ear surgeon who treated Queen Victoria and who fought to keep Wimbledon Common open to the public.

In a ceremony attended by two of Toynbee’s great-great grandchildren, including Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee, the newly functioning fountain was unveiled by Dr Nicola Stacey, director of Heritage of London Trust.

The trust contributed £10,000 towards the restoration, while Merton provided £12,000 towards the restoration and new water supply.

This is in addition to the public realm enhancements on Wimbledon Hill Road including new seating, cutting back vegetation, a new trees and improving the pavement around the fountain.

An interpretation panel and further planting will be added over the next few months.

Students from Ursuline High School helped to cut the ribbon

Students from Ursuline High had been involved with the project from its inception, visiting the stonemason who worked on the fountain during the project and two pupils helped Ms Toynbee cut the ribbon to open it.

The working fountain will mean that residents and visitors to Wimbledon Village will be able to fill up their water bottles without having to buy new ones, and so will help to fight against plastic pollution.

Councillor Eleanor Stringer, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Civic Pride, said: “Wimbledon is my home town and I have walked past this fountain hundreds of times without realising its significance.

“It’s brilliant that it has been restored to working use, both to honour this prestigious former Wimbledon resident and to help us achieve our environmental ambitions.

“It’s on a walking route for many coming up from the town to the village and common so should be well used.”