Ready Money Fountain


1869, Sicilian marble mixed with Aberdeen granite, by Robert Kierle and executed by Henry Ross

In 1869 Mr Cowasjee Jehangir, (1812-78) whose nickname was Ready Money (hence the name of the fountain), was a wealthy Parsee of Bombay. He presented this fountain as thanks for the protection offered to him and his fellow countrymen under British rule in India. He was much respected in India as a philanthropist, funding colleges, hospitals, asylums for the homeless and owned several housing estates so he was known as the ‘Peabody of Bombay’. There are reliefs of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and the donor as well as a lion and Brahmin bull. All the great and the good were there for the unveiling in the presence of the Prince and Princess of Teck (parents of Queen Mary, wife of King George V), and the Nawab of Bengal.

This is one of the many fountains commissioned by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Association which was founded in 1859 by Samuel Gurney to provide much needed fresh water for visitors in parks around the country. Robert Kierle was its architect. The first fountain was opened on 21 April 1859 at Snow Hill in the City of London. By 1878 there were more than 700 fountains. Fresh drinking water was a huge issue, particularly in London, where cholera had taken its toll. Every year the Association would report on its financial position, listing the donors. It is interesting to note that £100 was donated yearly by the monarch and £105 by the City of London. Today the Drinking Fountain Association still exists and its objectives are very similar: To promote the provision of drinking water to people and animals in the United Kingdom and overseas, and the preservation of the Association’s archive materials, artefacts, drinking fountains, cattle troughs and other installations. The restoration of this fountain was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund but is no longer working, although there is a modern drinking fountain nearby.

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