On a grand side street in Holborn can be found an equally grand-looking water pump.

In the 1740s, this short road was known as Jockeys Fields, which seems a bit odd considering the lack of fields in the area by then, but the name has stuck to a next-door street to this day. By 1800 it had changed name to Warwick Place, and then sometime in the 1960s was renamed as an extension of next door Bedford Row.

The pump, which dates to around 1840 has changed a bit as well. It used to be flush with the street level, whereas today it’s raised up on a small island. A square lamp on the top is now round, and more intriguing is that three old bollards now surround the water pump.

They state that they date from 1826, and someone casually visiting would not unreasonably assume they were placed here then. However, a photo from 1908 shows their total absence.

The three bollards must have been added soon afterwards though, as they were themselves listed in 1974. As the water pump is rather shiny and clean, it was recently restored with funding from Historic England.

It is also decorated with the arms of St Andrew and St George on the side, probably after St Andrew Holborn, the former parish that the water pump sits within.

As it is now, it’s one of those odd relics of times past that decorate our streets and make them so interesting to wander around.

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  1. Wole says:

    That’s the flag of St John the Baptist, not St George (which is a red cross on a white background). I wonder if it’s got anything to do with the priory church of St John, although that’s actually in Clerkenwell?

    • JP says:

      …and John and Andrew were the first two apostles to see Christ, introduced by Saint John the Evangelist. No less.

    • Andrew says:

      Perhaps it recognises the chapel of St John in Bedford Row?

  2. Steve says:

    This may be the only water pump in London which features in a detective story. In “The Magic Casket” by R Austin Freeman, published in 1927, a stolen pearl necklace is hidden inside the pump. (For the purposes of the story, the handle had been removed, leaving a convenient opening for putting a pearl necklace inside.)

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