The Society makes grants both to individuals and to organisations in support of cultural and scientific activities which increase innovation, outreach and diversity in Leeds and its immediate area. It also supports local museums and galleries and publications relating to the city.

About the Society

The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, founded in 1819, is a charity that promotes interest in science, literature and the arts – in the city of Leeds and beyond. We have meetings, lectures, entertainments, publications and visits.

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The surprising history of Britain’s Victorian Drinking Fountains – Dr Kathryn Ferry

05 Sep 2024

The Leeds Library, 18 Commercial St, Leeds LS1 6AL



More about this event

Many of our parks and streets still feature Victorian drinking fountains but most are now dry and we walk past without recognising the crucial role these once played in our ancestors lives. In 1850 few people had access to clean drinking water. As industrialisation made towns and cities increasingly crowded this became a major public health problem. Disease spread through polluted rivers and working people turned to beer and gin to quench their thirst, exacerbating crime and destitution among the poor. This talk explores the origins of the Drinking Fountain Movement designed to change that, discussing the huge variety of fountain designs it spawned and some of the personal stories behind the people memorialised in these structures in Leeds and beyond.

Dr Kathryn Ferry is an architectural historian, author and speaker. After completing her PhD on architect Owen Jones, she worked for the Victorian Society in London campaigning for built heritage from the era 1837-1914. Her many publications focus on aspects of 19th and 20th century design, including Victorian homes, and the history of bungalows and beach huts. She is an expert on British seaside culture, regularly contributing to television and radio. For more information see  @SeasideFerry

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