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Stoke Newington Common Drinking Fountain

ImageIf you get thirsty when you are at Stoke Newington Common there is good news and bad news.  The good news is that there is a drinking fountain.  But the bad news is that it doesn't work. TimeLine history detectives uncovered a story of Hackney citizenship.

More than  eighty years ago, in 1928, a teacher called Florence du Vergier became a Hackney Councillor.  She did such a good job as Councillor that in 1943, during the Second World War, Florence did something very special.  She became the very first woman to become the Mayor of Hackney.   

Altogether Florence was a Councillor for twenty-five years and she made a big difference to the lives of loads of people in Hackney.  She started the youth club on the Kingsmead Estate, and worked with lots of different older people's groups.   After Florence died, the Borough Council wanted to do something so that people would remember Florence forever.  

The Council decided to make a drinking fountain in her memory: it was 1960, and in those days people did not buy loads of bottled water, so a drinking fountain was a really nice thing to have nearby.  They made a plaque to go on it that said: 

"This corner of Stoke Newington Common has been laid out to commemorate the services rendered to the borough of Hackney, particularly in the spheres of housing and public health by Mrs. Florence du Vergier J.P., Alderman and Councillor of the Borough from 1928-1953 and Mayor 1943-4."

ImageThey made sure the corner of the common was a nice place to sit, with benches and lots of plants as well as the fountain.  And just after Easter in 1960 the big day came to declare the drinking fountain officially open for business.   Maurice Blitz, the new Mayor of Hackney, came to make a speech and tell everyone what a fantastic person Florence had been, and a man from the Parks Committee of the London County Council promised they would look after Florence's fountain.  

And of course they needed to choose the first people to have a drink from the new fountain: three year-old Tony Paul and his big sister Annette from Garnham Street were chosen to be the very first to have a drink.  Over the years thousands of people must have had a drink thanks to Florence, but nobody has been looking after the fountain: it got broken and now it is a real mess.

We are wondering whatever happened to Tony and Annette.  If anyone knows, please contact us.  And if anyone remembers Florence we would love to hear more about her.   And .... whilst we were checking this out we found out that there is somewhere nearby that is named after Maurice:  Maurice Blitz Court in Rectory Road, not far from Stoke Newington Common.

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