The Aldgate Pump, pictured here in 1880 surrounded by local worthies, still stands on this spot! The pump marks the official beginning of the 'East End.' It is found at the junction of Aldgate and Fenchurch/Leadenhall Streets. There is a report of a pump around here in the days of King John back in the twelve hundreds, streams were near by so it is likely, and this pump, dating from the late eighteenth century, was itself was re-erected on this spot in 1876 when London's growth led to the streets being widened. Pollution of the water occurred around this time when calcium leaked from the bones of the dead buried in new cemeteries to the north of the City and filtered into the stream which fed the pump. It is said several hundred people died because of this. However some years later Whittards, the tea people, claimed to always have kettles filled here so they could use the 'purest water.' It is important to know your local History! Mains water replaced the stream when the pollution was discovered. The spout is a small brass wolf's head seen on the front of the Portland stone pump, this represents the last wolf shot in London. This replaced the stone spout sometime before the Great War. I think there are still wolves in the City of London myself. There appears to be some dispute as to when the water was turned off as the pump is no longer in use.
Situated in the City of London, surrounded still by heavy traffic, the pump is ignored by the masses who pass by each day, London after all has vast numbers of historical artifacts in every direction. Few if any would know the story of the pump, many might not know who King John was, although they might listen if someone claims to have found his lost treasure, and I doubt many temporary locals care as they pass by these days. We live within our lives and immediate troubles don't we. At one time the real locals, who actually lived here unlike the million or so employed in the area today, depended on this pump. Like so many others throughout the nation a pump was the only water supply. Any fouling of the water therefore caused great suffering to many, and usually this meant the poorest and least able to help themselves. Many village pumps remain in this area, some well maintained and on public view, others found lurking in peoples gardens. Our purified water today comes through the tap, however fussy folks can buy a variety of bottled waters, I never see a jogger without the magic bottle for instance, it is almost a fashion item with some, and working pumps or water fountains are rarely seen today.