Social engineering: an exploration of how a bandstand and a street drinking fountain exemplify the intersection of ornate design and social reform in nineteenth-century London by Jocelyn Donachie
This article focuses on two seemingly disparate artefacts: a picture postcard sent in 1906 and a drinking fountain erected with much pomp and ceremony in 1859. The article sets out to show their connection with each other via a range of interwoven topics which throw light not just on the lives of the poor of nineteenth-century London but also on the mindset of those who governed and had concern for the city. Both artefacts interconnect with poverty, alcohol misuse, attitudes to class, shifting ideas of morality and social responsibility. Both intersect with ideals in design and philosophy. This article argues that they act as markers in changing attitudes towards the lives and behaviour of the poor and attempts to gauge how far they might be said to have been successful.