The water supply in Newcastle was insufficient for the population and the quality of the drinking water was poor. In addition to standpipes water was brought into Newcastle from about a mile up stream water was also brought from the town moor and a spring in Gateshead. Water from the springs was found to be polluted possible with seepage from the sewers and even rain water that was collected in barrels or tanks was polluted by the soot and impurities that the smoke fires and the manufactories of Newcastle water even when filtered several times had a red stain and a disagreeable smell.
For the convenience of the poorer classes, the corporation had provided a number of public fountains or stand pipes of which there were about 18 or 20 in different parts of the town one in Gallowgate, Percy street, Darwer-crook, High Friar street, Newgate Street, Big Market, High Bridge, Head of the Side, Westgate Street (called the Vicars pump), foot of Pilgrim Street, Manor street, Sandgate West and East, St. Ann's row, East BallastHills, St. Lawrence, New Green Market (for the use of the markets) Leazes near the Crescent, and one was being prepared in the Close.
The cost of water laid on by the Joint Stock Water Company was 18s. to 30s. for private houses. Manufactures pay 3d. to 4d. for every 224 gallons. The poor pay one farthing for a tub or large pail full, which is four or five times more than the richer inhabitants of the town who can afford to have the water conveyed to their houses. The cost of water for the poorer classes is due to the fact that the water company has to pay for an attendant to at each standpipe where the poor are supplied.
1887 directory entry for the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Company Office, Worswick Street,- B. Plummer, Chair, G. Smith Secretary, J.R. Forster, resident engineer
This Fountain was presented to the City of Newcastle by Miss Caroline Sophia Russell Colvill in loving rememberance of her brother the late Edwin Dodd Colvill who was for upwa## -(letters missing)-years well an honourably known in Newcastle, Mayor # D #tephens esq. #888 "In as much as ye did it unto one of the least of these my bretheren ETC."
Fountain, Erected by public subscription marks the public life of W.D.Stephens, Alderman and J.P city of Newcastle Sheriff 1879-80 Mayor 1887-88