WORK has begun on the restoration of a historic drinking fountain in Wimbledon.

The Joseph Toynbee fountain, first erected in 1868, is near the junction of Wimbledon Hill Road and High Street, but it has not been in use for decades.

It is a tribute to Joseph Toynbee (1815 – 1866) who was a pioneering Victorian ear surgeon who is said to have dissected more than 2,000 human ears.

He became one of the first fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons and moved to Wimbledon in 1854.

Heritage of London Trust has given a grant of £10,000 towards the restoration work, with the rest of the funding coming from Merton Councils Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

Children from Ursuline High School visited the site on Thursday to watch the stonemasons start their work on the historic piece.

The children had been learning about Joseph Toynbee and so attended site as part of the Heritage of London Trust’s Proud Places programme.

Wimbledon Times: Ursuline High School visiting the fountain at an earlier dateUrsuline High School visiting the fountain at an earlier date

The fountain, which is made of Portland stone, will be given new taps, piping and the stonework will be cleaned and repaired.

It will have a new concrete foundation to stabilise it.

The fountain should be up and running later this summer for the public.

There are more than 100 listed drinking fountains in the Greater London area, but the vast majority are not working and have been left to decay.

Dr Nicola Stacey, director at Heritage of London Trust, said: “We’re so glad that this fountain is being restored – both for local people and the many Wimbledon visitors every year.

“Joseph Toynbee was a pioneering Victorian surgeon and a philanthropist who made an important contribution to the lives and people of Wimbledon.

“The fountain will have a wonderfully positive impact on the surrounding community once it’s up and running again.”

Councillor Eleanor Stringer, deputy leader and cabinet member for civic pride, said: “We are delighted to deliver the restoration of the Joseph Toynbee fountain back to its original function.

“Residents are rightly proud of our borough’s rich heritage, which is embedded in all parts of Merton, from east to west.

“By allocating CIL funds to this restoration, we’re using money generated from new developments to improve the public realm, and keep our treasured heritage alive.”