Disturbing news from south London, where three historic animal troughs have been stolen.
You've probably seen these stone beasts lying around town. Dozens of the sturdy drinking troughs were installed in the 19th and early 20th centuries by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain & Cattle Trough Association. They provided water for horses and livestock, which were common on the streets.
Now, examples from Sydenham, Penge and Chislehurst have gone missing.
The Penge trough carried a dedication: ‘Be kind and merciful to all animals. In memory of David Benjamin, 1815-1893'. Like many troughs, it had been converted into a flower planter.
Christopher Costelloe, director of the Victorian Society, says, ‘Although often overlooked, these troughs situated around the country are a crucial link to our past – they serve as a reminder of a time when the city harboured more animals, with horses being crucial for transport in the Victorian era.’
Their removal erases three precious crumbs of local history.
The presumed thefts would have required some serious lifting equipment. Each is made of solid stone and must weigh the best part of a tonne. Why anyone would want to pilfer such a relic remains mysterious. They would hardly fetch a princely sum, and could easily be traced as stolen.
If you're not familiar with the drinking troughs, here's a 3-D model from artfletch.