The Driver Fountain at the Luton Arches, Chatham

A now vanished landmark familiar to generations of Medway residents, not to mention the many thousands who passed it while making their way to the Kent coast in pre-motorway days, was the Driver Fountain.

This was situated in the middle of the major road junction at the Luton railway arches. When it was opened, a grass enclosure and a row of poplars were planted behind it. The Luton Arches themselves towered above the scene.

The Driver Fountain, intended for both people and horses, was paid for by the then Mayor of Chatham, Councillor William Dawes Driver (see note at foot of page), and donated by him to the Borough Council in 1899. Driver dedicated the fountain to his father, a former councillor who had died the previous year.

The Fountain was designed by Charles Day, the Borough Surveyor, and made by an Aberdeen firm. It was constructed of Peterhead red and Aberdeen blue granite on a red granite base. On three sides were drinking basins complete with galvanised copper cups. On its fourth side was an inscription:

In Memory of


Died 30th April 1898

Erected by his son

Councillor W D Driver

Mayor 1899

A horse trough was positioned underneath this inscription.

Large crowds converged at the Luton Arches to witness the unveiling ceremony on 4th October 1899. Speeches were given, prayers said, and then Sir Horatio Davis, the Member of Parliament for Chatham, pulled a string. The cloth fell to reveal the handsome drinking fountain.

Davis and Driver then each drank a cup of water from the new facility. Alderman Charles Skinner, the Chair of the Highway and Works Committee then formally accepted Councillor Driver’s gift on behalf of the Council.

Councillor Driver went on to take Holy Orders, becoming the Vicar of Chatham All Saints and then Gillingham.

The Driver Fountain was eventually removed after it had become both redundant and a traffic hazard. It now languishes, minus its horse
trough but still very impressive, in a quiet corner of Chatham Cemetery.

Note: William Dawes Driver was Mayor of Chatham 1898-9, 1903-4, 1904-5