The Poet And The Pump

Come the 19th century, the fame of the Aldgate Pump had spread far and wide.

The The Liverpool Daily Post wryly observed that:-

“More persons have heard of the Aldgate Pump than could find their way to Aldgate if they were put down in the City.”


By the 1840s, it was such a well known local landmark that businesses advertised their locations by their proximity to it – and “next door to the Aldgate Pump”, “opposite the Aldgate Pump”, or “near to the Aldgate Pump”, crop up over and over again in the newspaper small ads of the age.

A photograph of the Aldgate Pump.
The Aldgate Pump In The Early 20th Century.


However the prize for the most lyrical use of the Aldgate Pump must go to Moses And Sons, whose clothing emporium, was situated opposite the pump, and who published the following advertorial poem in The Shipping and Mercantile Gazette on Saturday 3rd February 1849 in order to advertise their wares:-


Where Aldgate pump suspends its iron bowl
A far-fam’d poet took his morning stroll,
And as he near’d the venerable pump,
Which long has brav’d the weather like a trump
A stranger’s voice in plaintive actions bid
The poet stop – and stop the poet did.

Then turning round to east, west, north and south,
He found the voice was from a watery mouth
Stay gentle laureate of the prince of trade,
And listen while my few remarks are made
I’ve often wondered why you never sing
Of ancient Aldgate’s celebrated spring;

You need not fear a theme like this to choose
I would not THROW COLD WATER on your muse.
You’ve sung of Aldgate Bells and Aldgate Church,
But leave the pump of Aldgate in the lurch.
You’ve sketch’d St Paul’s Cathedral and the Abbey
But as for me, your conduct, sir, is shabby.
For me you do not care dump
And here a tear-drop trickl’d from the pump.

Hush! (quoth the bard) my conduct I regret
And I at once shall liquidate the debt.
Yes, I am griev’d to see you in the dumps.
And thus would I recommend, O, pumps of pumps!
’Tis thine to rise in Aldgate’s noted part.
Where busy thousands flock to MOSES mart;
Yon know the increasing crowds who still admire
The mart of MOSES for its prime attire!
You know that what I say is strictly true.
Of dress coats, over coats, and frock coats too.
You know, as sure as you’ve an iron handle.
That competition here could hold a candle.