Older readers will remember the days when you could drink from a metal cup attached to the fountain. Then the fountain was disconnected from the mains and for decades has been a purely ornamental feature of the churchyard.
Now, thanks to a desire to cut down on the number of disposable plastic water bottles, drinking fountains are once more being installed in public places, and the Victorian fountains in St James's Churchyard and Southwark Park are the beneficiaries of this movement.
The St James fountain, which dates from 1886, is a memorial to Nathaniel Montefiore by his widow, Emma, who also paid for the churchyard to be laid out as a public park.
It says of Nathaniel that 'he sought to do the maximum of good with the minimum of notoriety.'
Now the drinking fountain given in his memory is once again in full operation, providing refreshment for thirsty passersby 133 years after it was first installed.
And it is helping the environment in the process.