From the memories of Peter Juggins in the year 2001
Most cottages either had a pump or well of its own, or shared a supply with several of its neighbours. All of the dwellings in Ballinger’s Row drew their drinking water by means of a pump situated in an alcove built into the cottage at the southernmost end. They would all have had a written agreement in their deeds as to the ownership of the well, who had the right to draw water and also if they all had to share the upkeep of the well and the pump. This pump is still there.
Another pump still in its original position is on the west front of Armstrong Cottage. I think that the cottage next door had the right to draw water from there also, but Ken Minshall may know that from his deeds.
Hill Farm had a pump and well in the house. However the cattle were taken to drink from the trough by the side of the road in the hill. There is a very good spring here which also supplied Laurel Cottage. The owner of which (Robert Lawrence) claimed the water rights and ran a pipe down his garden path to Adams Pool, Day’s Bakery and their cottages, also the two cottages, now only one, known as Sunnyside.
I am not sure about Buttress House, but I think Diana Coates used to get her drinking water from the Queen Street trough when she lived there.
In Queen Street there was a good supply of water that came from the same spring that supplied the Holywell. This was one of the best springs in that area, even when the spring supplying the trough by the church dried up during a drought people were able to carry some water for drinking from Holywell. There were two recesses built into the wall half way up the street by the brook. In the one was a stone trough with a pipe running continuously and in the other a tap for drinking water. There were two planks or stepping boards across the brook to reach these. All of the cottages up to Bodkin Cottage used this supply except what is now Willow Cottage which had a dip tank along the garden also a stand pipe by the wall that must have been “Teed” into the same supply pipe. Bodkin Cottage, Ivy Cottage, Corner Cottage and Ford’s Cottage carried their drinking water from a small stone trough a little way up Gallows Lane, which is still there. Most people used water from the brook for washing etc.
Holywell Cottage, which overlooked Courts Close had a very good water supply which over many years not only supplied the well in the garden but was used to supply the Council houses and most of Queen Street. It always kept going when others could run out during a drought. There were many springs along that bank between Holywell and the Manor. One very good spring surfaced in the front of Pike Cottage and supplied what were once three cottages including Long Cottage, before running down the side of Gallows Lane and into the Queen Street brook.
I am not sure how the water supply was managed at The Old Forge but there used to be a stone trough in the bank on the roadside on the right of the gate into the Old School.
There was a strong spring at the end of the railway tunnel that supplied the limekiln at Fossecross by means of a hydraulic ram and a two inch iron pipe running along the rail track. There was also a ram that pumped water to Harts Hill cottages, but I am not sure if it was the same one, or if they were fed from the ram at the top of Tunway on the Downs.
The water trough on the left of the church gate was most important because it supplied the whole of the Church Row cottages and also ran through under the wall to the old farm buildings that were situated in what is now the Manor vegetable garden. The cobbles allowed water carts to be filled and when flooded the wheels of the carts were soaked in dry weather to swell the wood. All the water from the Manor and Church springs of course always found their way down to the Seven Tuns waterfall and dip, but not always by the same route. Underneath Queen Street we are told there are many feet of tufa, soft lime deposit which builds up very quickly and blocks up the pipes and water ways. In about 1935/6 the Council decided to move a pile of ashes that had built up over the years on the triangular green opposite the Tuns, where people had thrown them out, there being no refuse collection in those days. Harry Allington who had lived in the small cottage on the left all his life told everyone that in the bottom of the pile they would find a stone trough where they used to get their water when he was a boy. Of course no one believed him. However four feet from the surface they found Harry’s trough complete with a drain to take the water away. This proves that the stream has probably changed course more than once over the years. When Earl Eldon did away with the tithe barn and built new farm buildings above the church, he had the pond, or pound to supply the old water wheel, which in turn pumped water to a tank on the Downs (airfield). There were also springs on the edge of the Downs at the north east end with troughs and a hydraulic ram. The water wheel soon became a victim of the tufa and was replaced with a hydraulic ram and when that failed was replaced with a Lister petrol stationary engine. This must have been time consuming and inefficient, but soon the electricity came to the village and an electric pump was installed. The water from the waterfall used to run two ways, half did run underground to come out opposite Corner Cottage and the rest went under the Tuns, (keeping the beer cool) down the back of Queen Street cottages, under the railway embankment and came out in the garden of Laburnum Cottage.
There was a pump in the scullery at the old Vicarage, but I think the house had a tank in the roof space to store water.
One of the deepest wells in the village was at The Paddocks. It was situated in the corner outside and to the right of the barn doors. It had a windlass and chain and well bucket and was walled up with stone.
Glebe Cottage had its own well with a pump indoors and so did the Wagon and Horses. Also there was a well on the north side of Glover Cottage.
Coombe Cottage, Kaycot and The Grays shared a well situated in front of The Grays, which had a windlass and was walled up. This well is still there and covered over.
Old Prices had a well with windlass to the southwest of the house. This was also quite a deep well.
Whitegates had a well in front of the house near the porch on the south side. It was built up with red bricks and it had a pump indoors.
Cromwell House had a well in the cart house, which stood just inside the double gates on Cheap Street. It was quite a shallow well, only about ten feet deep. It also had a windlass and well bucket.
Green Close had a pump in the small lean to, which was next to Victor Day’s bake house. I don’t remember if the cottage next door had a pump, but I do recall seeing John Kilby carrying water from down the road at Adelaide, but that could have been due to a time of drought.
Adelaide had a well, which was accessible through a door in the boundary wall on the roadside. In a hollow in the same place were two stone troughs with spring water passing through them which then passed under the road and the railway to come out in the field by Horseshoe Cottage. These troughs could have been the supply for the cottages that were destroyed when the railway was built.
The Old Bakery and shop had a well and pump in the lean to scullery at the back of the house. A semi rotary pump pumped water from this same supply to a tank above the bake house.
Windsor Cottage had a well and pump just inside the present gateway to the left. There was also a pump inside the wash house, piped from the same well.
Box Tree Cottage had its own well and pump about two or three yards to the north from the front door.
Melrose had a well and an iron pump situated at the east end of the house about four feet from the building. It had a stone trough like so many others did, but this one is special to me because I now have it in my garden.
The two cottages that were The Laurels (now Laureston) shared a pump in the centre of the building on the south side. The well was about 20 feet below the cellar floor and a lead pipe came up through the wall to the pump. The well was built up with stone walling and was paved over at the cellar floor level.
Horseshoe Cottage had a well that was not sustainable just after the second war, so the owner had someone to dig it deeper. They found the same problem that others had suffered in the past. By digging deeper than the clay beds they lost the drop of water they already had.
Ansty’s Cottage had a well close to the house on the south side. Just after the war the owners put a septic tank too near to it and contaminated the water.
Hawks Lane House had a very deep well and Charles Trotman had a special pump installed known as a Jet pump, because the ordinary one wouldn’t lift much water. I think it worked similarly to the hydraulic ram, by using some of the weight of water to lift the rest, thereby losing a small amount each time. I am not sure where this pump was situated.
The Old Farm. I don’t know.
Brookside inhabitants had to carry their water from a stone trough a little way along the road on the left. After the electricity came to the village the then owners ran a pipe from the trough to the roof space and pumped water up to a tank by using a trip switch.
The Wool Pack used to be two dwellings and their well and pump stood just in front of the cottage on the right hand corner, about two yards out.
Heskins Cottage I seem to remember had an iron pump on the south side of the house. I am not sure if both cottages shared this supply, but there was a door between the two, years ago that would suggest a right of way to get water.
I don’t remember anything about either The Orchards or Clifden House. There is a strong spring that comes out of the bank into a trough opposite Clifden House that may have been pumped to either or both properties but I am not sure.
When Ashcombe Edge was built in 1938 a borehole was sunk about 50 feet we were told, but they only found a small supply of water which in turn was difficult to pump up that distance. The depth of the borehole needed to be deeper than the nearby railway cutting.
The School House had quite a deep well between the house and the road. There was a modern iron pump in a pump house that would pump water into a bucket or by turning a valve would enable it to be pumped into a storage tank in the house. We school boys often had the job of pumping up to the storage tank for a penny or tuppence.
Smuggs Barn had one of the deepest wells in the village, with a windlass, seventy foot chain and well bucket. Only the top 4 or 5 feet was walled up with dry stone walling, the rest just the natural rock face. The three cottages on this corner used this well and have water rights to this day written into their deeds. It used to take me 5 minutes to wind a bucket of water, but the bucket of water was only a small part of the weight as the chain and bucket when extended weighed more that the water. When lowering the bucket one had to be very careful not to let it go because the handle would spin round at such a terrific speed and would break ones arm if you tried to stop it. The chain would then come off the windlass and end up at the bottom of the well. We then would have to get the ‘well drag’ and a long rope and fish for it. This could take a long time on some occasions, as there was a piece of timber stuck across the bottom making it difficult to achieve. The well drag or grappling iron was a three pronged hook, which was often borrowed by others in the village for the same purpose. I still have it in the shed if you are unfortunate enough to get your well bucket stuck at the bottom of your well.
Pinkwell had a well 47 feet deep close to the front door, which had a pump and stood under the stone tiled canopy, which is no longer there. The well supplied all the needs at Pinkwell Farm, supplemented by the pond opposite. Later the troughs in the fields were supplied by a supply from Green Meadow, pumped to the reservoir on the Whiteway beyond the Laines. The name Pinkwell is thought to be linked to the colour of the water, which was more brown than pink and occurred after a very wet time. The well has been known to dry up in times of drought. The water supplied by the Green Meadow reservoir served many of the field troughs from the Laines, Pinkwell and Newbarn farms, as well as some of the first dwellings to be build on Fields Road. The Limekiln at Fossecross bought the water rights in the 30’s. However, when the pipes began to leak after the war many places were left with only an intermittent supply and the later bungalows along that road relied on rainwater tanks.
Well Hill has a good spring still running through the grounds of the Old Farm. On the side of the road at this point there used to be two or three large stone troughs to make use of the water both for domestic and farm use. The troughs were set in a sunken area below a wall with a small garden gate at the top end and an open end at the bottom for farm water carts to enter. Well Hill Cottages and the Old Police Station at one time used this supply.
The Rookery cottages had a pump on the north side and Rookery House had its own well but I am not sure where it was. The other cottage up the garden had its own well and pump on the east side about 3 or 4 yards from the house. Often in times of drought the people from the Rookery side came over the wall to get water if their supply was running out and there was a better one next door.
Old Well Cottage along the road with its well and windlass still in place was the supply for those three cottages.
The Croft had a well I seem to remember out in front of the house with a pump.
Rose Cottage also had a pump about three yards from the front door.
Bleakmoor Farmhouse. I am not sure.
Doveswell had a well in the garden with windlass and chain.
Ardmore, “High House” used to have a pump in the kitchen but the well could have been outside in the yard.
Jane’s Cottage had a very shallow well about a yard or two from the small outhouse at the southeast end. When Charlie Mabberly lived there in the 30’s and 40’s, he used a staff about 4 feet long with a hook on the end to dip the bucket in. The water was only about 3 or 4 feet from the surface.
There used to be a well and windlass in the garden of Alec Bliss’s cottage.
Daiment’s Cottage had a well and windlass out in the orchard, some ten or fifteen yards from the house. About fifteen yards to the south, my grandfather, Thomas Juggins dug a well about 30 feet deep and walled it up to get water for his cattle and pigs that he kept in the field on the right of the Hemplands. At the bottom of the Hemplands in the bank that has now been removed for road widening there was a well about 20 feet deep that was owned by and supplied water to York Cottage and I think the two adjoining ones – by pipe. Access to this well was through a door in the bank.
A Mr Fowles, who used to live at The Brew House and was a small holder, supplied water to several properties from a spring near the barn. They included the two bungalows at the top of Pancake Hill and the small cottage next to The Brew House.
The Old Manse had a well and pump half way down the garden close to the wall on the northwest side. It was about 30 feet deep.
The well at Sweetbriar Cottage had a windlass, chain and bucket and also supplied Box Tree Cottage next door.
In Pancake Hill, Amphlett House still has its well and pump in the front garden. Mary McNeil’s pump was on the south side of the cottage and the house next door had a pump only a couple of yards from the front door.
Keen’s Cottage had an iron pump out in the garden near the path about ten yards from the house and supplied both cottages.
A hydraulic ram at the bottom of Hedgley Grove pumped water to the farm buildings at Denfurlong. After the second world war, Cecil Finch had a large tank erected on a mound in the nearby quarry and the water supplied all the new council houses.
In some cases in the village rainwater was the only answer. Nearly all of the properties on Fields Road relied on rainwater after passing through a filter into an underground brick tank. Under what used to be Harry Day’s “Red shed”, next to Highlands, there was, and possibly still is a large tank to cater for the animals.
There is also a similar tank underground on the right side of “Cook’s Barn” near Highlands cross.