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Water Supply
Newsclips and extracts from Council Meetings

The Wellingborough News, 1st July, 1887, transcribed by Gill Hollis

The Water Supply of Rushden
DEAR SIR, - I do not wish to trouble you, but I know your paper circulates through a large district, and I think some of your readers might advise us how to get out of our present deplorable condition.  For some time past, cottages for the working classes have been springing up rapidly in this place, and are as rapidly occupied; in many cases the houses being promised as soon as the foundations are laid, and in some cases even before that.  Whether it is the fault of the owners in not sinking the wells deeper, or any other reason, I don’t know, but in many cases on the Wellingborough-road and the vicinity the water supply is very meagre at the best of times, and at this season of the year is totally inadequate; many of the occupiers of the cottages on this road and in Pemberton-street having daily to walk a long distance to obtain sufficient for every-day consumption.  At the present time there are no fewer than 19 houses in the street and road mentioned without water.  Twelve of them (six fronting Wellingborough-road and six in Pemberton-street) have drawn all their supplies from one pump, which owing to the incessant demand upon its scanty resources has been unable to stand the strain, and is now out of repair, and since Saturday last the whole of these 12 houses have been without a water supply, while the immediate repair of the said pump is a doubtful question.  On the opposite side of the same street seven new houses (some of which have been occupied eight months) have never had a water supply.  Two wells have been sunk, but the water does not rise to the surface for whistling for, and the occupants of these seven houses, who number about 50 persons, are wholly dependent upon the rain water (now rather scarce), and an occasional bucket smuggled by a considerate neighbour (also rather scarce).  The four pumps whose supplies are not exhausted are kept under lock and key, and in one case, at least, the owner (who drinks of the “water of life” in the same place of worship as a Christian brother, who applied for “only a little to wash in,”) refused the gift of a bucket of this necessary fluid, heedless of the blessing which is promised to the giver of a much smaller quantity.  These are the uncoloured circumstances of the case, and the manner in which every drop of water is husbanded, and the many uses to which it is put can be better imagined than described.

  Trusting that the publicity afforded by the News will be the means of something being done to put an end to this miserable state of affairs, I enclose my name, and remain  -  Yours truly,

Wellingborough-road, Rushden,
June 29th, 1887.

Wellingborough News, 8th July 1887, transcribed by Kay Collins

THE WATER SUPPLY—We have received further communications respecting the deficient water supply in some parts of this village. Some cottages are said to have no supply whatever, and in another case the well is allowed by the owner to remain out of repair. Our correspondent pertinently asks whether there is no authority who can deal with such cases. If the drought lasts the deficiency of water may have serious effects upon the health of the village.

Water Supply 1898/9

Rushden Echo, 12th September 1924, transcribed by Kay Collins

26 Years agoSeptember 1898
Thirteen cases of typhoid fever occurred at Rushden, and the Urban Council ordered certain surface wells to be closed.

Rushden Echo, 4th July 1924

25 years ago—July 1899
Boring for water at Sharnbrook by the Rushden Urban Council was carried out without satisfactory results.

The Rushden Echo, 3rd November 1899, transcribed by Jim Hollis

The Water Supply of Rushden
Expert’s Opinion - How To Increase The Quantity
The Rushden Urban Council at their meeting in committee on Wednesday night, had before them the report of Mr. Whitaker, of Croydon, on the water supply of the town and how it can be immediately increased. Mr. Whitaker says:-

“It seems that the only available source of water to any large extent which can be used at once at Rushden is the oolite limestone, on which the town is mostly placed, together with any gravely or sandy drift that overlies this. It is from such sources that your present limited supply is got, for the most part at all events, and the question to be considered therefore is whether some considerable further quantity can be got from them.”

Mr. Whitaker then points out that westward of Rushden the limestone is hidden to a large extent by a covering of boulder clay which much lessons the area of the gathering ground. On the east and south of the town this boulder clay is wide-spread, and the great difficulty is the want of more precise data on which to base a safe opinion. Proceeding, he says:-

“Turning now to your well on the western side of the Bedford Road on the high ground, stone beds were struck at a depth of 89 feet, and continued, with an included bed of clay to 105 feet. I am in doubt as to what the under-lying 12 feet of marls and clays may be. There may be other stone beds beneath. It seems to me that that the stone beds here have not been enough exploited, and Mr. Middleton has come to the same conclusion. Even should they prove to be here only of so small a thickness as 16 feet (including the 2½ feet of clay), I can see no reason why that amount of stone should not yield a much larger quantity of water than has been got. You have only a small well and it seems to me that it would be worth while to sink a larger well, and to drive there from horizontal galleries in the stone. Besides adding to the inflow of water, such galleries have another function that of giving underground storage. “You have collected water from sand and gravel in the valley below north west of Wymington by means of small pipes about a mile from the village, but I am in doubt whether full justice has been done to this source of supply by such means. I am inclined to think that more water would be got by making much larger opening. Long trenches in such a deposit sometimes give a large supply. This kind of work might be done in more than one place, wherever there may be a good deposit of sand and gravel.

“Beyond the two plans above alluded to. I fail to see any scheme that can be readily adopted and promptly acted on.”

Rushden Echo, 31st August 1900, transcribed by Kay Collins

The New Gasholder at the Rushden and Higham Ferrers gasworks is now practically completed, and the Company are now awaiting a supply of water in order to bring the holder into use. Some idea of the quantity of water required will be gathered when we say the amount is about three times as much as that in the reservoir which supplies the town. Under the present conditions, the town supply being inadequate, it is impossible to obtain water from the waterworks, and there is now nothing to be done but wait for the rains. The capacity of the new holder, which has been strongly built by Messrs C and W Walker, of Donnington, Shropshire, is half a million cubic feet—or double that of the other holder. The new holder lifts in two halves, in telescopic fashion, the top lift being 100 feet in diameter and the bottom lift 102 feet, and they are each 30 feet deep.

Extract from Council Meeting Report September 1900

Bedford-Road Well - Tenders were received for the supply of an oil engine and pump for the Bedford-road well, and the committee recommended the Council to accept the tender of Messrs. Mather and Son, at £172 15s, with £16 extra for gun metal barrels to the pump. The Surveyor’s estimate was £200.

Sharnbrook Trial Operations - The Chairman reported that the Clerk had received a letter from Mr. Hipwell in which he asked that the agreement made last year might be adapted to the present suggestion of sinking a trial well in his meadow. This would mean a certain amount of further legal expenses and the committing of the Council to several provisions in case of purchase, which he and the Clerk did not think advisable for the Council again to commit themselves to. He (the Chairman) had since endeavoured to see Mr. Gibbard, also a riverside owner, but had been unable to do so. He had, however, seen Mr. Whitworth, who had suitable land, and he had signified his willingness to allow the Council to make the trial operations required on the same terms as Mr. Hipwell, but without any further provisions in case of purchase. The Clerk had drawn up a short agreement to this effect, which had been submitted to Mr. Whitworth that evening and approved by him.

The committee considered the arrangement a very satisfactory one, especially as the site selected is above Sharnbrook, which Mr. Middleton preferred, and recommended the Council to approve and confirm the same.

Mr. Clipson said the new site was far preferable to the other one and the access to it from Rushden was easier.

On the motion of the Chairman the report was adopted, the seal of the Council was affixed to the agreement and a cheque for £15 was signed as compensation for Mr. Whitworth.

Extract from Council Meeting Report October 1900

Waterworks Sub-Committee
A meeting of the Waterworks Sub-committee was held on Tuesday 16th October, 1900. Present:- Messrs. F. Knight (chairman), G. Fountain, and J. S. Clipson.

Bedford-road Well. – The following tenders for the erection of a engine house at the Bedford-road well were opened:-

Mr. H. Sparrow
Mr. R. Marriott
Messrs. Whittington and Tomlin
Messrs. Walker and Everard

It was resolved that the tender of Messrs. Walker and Everard be accepted.

Sharnbrook Operations – Portable Engine. – The Surveyor reported that he had visited Messrs. Allchins Works at Northampton, and found they had a suitable engine for sale for £90.

It was resolved to purchase this engine at the price named and ask for delivery at the earliest possible moment.

Pumps. – Messrs. Gwynne and Co’s tender for a centrifugal pump with sliding suction and pipes was also accepted at £37 8s.

The Rushden Echo, 20th November, 1903, transcribed by Jim Hollis

The Rushden and Higham Ferrers Waterworks

Up to the present time the total amount expended by the Rushden and Higham Ferrers Joint Water Board, in providing the two towns with a supply of water from the Sywell source, is £53,000, including the land purchase and the works. The original estimate, it will be seen, has already been exceeded; and the cost, before the work is concluded, is likely to be not far short of £100,000. At a meeting of the Joint Board on Monday cheques amounting to £1,680 12s. were signed for the costs entailed in passing the Act of Parliament. From the monthly report of the engineer (Mr. R. E. Middleton) it seems that progress has been retarded during the past month. At the filter beds, however, the whole of the foundation walls, and all the cross walls for carrying the floor, are now completed, and the whole of the floor for the lowest and the centre filters is finished. Some progress has been made with the laying of the mains, but, owing to the bad weather during the month of October very little has been done to the main embankment at the storage reservoir at Sywell, the bank having been so wet that it was impossible for horses to work upon it. There were several days on which only a few men were at work. The average number of men employed at the reservoir, however, on the days when the full squad were working, was about 115, besides about fifty on the pipe track. The water gauge in the Sywell brook shows that during the month of October there was an average flow of 2,515 gallons a day.

Rushden Echo, 18th May 1906, transcribed by Kay Collins

The New Water Supply for Rushden – Testing the Pressure – The Fire Brigade at Work
In order to test the pressure of water from the new reservoir, the Rushden Fire Brigade carried out a series of drills in High-street, Rushden, on Monday night. Captain Fred Knight, J.P., was in command. Mr G R Turner (the secretary), Mr J T Colson (engineer), and other members of the brigade being also present.

The fire escape and the hose cart were utilized, but the manual was not brought into requisition, the object being to ascertain what use could be made of the pressure in the new mains by the use of the standpipes and hose.

An experiment was first made near the parish church, and it was very satisfactory to note that a stream of water could easily be thrown over the church.

Near the Coffee Tavern, a very interesting test was made. By means of an apparatus invented by Mr G R Turner, the fire escape was used for holding the hose at the height of the Public Hall and throwing a stream of water on to the roof of the building.

Two sets of hose were used at the Post Office. One was used to throw a jet of water from the roadway to the roof, and the other was run to the top of the building by being fastened to the fire escape.

Other tests were made at Messrs Sanders and Sanders’s factory at the corner of Station-road and at the North-end Council Schools, both being satisfactory.

Rushden Echo, 24th January 1908, transcribed by Kay Collins

Wollaston - The Water Supply—At a meeting of the Parish Council yesterday week the Clerk read a letter from Mr. Madin, clerk to the Higham and Rushden Water Board, stating that their charges for water in bulk would be 9d. per 1,000 gallons. After discussion it was resolved to invite Mr. Beeby Thompson to meet the members at their next meeting.

The Rushden Echo, 20th January 1928, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushden Water for Court Estate
“May Be Necessary Some Time” – “A Sorry Day When It Is”
Souldrop Application Raises “Hardy Annual”

At the monthly meeting of the Higham Ferrers and Rushden Water Board on Monday an application was made by the Clerk of the Bedford Rural Council (Mr. W. G. Daniels) for terms for supplying water to the parish of Souldrop.

The Clerk (Mr. G. S. Mason), replying to members, said that similar applications had been made in the past in respect of Souldrop. He read an extract from the minute-book of several years ago stating that the Board had considered an application for supplying Souldrop and the Colworth Estate with about 3,000 galls per day. The Board had then decided that the capital outlay beyond the Rushden boundary would have to be borne by the applicants, and the minimum payment for water would be £100 a year, 1s. 6d. a thousand gallons being the rate.

Mr. Wilmott pointed out that the rate was now higher. He added that if, as part of the scheme, a water-tower was erected, it might suit the Court Estate people.

Mr. Lloyd (Acting Surveyor) said that an estimate had been prepared in 1914 showing that the cost to the Board for building a pumping station and water tower and providing pumping plant at the Bedford-road reservoir and laying the main to the boundary (“Forty-foot-lane”) would have been £1,350. The cost to the supplicants of continuing the main from that point to Colworth through Souldrop would have been more than £1,000. An estimate in 1920 had given the prices as roughly three-and-a-half times the 1914 figures, and the Board’s minimum was given as £400 a year.

Mr. J. Hornsby, J.P., said that they ought not to take on the responsibility of

Supplying More Towns

with water. The time might come when they would not have any water to spare, with the town and district developing as fast as at present. He personally would not entertain the idea.

Mr. Wilmott said that the present application would not affect the Board so much in the quantity required as in the capital outlay for so small an amount, though he agreed that they must not give away too much water, in view of the fact that the water was 6ft. 6in. below the weir one dry summer. Also, there was no object in raising the Height of the reservoir retaining wall for more water if it was not required, and no reason in selling water they needed themselves.

The Chairman (Alderman T. Patenall) said that, though Souldrop was badly off for water, the small amount they needed did not justify the capital outlay.

Alderman J. H. Johnson said there was the question of the Court estate, which would be considered at the same time.

Mr. Hornsby said that it might be necessary for the Board to supply the Court estate some time.

Mr. F. Knight, J.P. (vice-chairman): It will be a sorry day for us when it is. It may cost us £10,000.

It was agreed that the Clerk be instructed to reply stating that the board could not see their way to granting the application.

Mr. Lloyd reported that an offer had been made to the Board of a 2h.p. petrol engine, dynamo, and other electric lighting equipment, for use at the Sywell works, at about £50 or £60. The owner, a resident of Broughton, no longer required the plant as the Northampton Electric Supply Company had taken current into the village. The system, it was stated, cost only 2s. a week to run.

The Chairman said the Board was paying 7s. 6d. a week for oil lighting at present. The question was not urgent, and he thought there was a possibility of the county electricity being taken through Sywell.

On the chairman’s recommendation, consideration of the offer was adjourned to the next meeting.

The Surveyor’s report for the month stated that the pumps had been running 453 hours during December, an average of 14.61 hours per day. During the month the storage

Reservoir had Overflowed Continuously,

the amount going over the bywash being estimate at 49,360,000 gallons. At the end of December 1926, the water was 3ft. 10in. Below the overflow cill and the water in stock was then 171,548,000 gallons, against 236,000,000 gallons at the end of last month. Rainfall had been as follows: Sywell, 2.73in., making the total for 1927 28.76in.; Rushden, 3.6in., total for the year 32.8in. The figure for December 1926, and that year were: Sywell .55in. and 24.54in.; Rushden .53in. and 26.6in. Water had been sold to neighbouring authorities as follows: Irchester, 1,077,000 gallons; Wollaston, 627,000; Wymington 216,000; Mears Ashby Hall, 12,000; and Earls Barton, 37,000; a total of 1,969,000 gallons, against 1,815,000 gallons in December 1926. The amount of water consumed in higham Ferrers and Rushden was 10,364,000, a daily average of 334,309, the figures for December 1926, being 9,489,000 and 306,096 gallons. It would be noticed, the report continued, that Wymington supply had been very much above normal. The Surveyor had had the village inspected for leakages, but none was found. The inspector said there had been some bursts through the frosty weather and there had been a large amount of pig-killing in the village during the month, accounting for the excessive amount of water used. Meters were tested and were found to be in order.

In reply to questions, Mr. Lloyd said that in November 1927, Wymington consumption was 107,000 gallons. In December the amount was double. There must have been waste.

Mr. Hornsby said he thought the rainfall for Rushden for 1927 (32.8in.) was a record since statistics were kept.

The Chairman said that the Board was fortunate that the severe weather had not caused them more damage.

The report was adopted.

Mr. G. W. Coles, J.P., and Mr. T. Swindall were present in addition to the members and officials above mentioned.

Extract from a Fire report 1934

...... The flames had got a strong hold, and delay was caused by the fact that someone had to go along Bedford-road to turn on the water (now switched off at nights to conserve the supply).

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