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Public Water Supply for Badsey

This article is based on a talk given by Valerie Magan at the Badsey Society's 2010 AGM. A much fuller report on her research has been deposited in the Badsey Society archives.

During the 1800s, England's population was dying from cholera and typhoid. No-one knew what caused the diseases until after public concern, a Royal Commission reported on the state of the country's water supplies: drains were inadequate, and rivers were polluted. It was a shocking state of affairs.

A few Public Health Acts were passed but they were never taken seriously. In the 1870s house building increased. Something had to be done. Local Authorities were encouraged to provide public water supplies and public sewers, but it wasn't going to be easy.

Gradually though, Local Councils were compelled to appoint a medical officer, lay sewers, drains, and pavements; provide street cleaning, and take measures to control disease.

Engineers from Evesham had been searching many years for a reliable water source, as an alternative to the town's polluted wells. An ideal spring on the Middle Hill Estate, above Broadway, was found in 1881. The owner of the estate, was entrepreneur and business man Edgar Flower, co-owner of the Flowers Brewery in Stratford upon Avon. Edgar sold the rights of his spring water to Evesham Borough Council, and in 1883 Childswickham Reservoir was constructed on a half acre site, where water off the hill gravitated down to it. Pipework was laid alongside the main Broadway to Evesham Road, supplying Evesham Town with a piped water supply. It was named Evesham Borough Corporation Water Works and was officially opened at 12 o'clock on 1st January 1884 with great pomp and ceremony.

A procession left the Town Hall at 11.30 am and marched along Port Street, out to Bench Hill, now called Broadway Road, where the pipework entered the town. A band played music along the route, school children, teachers, and many dignitaries marched along with members of Evesham Borough Council. Once the Water Works were officially opened, the procession made its way back to the Town Hall for a public luncheon. A firework display took place near Workman Gardens at 5 pm, and the celebrations were concluded with a public ball in the evening. Around 60 people attended and they danced the night away to Wheatley's band.

Edgar Flower- in 1881
Edgar Flower in 1881. Image by permission of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

December 1887 Almost four years after the opening of Evesham's Water Works, an Agreement was drawn up, between Evesham Borough, and The Rural Sanitary Authority to provide piped water for Badsey and Wickhamford. Supply was intended to begin in March 1888, the agreement would run for 25 years. The Rural Sanitary Authority would buy water off Evesham Borough for 1s. 4d for every 1000 gallons supplied. The run of the mill price would be twopence per week to ratepayers.

Word spread to Badsey ratepayers they were going to have a piped water supply. Fully aware of the consequences, they demonstrated unwillingness to accept change and dug their heels in right to the last with a meeting at the National School in Badsey, to take sense of the Rural Sanitary Authority compelling the ratepayers of Badsey to incur the expense of an imported water supply, in direct opposition to the wishes of the parish. Around 50 ratepayers were present and all but two, voted to convey their resolution to the Rural Sanitary Authority.

Their meeting was held in vain, piped water was supplied in 1888, so the village gave in and settled itself down to the new luxury of water from the tap, and as time moved on, yet more villages were to receive piped water. A further spring supply was found above Broadway. Now there would be two piped water systems fed from the Cotswold Springs: the original one from Childswickham Reservoir straight into Evesham Town; and the most innovative undertaking in the whole of the country at the time, the appropriately named "Village Water Scheme", again from Childswickham Reservoir but branching off into the surrounding villages.

The Works of the Village Water Scheme began in 1896. Eventually Badsey would be disconnected from Evesham Town's water and joined to the Village Water Scheme. A year later the Village Water Scheme Works were well underway, and water matters were also well under way on the agendas of Badsey Parish Council meetings, and likewise at Evesham Rural District Council Meetings. There was no hesitation in both parties speaking their minds that year and by November 1897, matters came to a head.

At a Rural District Council Meeting a lively discussion ensued over Badsey's deficit in water charges and the Evesham Journal was subsequently criticized over its reporting.

Apparently, Thomas Byrd, District Councillor, was heard to say the water charges didn't cover Badsey's cost and every year ratepayers had to make up a considerable deficit, so perhaps they should pay according to Aldington's water charges. He complained that in Badsey, water was used for washing asparagus, horses and traps, feeding pigs etc. If they were going to use water for these sorts of things they ought to pay for it. Some people who paid the 2d per week charge used more water than those paying 6d.

Richard Pendlebury, Badsey Parish representative, said there were 55 horses in Badsey, 47 of them were used for market gardening purposes and suggested an amendment to show a scale of charges used by another water company, where each horse, trap etc was charged. That amendment was lost, but the proposal to charge according to Aldington charges was referred to a Committee. The very next week a letter appeared in the Evesham Journal from Thomas Byrd:

To the Editor.
Sir, in the report of the last meeting of the Evesham Rural District Council contained in your issue of November 6th, the following remarks on the above subject are attributed to me:- "he complained that people used the water for washing asparagus, horses and traps, feeding pigs etc". These observations were really made by Mr. Pendlebury, and probably the mistake was occasioned by the fact that Mr. Pendlebury commenced to speak before I had finished. In confirmation of this statement I received the following letter from Mr. Pendlebury:- Dear Sir, The remarks from "he complained etc., down to they ought to pay for it" were made by yours truly, Richard Pendlebury.
Yours truly,
Thomas Byrd.

The Evesham Journal replied by printing underneath Thomas Byrd's letter "We of course publish Mr. Byrd's letter. We can only state that our report of the proceedings was in accordance with our reporter's shorthand notes and that our report is practically identical with the only other published record of the proceedings. Of course when two or more members are speaking at the same time it is difficult to distinguish one from the other".

That same month, November 1897 The Village Water Scheme works were finished and officially opened at Childswickham Reservoir.

Badsey was still connected to Evesham Town mains supply, under the 25 year agreement and 1897 ended with the Parish Council objecting to an introduction of new water charges and requested a water supply by meter and to be charged per 1000 gallons. Then, as time crept by paranoia set in and the Parish Council wanted to be present when the meter was read. Then they didn't believe the meter and requested a new water meter that would be more reliable and of better make. They did concede though, to new water charges for Trade purposes, to help out with the Council's deficit in water income.

1913 Badsey's original 25 year agreement for water supply via Evesham Town's main, was extended for one more year, meaning in March 1914 Badsey would be cut off from Evesham Town's main supply and officially connected to the marvelous Village Water Scheme. The transition in 1914 to different sized pipes and water pressures caused many burst pipes. Downtime was a lengthy business in those days: one weekend, cooking Sunday lunch was interrupted with no water available; the Journal reported a tale of one house experimenting cooking the vegetables in beer but it didn't prove entirely successful.

Owing to increasing demand for water, further springs were acquired in 1929 at Snowshill, all gravitating down to Childswickham Reservoir.

Demand increased still further, and the Pinnock Springs were obtained in the 1940s. In 1940 chlorination of water began.

1961 Evesham Borough Council sold the Water Corporation to the East Worcestershire Water Company. Gradually each house had its own personal water meter.

1993 Severn Trent Water took over East Worcestershire Water Company, to form an enlarged Severn Trent Water.

Today Childswickham Reservoir, Evesham Town and the surrounding villages receive their water supply from the water treatment works "The Mythe" at Tewkesbury and also Strensham. A very small amount is still available from the Pinnock Springs. The once used springs above Broadway now feed into brooks and rivers. They proved just too unreliable for today's unprecedented demand for water, and contained too much nitrate.

A public sewer for Badsey to complement the public water supply

August 1896 The civil engineer who was involved with the Village Water Scheme, Mr. J. Edward Willcox, was called in again by Evesham Rural District Council, to provide a drawing and overview of Badsey's drainage system. The drawing was very detailed, proposing most of the village ditches should be piped in. Sewer pipes were indicated as well, to show how sewage would flow through 9-inch pipes along the village, ending up in some sort of contained pit, or catchment area at the bottom of Monks Path. Today that area is a pumping station surrounded with security fencing.

A sewer was quoted for, to cost around £900, but 18 months later in November 1897, Evesham Rural District Council wrote to the County Council for sanction to a loan of £2,000 to carry out construction of Badsey's sewer. Parish Council Members were not amused. They hadn't objected to £900 but £2000 was too large and expensive for a place like Badsey and no consultation had taken place over the new sum needed. The sewerage scheme rumbled on over pricing. The Parish Council wanted house owners to pay the enormous cost, and it not to be put on the rates.

Detail from the 1896 drainage map
A detail from the 1896 drainage map. Click on the image to see the whole map. The black dotted lines show existing drains many of which discharged directly into Badsey Brook. The proposed scheme is shown in red ink.

January 1907 A tender from Thomas Vale, of Stourport, was accepted by the Parish Council for constructing the public sewer.

Evesham Rural District Council leased the land (to the north-east of Horsebridge Avenue), from Mr. James Ashwin of Bretforton, for 99 years at a reasonable yearly rent. 9" diameter pipes were used to convey the sewerage along to the works. It was stipulated that an "iron, unclimable fence of not less than 5 feet in height" was to be constructed. The lane going off from the Bretforton Road down to the land would serve as a maintenance access lane. The lane is known locally as "Packs". People talk about "going down Packs".

The sewerage works were constructed: Some locals say that going up the Pike meant going down with the sewer and that "it lays a hell of a depth there because sewerage won't go uphill". General opinion is that the pipes could lay up to 30 feet deep and a tunnel was dug through the ground at the time of construction. In Chapel Street, the sewerage travels down the pipes in one direction, and on the other side of the road it travels in the opposite direction. Parish Council notes indicate though that not everyone along the Bretforton Road were connected at the time of construction; it caused a lot of frustration in later years. The loan £2,200 for the sewer was eventually paid off in October 1936.

Many years ago, when some of the Council Houses were under construction, local children were always interested in cycling round the building site and the sewer wasn't all that far away either. The biggest attraction apparently was cycling around the sewerage tanks, or having a ride on the tanks' paddles as they travelled round. The game was called "going through the motions". Apparently, bamboo sticks grew tall there as well, and they improvised as good fishing rods.

As time went by, some residents along the Bretforton Road felt they were paying their share of the cost but receiving no benefit from a public sewer. Harry Stewart and George King pressed, prompted and prodded at every given opportunity to raise the profile at Parish Council Meetings. Records of old Parish Meeting Minutes reflect the sheer desperation of their plight at the time. The only responses from the District Council were inspections and emptying of nuisance cesspits. Patching over the problems didn't resolve the matter but in the end, our modern pace of life did. In October 1957 there was rumour of a Badsey and District Sewerage Scheme. That gave a clue to the problems facing the District Council at the time. In 1964 the sewerage works were started. A good sign that Bretforton Road residents were now reaping their rewards of tirelessly challenging the District Council, was the absence of further remarks in Parish Council Minutes.

A few hiccups ensued, like in July 1969 Blackminster Sewerage Works were smelling and Evesham Rural District Council used chemical deodorants to try and rid the air of the smell. In the 1970s, Severn Trent Water Authority were responsible for Blackminster Sewerage Works and extensions and improvements have been made ever since. The more recent was an investment in 2007 of some £6-million to install new technology that can clean the sewerage in a more efficient way and reduce odours.

Valerie Magan
February 2010

Water Fountain

In January 2015 Colin Tether drew our attention to the Water Fountain which stands at the junction of Broadway Road, Elm Road and Port Street.

Shown below the water basin area:


Shown around the base:


Henry Burlingham was a prominent Evesham citizen.  He is buried in the Evesham Friends Meeting House, Peace Garden. The Waterworks referred to are the Evesham Waterworks, fed from a reservoir at Childswickham, adjacent to the A44 close to the junction with the B4632.