Council Utility & Public Services

Tapping Water Mains

Water is the basic essence of life. We therefore take for granted all homes be connected to a ready supply of drinkable purity. Piped connection to mains and drains brought added convenience of flushable toilets, although instant hot water on tap from an internal bathroom was a rarer luxury up until the 1960's. Earliest terraced cottages were then either demolished, or converted to meet acceptable modern day standards.

Steep Hucknall meadows under heights of Huthwaite were not short of rain for early farming. That drainage starts eastward journey for the River Meden across north of Huthwaite below Herrods Hill. Blackwell Brook flows south presenting our Derbyshire borderline. Mapperwells and Nunn Brook settled in a marshy valley where the great Sherwood Forest recognised Dirty Hucknall aside Foul Wood of Fulwood. Those trickling waters did not however encourage earliest settlers. They generally favoured fertile banks along busy rivers before sailing upstream in search of quieter pastures. Older towns and eventually larger cities often show a proportional growth is based on volume of available fresh running water, and not just for quenching thirst.

An 1884 mapping of Hucknall Huthwaite could have been commissioned to determine need as a prelude to installing mains water. It exposes how several communal wells had started supplying this fast growing area, led by farm holders sinking private well pumps. The relative ease of accessing fresh water draining from The Falls, filling The Pool towards Commonside meadows, initially helped house working tenants forming full length of Main Street. Alternatively, Pit Row cottages below Blackwell Road would be a reported area long left reliant upon drinking what filtered through that coal mine. The lack of piped tap water stunted desperate demand for wider residential expansion, leaving only cramped Yards to branch off Main Street.

The Local Board of Sutton-in-Ashfield first set about dealing with town sewage, a year before commencing their water scheme back in 1881. They were also critically influential in later proposing Hucknall Huthwaite ought to gain same benefit of a clear fresh ample supply. A Mr Hodgkinson from the Sutton Board actually forwarded the idea, claiming the Hucknall Huthwaite Board had been considering the situation almost ten years before compelled into obtaining supplies. His research into alternative suppliers on their behalf gave estimated costs to suggest their best deal would cost Sutton £500, and Hucknall Huthwaite about £1,500.

Credit can be given the Huthwaite committee for significantly reducing a tendered sliding tariff from an initial 7s. down to a flat rate of 7d. per 1,000 gallons, with a minimum quarterly payment of £15 to secure water actually sourced from Rushley Pumping Station. The two Local Boards soon reached mutually agreeable terms early January 1886, although this deal didn't forge a good local partnership through future years.

The work involved at Sutton obviously required the laying of a mains pipe up to the Huthwaite border, Sutton Pumping Station where a water meter calculated usage. This small pump house sited at junction of Alfreton Road and Huthwaite Road near Sutton cemetery, also increased the water pressure for its uphill route.

A tram lined scene displays area now cornered by a petrol station car wash. Huthwaite Road Junction

Agreeing to ensure a three day supply of water created necessity to sink a suitably sized reservoir ideally on highest point possible within Huthwaite. That is of course, easily found above Strawberry Bank, dated prior any Harper Lane housing. The only visible sign of any underground tanks were the valved pipeworks above ground within the enclosure. Seen in 2002 amidst a residentially lined Chesterfield Road, a grassed over mound topped those redundant works. This land sold by Severn Trent Water presented 2012 houses. Huthwaite Water Reservoir

Those new waterworks were formally opened October 6th 1886, by Unwin Heathcote of Shephalbury. A rapid rise in house numbers among widely emerging streets thereafter must not only prove it a successful venture, but also suggests the delayed start must have stunted earlier chance of developing Huthwaite. It was about ten years before when New Hucknall Colliery began inviting mine workers. Expecting to quickly double the population, these arrived to find a severe shortage of accommodation, all restrictively crammed around a number of communal water wells. They may have been suitably employed sinking others, until a mains pipe allowed private enterprise and colliery built housing to widely progress from 1887. Even rapidly wider unrestricted construction still struggled to keep pace with far greater demand well into the 1930's.Huthwaite Waterworks

Meantime, the Hucknall Huthwaite Local Board is succeeded by a Huthwaite Urban District Council. They encounter worsening problems stretching supplies from Sutton's Coxmoor reservoir. Pressure loss added to frequent shortages become the concern of Gedfrey Bostock, who's identified from 1900 holding multi roles of Gas and Water Manager, plus Surveyor and Sanitary Inspector. The schemes 30 year term ended to coincide with loan repayment, but then the subcommittee delayed making any alternative arrangements.

Mr Ernest Bostock MIM&CyE of Sutton Road is identified in 1932, having taken over all multi roles previously held by Godfrey, while further adding title of Architect. March 1932 reports Huthwaite councillors opposing a proposed Sutton amalgamation, and while claiming to seek full independence, only now do they draw up plans long pressed by a Sherwood Area Water Committee to join a new Blackwell and Warsop Water Scheme. This supply was finally adopted next June. Recognising a massive £100,000 undertaking, it was designed to benefit several rural councils, serving 91,000 consuming daily average at 20 gallons per head.

Completing the titled Meden Valley Waterworks was marked by a formal opening in March 1933 by Mr Day, chairman of the joint committee. This building sited in Budby, bears a stone above main entrance reading Meden Valley Waterworks 1932. It was here at Budby where bore holes sunk in 1929 Budby Waterworks were found easily capable of drawing 2 million gallons daily. Use of electric pumps forced the clear liquid at a rate of 18,000 gallons per minute into a million gallon reservoir situated at Stoney Houghton. Pumps there filled another underground 500,000 gallon reservoir found sited upon neighbouring heights of Whiteborough. Pumping is normally done overnight. Monitoring employed a state of the art glass tube fitted with electronic circuitry. This could automatically ring a bell to alert a caretaker in case levels did ever fall dramatically.

This service did prove most reliable, except for some expected WWII shortages. My father recalls need then to fill jugs at Berristow Farm, sharing that owners still trusty hand pumped water well.

Apart from being reminded by councillors of the virtues this did bring, residents remained unaware of the hidden work involved underground. So exactly when Huthwaite reservoir was made redundant is unclear. Presumably these larger Whiteborough waterworks immediately took over full responsibility serving beyond both Huthwaite and Blackwell. Remotely sited off Newtonwood Lane just over the county border leaves little visible clue to ascertain if any major modernisation has ever been required inside this large enclosure.Whiteborough Reservoir

Marvels of one stone kitchen sink fitted with a single tap is living memory that's shared by many from older generations. And without any wish of returning back to the days of tin baths, laundry dolly tubs and wash boards, nor cold outside toilets. Having afforded far better equipped homes, all local authorities and private water companies throughout England and Wales relinquished duties after 18th July 1973. This dates the Water Act asserting to make provision for a national policy for water, for the conferring and discharge of functions as to water (including sewerage and sewage disposal, fisheries and land drainage) and as to recreation and amenity in connection with water, for the making of charges by water authorities and other statutory water undertakers, and for connected purposes.Severn Trent Logo

Of the ten boards, a Severn Trent Water Authority took localised responsibility for all these historic waterworks. Name reflects interest around those two main rivers before 1989 national privatisation formed Severn Trent Plc facing global concerns.


Written 05 Apr 13 and Revised 22 May 15 © by Gary Elliott