Day to Day => Towns & Villages => Water Features => Topic started by: kyn on March 11, 2012, 11:42:05

Title: Residential Wells
Post by: kyn on March 11, 2012, 11:42:05
This section of the 1879 Ordnance Survey plan showing Gillingham shows lots of wells in this area, I didn't realise personal wells were so popular!  I wonder if current residents know what they have in their garden, and if they were covered properly when they fell into disuse???
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF7999Large.jpg)
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: Paul on March 11, 2012, 11:46:44
Well,well,well  :)

Were they proper wells or just bore holes I know it says "Wells"?
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: Leofwine on March 11, 2012, 12:58:25
I wonder if they were active wells or old ones? I know the dockyard extension works cut the springs feed in the many residential wells in Brompton in 1856, but I'm not sure if the same supply would have fed these New Brompton wells too.

There is some more on these wells in these threads: http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=7624.0 and http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=9084.0
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: seafordpete on March 11, 2012, 13:56:35
How about them being the original watewr supply for 6 or 8 houses with a hand pump? I know in Newhaven there is at least one street where there is a well outside the back window of each house which supplied a hand pump in the kitchen, no reason to think that was a unique situation. Those houses were built 1880-1900
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: kyn on March 11, 2012, 14:26:50
I was surprised as it would have been expensive to pay for a well to be dug, much of central Chatham must have either been too poor or already supplied with piped water as there are only a handful marked.
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: Sylvaticus on March 12, 2012, 00:07:09
I noticed that a number of them were on property boundaries, suggesting they were shared and related to the development, others just outside and presumably public. Suggesting Seafordpete is right.

Kyn, water is a an absolute necessity for a community. What is the cost of digging these wells compared to digging trenches and laying water mains to every house. It's a cost that has to be paid.
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: Leofwine on March 12, 2012, 02:49:42
Looking at the distribution of wells, almost all of those are on Mill Road/Church Path (Saunders Street), the two oldest roads on that part of the map being founded before 1840. The next oldest street (Lower Britton Street - now Arden Street) was, as far as I can figure out, begun c.1850 and has a couple and I don't see any in Fox Street or the other 1860s+ Streets. This might well tie in with the loss of the spring feeding the wells in 1856 (after which piped water was supplied to the area)
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: swiftone on March 12, 2012, 07:36:00
Kyn, have you got the rest of the 1879 plan in close up from Church Path to Gillingham Dockyard gate? This part of Gillingham is older and it might also clear up a mystery for me whether one location was a well or a cesspit.
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: darrenh on March 12, 2012, 21:12:35
we have a well in our back garden (been filled many years, now only a brick circle about 2 feet high)  its noted on OS maps as far back as i could trace last year.

we live in one of a pair of converted labourers cottages attached to a farm, an oast, barn, etc.  it was shared by that cluster of buildings, i think theres still a clause in the deeds or for the rite to pass or access the land
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: kyn on March 15, 2012, 17:29:50
Kyn, have you got the rest of the 1879 plan in close up from Church Path to Gillingham Dockyard gate? This part of Gillingham is older and it might also clear up a mystery for me whether one location was a well or a cesspit.

I did have but seem to have misplaced it :(
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: kyn on March 15, 2012, 17:37:42
Found it!
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF7999.jpg)
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: swiftone on March 16, 2012, 15:50:13
Found it!


Thanks Kyn. Have you got this section of the 1879 in close up which is north of the last one.
(http://i864.photobucket.com/albums/ab206/swiftone_album/1879part.png?t=1331912725)
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: Lyn L on March 16, 2012, 16:00:09
It still seems funny to me but my Mum and Dad lived in  one of that little block of 4 houses you can see at the end of the gardens just under the name Fox Terrace. The only way you could get to it was down an alley from Saunders St, and I think you could also get to it from an alley in Fox St, it was numbered 48 Saunders St but you wouldn't know they were there if you were looking for the house number. When they were there , there was another house opposite all on it's own which isn't on that map. I didn't realise the house was that old  :)
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: kyn on March 16, 2012, 20:37:59
Here you go swiftone.
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF7997Large-1.jpg)
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: swiftone on March 17, 2012, 08:01:29
That's great, thanks a lot Kyn. I think that map is based on the 1860's first edition O.S. map. Besides the wells it also shows a couple of other interesting facts. I need to investigate further.
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: swiftone on March 19, 2012, 19:00:43
These wells in Wyles St. do not make it to many maps including Kyn's. I originally marked this as 1885 then changed it to 1866, but I cannot remember why.

(http://i864.photobucket.com/albums/ab206/swiftone_album/1866was1885.png?t=1331977017)

Compare it to the old-maps of 1885

(http://i864.photobucket.com/albums/ab206/swiftone_album/1885old-maps.png?t=1331977017)

Kyn's map also shows a well about where the entrance to Admirals Gardens is.

These maps should load quite fast as there is plenty of white space on them.
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: Paolo on April 27, 2017, 18:04:18
Developers have uncovered this beauty in land adjoining Well House, Radnor Cliff, Folkestone.  What intrigues me is the tapered top.  From the quality of the brickwork I imagine it to have been built from the outside.  I was invited to climb inside to check but that was an offer I could refuse.

Have any subscribers encountered anything similar before.  Why would one taper a well or build it so wide that it had to be tapered?
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: CAT on April 27, 2017, 20:14:44
I've encountered dozens in various locations across Kent. As opposed to it being a well in the traditional sense, this is a water cistern for storing water, mainly from roofs. If correct it should be lined internally with a waterproof render, including its base. This means that water from the surrounding geology cannot seep in and taint the fresh water within. They are usually connected with a hand pump via a lead or iron pipe. As you said Paolo they are constructed from the inside similar to a well.
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: smiffy on April 27, 2017, 20:49:32
Approximately when would this date from?
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: Paolo on April 27, 2017, 21:34:11
Not sure about the date, smiffy but believe Well House to be early 20th century.  There was a query on the forum from the new owner of No. 2 (property now converted to two semi-detached houses), moleman, some while ago, as to the architect, possibly Voysey.

CAT - the cistern, if such, is a considerable distance from the property but I guess sited to be a garden feature?  As there is no entry visible from the brickwork so far revealed I presume that  the feeder pipe would be at ground level?  Certainly plenty of water pouring out from the cliff above, which has a base of impermeable gault clay.
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: CAT on April 27, 2017, 22:53:23
Usually these tend to date from the mid eighteenth-century through to the early twentieth-century with a hiatus during the mid-late nineteenth-century. Their loss as a feature occurs with the advent of piped water.

They are usually constructed completely below ground (notice the unfinished jointing of the brick works outer face) with a circular opening in the top, often covered with a shaped piece of Yorkstone. The pic Paolo posted clearly shows it after the ground level around it had been reduced by the new development.  It looks as if it was later capped with a concrete plug, possibly when it went out of use? There is a suggestion they were a more common garden feature as they are frequently found away from the main dwelling? Usually they tend to be about 2-3m in diameter and up to 3-4m deep. However I worked on a pair in the grounds of Sharstead Court, next to the gardeners cottage, that were roughly 5m in diameter and nearly 7m deep.
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: conan on April 27, 2017, 23:51:35
Are we sure this a well? Being away from the house, could it be a cess pit?
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: CAT on April 28, 2017, 08:14:37
it could be a cess pit, however, cess pits were to allow liquid to drain whilst enabling solids to decompose. The solids would still amass until it would need emptying, which means a half decent access would be required. All the similar ones I've dealt with in the past don't have any sign of cess staining on the internal wall faces or residue of contents. The fact that they all still retain water, unless they have been infilled with rubble and waste soil suggests they are to retain water and not to allow it to leach away.
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: Paolo on April 28, 2017, 08:22:52
Approximately when would this date from?

This extract from moleman58's original topic on Radnor Cliff:- (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=11979.0)

"Now following up the subsequent occupiers and trying to look back at any previous owners/occupiers, but it could be this (1934/35) was when the house was built. There are no previous records in the electoral register, plus ties in with the OS map".

Main drainage was certainly in place at that time.  That, coupled with the fact that the house was so named and CAT's technical experience, would surely point away from a cess pit?

I fear that it may be demolished as it features nowhere on the plans for the new dwelling, although a glass floor over would be a lovely feature as long as it is a well and not a cess pit!
Title: Re: Residential Wells
Post by: CAT on April 28, 2017, 12:22:01
Sad to say these features are more of an inconvenience to the modern building, as for some reason they always seem to be found on the site of a critical junction or corner of any new foundations (always puzzled me that one, as if the modern architect knows something the builder doesn't)?

Putting it below a glass plate can be a good idea, which I have seen done to both wells and cisterns, however, the damp conditions inside usually mean the underside of the glass goes green very quickly and without sealing it properly releases a strong musty smell.

I did see a series of these beneath the garden of a large house in Barham relined and a complex electric pump system operated in the garden shed to use the collected water from the roof of the house to water the garden. Very useful, but expensive?