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Author Topic: The Brompton, Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham Water Works Company  (Read 17895 times)

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Offline Leofwine

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Re: The Brompton, Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham Water Works Company
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2012, 19:07:13 »
Kentish Gazette - Tuesday 12 November 1861

LAW INTELLIGENCE.
COURT OF QUEEN'S BENCH. Nov. 2. — THE QUEEN v. THE REGISTRAR OF THE COUNTY COURT OF KENT. — Mr. Prentice moved for a rule calling upon the Registrar of the County Court of Kent, which was held at Rochester, and a person named Young, to show cause why the Registrar should not receive and approve a bond tendered by the Brompton, Chatham, Gillingham, and Rochester Waterworks Company, as security for costs. It appeared from the learned counsel's statement, that an action had been brought up by a person named Young against the Waterworks Company, in the County Court, claiming £50 as damages for negligence in the construction of certain works, and the company, under the 30th section of the 19th and 20 Victoria, cap. 108, gave notice to remove the cause to a superior court, and tendered to the Registrar a bond, with sureties, security for costs, as required by the 70th section. The Registrar approved of the sureties, but he refused to accept the bond, upon the ground that the company, being a corporation, could not execute bond for such a purpose. The learned counsel therefore applied to this Court for a rule calling upon the Registrar to accept and approve the bond; that mode of proceeding being substituted, by the 43rd section of the 19th and 20th of Victoria, cap. 108, for the remedy by mandamus. - The Court granted a rule to show cause.

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merc

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Re: The Brompton, Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham Water Works Company
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2011, 16:44:08 »
A reservoir, which had recently been completed, burst from the North side, just after 4 in the morning, on Saturday, 9th August, 1862. The water poured out over the surrounding land and onto the Turnpike Road (Watling Street), several feet in depth. When full the reservoir could of held a million gallions of water, at the time of bursting the reservoir was almost full. The damage caused was estimated to be about £5000.

patmore

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Re: The Brompton, Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham Water Works Company
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2011, 11:58:59 »
Nice work Leofwine,lots of information there. Have you found anything on the other waterworks building just up beyond the Waggon at Hale on Capstone Road ie. what was/is its function?
                                                   James

Offline Leofwine

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Re: The Brompton, Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham Water Works Company
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2011, 19:12:54 »
Water supply in Brompton and Gillingham was always a problem due to the elevation of both settlements and the nature of the chalky subsoil, usually requiring deep wells to access it.   For the first century and a half of its existence the residents of Brompton relied on such wells for their water, with most houses having their own well, or one shared with a neighbour.

This all changed in 1856 when, during the construction of No. 2 basin in Chatham Dockyard, the contractors (Messrs J & C Rigby) cut through the main sping of the district. This not only flooded their work, it also caused the wells of Brompton to run dry, much to the consternation of its inhabitants. Harris (1923) gives a vivid description of what happened next:

The Naval Authorities came to their rescue; and at noon every day a stand pipe was fixed in the roadway near to the Government Reservoir, at the top of Barrack Hill, and the inhabitants came to it with every kind of vessel, capable of holding the precious liquid, and obtained their supply for the day. Pails, barrels, stone bottles, washtubs and even wash-stand jugs were put into requisition for the purpose, and the noon-tide gathering would have mad a picture worthy of Hogarth.

As Harris suggests, this noon-time water distribution must have caused quite a commotion as by this time Brompton contained of almost 500 houses. Obviously this situation could not continue indefinitely and so John Baird, landlord of the Two Sawyers in the High Street and late High Constable of Gillingham, called a meeting of the principal residents of the locality, including Cannon Daniel Cook, the vicar of Holy Trinity Church. The meeting took place in the parlour of the Two Sawyers and it was there decided to form the Brompton Water Works Company with John Baird as the Chairman, and to apply for an Act of Parliament for the same. The act was procured and the Brompton and Gillingham Water Company was registered on the 9th December 1856 with a capital of £7,500.

A well was commissioned and sunk below the original strata to supply the residents of Brompton with fresh water (presumably helping to drain the flooded basin too.) The company piped water into Brompton houses at a cost of 4 percent of the ratable value of the property (giving afigure of about 1s. 8d. to 2s. a quarter). Demand grew rapidly and by 1858 new sources in the Luton Valley were being tapped, with a pumping house being constructed in Luton. Soon the company was supplying the barracks, the hospital and the convict prison, and eventually street hydrants were supplied ‘capable of throwing water higher than a house.’ At this time water was being piped to the old village of Gillingham. At first there was only one outside tap for every four properties, but some years later each cottage was fitted with its own indoor tap, but no sink )presumably the resident must supply their own!)

The Luton Pumping Station, c.1860

(Photograph reproduced by permission of the Royal Engineers Museum www.re-museum.co.uk)
Larger version here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/22124479@N03/5390424627/

By 1860 plans were made to supply Chatham and in 1861 a water pillar, paid for by Brompton shopkeepers, supplied a cart that cleaned the streets. As more houses were built and the area supplied grew, so the demand increased, and to help counter this reservoirs were built at Star Mill Lane and water pumped into them from the Luton pumping station and its ‘immense’ reserves. Things did not always go as planned, and during the filling of one of these reservoirs, built in 1862, one of its sides collapsed and water flooded down Canterbury Street. Despite these minor setbacks the company continued to expand, eventually supplying Rochester as well, until by the early 20th century it had become ‘one of the most successful undertakings in the County.’

For many years no dividends were paid to the founders, but they could content themselves with ‘a pure supply of good wholesome water.’ This last phrase was no idle boast as tests carried out on it by Professor Clark of Aberdeen University showed the water was ‘first-class chalk water, free of organic matter and only had 16 degrees of hardness, most of which was lost on boiling.’  Eventually, as the company expanded and became successful, back dividends were paid, with interest, to the founders of the original Brompton Water Works Company. By the early 20th century the company had been re-named several times, eventually becoming The Brompton, Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham Water Works Company.

In a final, ironic, twist of fate in July 1902, shortly after John Baird’s death in 1900, his old pub, The Two Sawyers, which he had owned for about 70 years, and where the Brompton Water Company was founded, caught fire. At first the fire was small and could have easily been extinguished had there been a ready supply of water. However, the policy of the water company was, at that time, to turn off the water supply overnight. A message was sent urgently to have the water turned on, but for some reason there was a delay in this happening of over an hour. By the time the water supply was turned on the Two Sawyers was completely destroyed and it was all the Fire Brigade could do to stop the neighbouring buildings catching fire too. A note in the Chatham News following the incident gives a good indication of public reaction:

The destruction of the Two Sawyers Inn at Old Brompton by fire has given the district a profound shock. People tremble to think of what might have happened had the conflagration occurred at some other building where a household was larger and included children. It seems incredible, in the twentieth century, that it should be impossible to obtain water from the public mains for upwards of an hour – yet the story is quite literally true. Of course the mere shutting off of the supply during the night would not account for such a prolonged delay; there must have been a breakdown in the method of communication between the town and the waterworks. In the absence of full information, I will not cast blame upon the Water Company; but certainly the matter ought to be made the subject of an official enquiry.

It makes one wonder if John Baird had still been the owner, would the water supply have taken so long to turn on?



References
Baldwin, R. A. (1998) Gillingham Chronicles: A History of Gillingham, Kent. Baggins Book Bazaar: Kent
Crawshaw, James D. (1999) The History of Chatham Dockyard. Isaac Garford
Leeds, C.S. (1906) Chats About Gillingham. Parrett & Neves
Harris, E. (1923) Eastgate Series: History of Old Brompton. Edwin Harris & Son, Rochester
Chatham And Rochester News, Saturday 12th July 1902
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merc

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Great pics and info as always Numanfan :)

I'ld love a look around this place.

Does the pumping station pump water up the hill, and to the reservoirs near the Darland Banks at all ?

Offline karlostg

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Nice pics Numanfan, shows that the building really has been mucked about. I would go as far as saying they were different places, were it not for Darland Mill in the first photo  :)

Chatham_Girl85

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i'd say the two buildings in the then and now bit are the same building

Offline ellenkate

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What wonderful old photos - top hat times the 1850s !
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Offline numanfan

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The Brompton, Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham Water Works Company
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2010, 08:49:05 »
Situated along Capstone Road, Luton, it was completed in 1857
www.move2medway.co.uk - take the journey

 

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