Water for Grewelthorpe

Drinking water for Grewelthorpe
Up to the late 1890’s Grewelthorpe people had to rely on natural springs for their drinking water.

There are many springs in the area and there was a pump at the bottom of CROSSHILLS. There is still a wet spot there to this day.
This early photo shows the pump on Crosshills
Grewelthorpe had two ponds at this time, one in the position of the present pond and the other in front of the bungalows at the Ripon end of the village where there is a grassy area now.

This photo taken about 1920 shows the two ponds, one in the foreground and the other in the ponds present positionThe problem of finding a water supply for the village was on the agenda of the very first Parish Council meeting in 1894.
There had been a meeting in Kirkby Malzeard in 1894 when the inspector of the local governing board held an inquiry with reference to an application by the Sanitary authority of the rural Sanitary District of Ripon Union for sanction to borrow £2,300 for works of water supply to Kirkby Malzeard and Grewelthorpe.
It was reported that Grewelthorpe had an area of 4,851 the population being 414 the rateable value of £3921. There were 110 houses. The scheme was to take water from Kexmoor, 2.5 miles from K.Malzeard. Convey it by gravitation in 3inch pipes to Kirkby and then to Grewelthorpe. It was admitted that water was available nearer to Grewelthorpe but the owner would not allow it to be taken. The medical officer of health reported there had been a need for a good wholesome supply of water to these 2 villages for the past 20 years. The present supply was mostly supplied from local shallow wells, often near to middens, which meant that most of them were foul and unfit for domestic use. There had been frequent outbreaks of fever in both villages. The death rate in Kirkby between 1837 and 1886 averaged 24 per 1000 per annum. This abnormal high rate was attributed to impure water. An attempt had been made in 1886 to get a better supply of water but it had failed. There had been another outbreak of fever in 1894. It was estimated that the supply from Kexmoor would be adequate for both villages.
It was stated that there were other schemes available and the meeting passed resolutions to oppose this scheme.
Various local residents were approached to see if they would allow their Springs to be tapped into.
On January 7th 1895 the Parish Council wrote to the Bishop of Truro as he was the landlord of The Hutts a large manorial house on Hutts Lane.

Dear Sir, In consideration of a resolution moved by the rural sanitary authority that a supply of water must be provided for the village of Grewelthorpe. The Councillors of the aforesaid Parish, at a meeting on the 7th inst. beg to be allowed to make petition to your Lordship for a supply from a spring at The Hutts.Hoping your Lordship will give us a favourable reply seeing we are unable to fund any other likely source attainable.We are my Lord, Yours faithfully,Thomas Richmond,
Chairman of the Council.
NB From the Spring by the side of the 3rd gate from Hutts Lane Top adjoining the lawn tennis ground. A reply was soon received from Frank Gott the agent for the Bishop of Truro, 3 East Parade, Leeds.
Jan. 10th 1895.
Dear Sir, Re. Water Supply I am obliged for yours of the 7th inst.The Spring you allude to is a valuable one for the purpose of water supply to The Hutts in a dry Summer as that of 1893 when it was our only source of good drinking water. Moreover I should not have thought it a large enough Spring to supply Grewelthorpe. Have you carefully considered the question as to its being of sufficient capacity for your water supply.Nothing but a good offer from Grewelthorpe could tempt us to part with a Spring whose supply can be of such value to us.Hoping that you may be able to obtain a supply from a less costly source.
I am your faithfully,
Frank Gott.
Reply from the Parish Council dated 22nd January 1895

Dear Sir, Re Grewelthorpe Water Supply. I am directed by the Council of Grewelthorpe to say they are not in a position to give more than £3 per year, subject to the approval of the Local Government Board, for a term of 99 years, seeing the combined source for Kirkby and Grewelthorpe was £6 a year this being £3 for each township, the water committee for Grewelthorpe objected to be joined with Kirkby Malzeard on the grounds of there being some doubt of the source being sufficient for the two townships. In this way the Local Government Board allowed the matter to stand over for 3 months so that we might find a sufficient and separate supply but not at an extra cost.
Therefore you will see that the Council is not in a position to give a great price for the source not only as at the present moment the rural depression and scarcity of work for the Cottagers, they have more than enough to do to pay their Cottage rents and local rates.The water supply being chiefly for the Cottagers, seeing at the moment most of them have to pay an annual fee for their supply from a private source.Therefore the Council hope that you will take a very lenient view of this matter seeing the expense of the excavation and piping will fall heavy enough upon the Tenantry and ratepayers especially in these very trying times.
Hoping you will give the Council a favourable reply.
Yours faithfully,
J.Leathley [Clerk to the Council]
N.B.Population in village of Kirkby Malzeard – 500. Population in Grewelthorpe 250.
This heartfelt plea did not touch the heart strings of the faraway Bishop of Truro and his agent Mr Gott soon replied:-

Dear Sir, Re. Grewelthorpe Water Supply.
We are obliged for yours of the 22nd inst. but regret that we cannot recommend the Bishop to lessen his water supply for such a small sum per annum. Viz £3-0-0.
Yours faithfully,

At a meeting of the Parish Council on 4th Feb. 1895 it was resolved to write to the Bishop again but unfortunately we have no copy of the letter or the reply.
In Feb 1895 the District Council gave the Parish Council 3 months to find a supply. Mr. Peter Lofthouse went to the District Council meeting in Ripon and told them that they were very hopeful of finding a supply within the time.
At the Parish Council meeting on 27th February 1895 The Chairman Mr. Thomas Richmond vacated the chair in favour of the Vice Chairman, Mr. William Metcalfe, and made the Council the following offer. a supply of water not to exceed such a quantity as could be supplied by a pipe of the internal diameter of 2” from the Spring in the paddock behind Bramley Cottage, on a lease for 99 years at an annual rent of £10 , the water to be conveyed on to the road behind the piggeries in the paddock, the sanction of the tenant being first obtained and that compensation be made to the owner and tenants for surface and other damages at all times. After much discussion it was proposed by Mr. James Bulmer, seconded by Mr. James Coldbeck and carried, Mr. Hutton abstained, that Mr Richmond’s offer be accepted except that the rent be £9 per year, to which Mr. Richmond consented. The tank not to exceed five feet square, that Messrs. Calvert & Son communicate with the Local Government Board & Mr. Highley, and at once prepare a draft lease. If the engineers require the tank of a larger size then the rent would be £10 per annum. However one month after this meeting the above offer was rescinded because the Proprietor of Bramley Cottage had made such alterations to the agreement that the Parish Council would not agree to it. An offer was then made by Mrs. Thomas Richmond and her sisters, of water from a Spring at Spring House, Hutts Lane. This was agreed to and it was called the Spring House Water Scheme.
In 1896 a report was made at a meeting of the Rural District Council in which Mr Johnson the engineer for the Grewelthorpe Water supply Scheme said he had succeeded in gaining a flow of water which filled the 3inch inlet pipe. The collecting pipe was laid in the gravel bed, and the water in the reservoir rose higher than anticipated, the effect would be to slightly increase the storage. In a letter he said that he considered the works at Kirkby Malzeard and Grewelthorpe had been creditable executed by the contractors. The whole of the work had been completed. It was suggested that persons laying pipes alongside the road which belonged to the Council should pay a nominal sum to the council.Grewelthorpe continued to have problems with water, not just for drinking, but the pond, the drains, the flooding etc.
In 1897 the first mention was made about draining the low pond, this was the smaller of the two ponds.

In 1898 The Council Medical Officer for health gave a report on the state of the drainage in Grewelthorpe.
He said that the main drains are defective in construction, in size and in levels.
The branch drains from houses and back yards are very unsatisfactory.
The mode of disposal of sewage is injurious to health.
He found that 4 cottages at the East end of the village had no drains and threw their slops into the street.
He said that these houses had no back doors and so had poor ventilation.
Three cottages drain into the low pond. This pond is close to several dwellings and in hot conditions it smells.
The large pond sometimes overflows into the low pond. Near to it are 3 cottages without drains.
The large pond receives most of the sewage of the village.
The drains carrying the sewage were inferior and in wet weather, when the pond reaches a certain height, they would block and sometimes the sewage would run into the houses.
To the West of the village there are 6 houses without drains.
The Hackfall end of the village is 30 feet lower than the rest of the village and the sewage of the 9 houses here goes straight into a stream which runs into the Hackfall and the river Ure. He thought this unsatisfactory. This paints a very poor picture of the village.
Some of the Councillors present spoke up in defence of the village.
Mr Lofthouse said most people used cess pools for their sewage. He also maintained that Grewelthorpe was a clean and sweet place to live.
Mr Harland feared that raising the rates would frighten people away from the village.
Mr Spence reported that according to one of the oldest residents, there had never been an incidence of epidemic like the one last year, and that had been imported into the village.
The Councillors agreed to form a committee which would meet with the District Councillor and try to come up with a scheme to improve the drains in the village.

In 1898 the Parish Council resolved that the District Council should drain the Low Pond at their own expense. This had not been done by 1900 because Mr. Hutton complained to the Parish Council that the excess surface water and overflow from water fountains had caused the Low Pond to rise and was doing injury to his property.

This photo shows the filled in area where the low pond was. The Parish Council had already suggested that that drains be installed to take away the overflow from the standpipe in the village into the main drain. In 1898 they wanted to connect a sanitary pipe with the main drain and extend this main drain to the outlet of the drain which led into the top pond. The Parish Council would pay for this out of local ratesIn 1900 the accounts of the Grewelthorpe Water Supply were kept by Mr. J.W.Hall. In this year it was pointed out that Mr. Ellis who had a farm in Grewelthorpe should pay extra for the water he used for his stock.
In December 1900 the village agreed to the Leeds & Harrogate Water scheme.
In June 1901 a meeting of ratepayers of Grewelthorpe discussed the proposed Grewelthorpe Drainage Scheme but no-one voted in favour of it. It was agreed to form a committee from members of Ripon District Council, Grewelthorpe Parish Council, Mr. J. Spence the Mayor of Ripon, Mr. J. Hutton and Mr. R.H.Taylor.
They would try to deal with the drainage problem.In 1904 Complaints were made about the method of paying for water. It was felt to be unfair because some people were using more water than they were paying for. A commission was appointed to go around the village and find out who was using water and in what way. They had to report back to the Parish Council. The commissioners were Messrs. W.Thompson, J.E.Simpson & R.H.Taylor. In April 1905 there was outrage in the village by a report in the press that the Waterworks clerk, Mr. Hall, had applied for an advance of £6 on top of the £4 he already received from the two Parishes, Grewelthorpe and Kirkby Malzeard. A petition was sent to the Rural District Council asking them to allow Grewelthorpe to have a man appointed by the village to look after the water and interests of the Parish. As Mr. Hall was still in office in 1907 this request was obviously refused.In September 1905 Grewelthorpe Parish Council wrote to the Clerk of Ripon RDC.

Dear Sir, In answer to your letter to the above PC re Harrogate Water Act 1901. I am instructed by them to say that three of the landowners at Carlsmoor have made complaints as to the scarcity of water which they consider has been caused by the cutting made by Harrogate Corporation Waterworks, as the Springs have not been known to fail before now.It was proposed by Mr. J. Crabtree and seconded by Mr. W. Thompson and carried that the Harrogate Corporation be asked to leave a supply of water free of cost to the persons aggrieved thereby.The landowners referred to are:- Mr. Thomas Richmond, Mr. W.Umpleby & Mr. Leonard Burrill.

All the water problems seemed to take a backseat in the village for the duration of the war.
In August 1919 the village pond was almost dry and it was thought desirable that something be done to clean out the sediment. The clerk wrote to the District Council to ask whose duty it was to clean out the pond. The District Council replied that the Parish Council alone was responsible.The PC said that they did not agree. They stated that on previous occasions the RRDC had cleaned out part of the pond, they had reduced the area and lowered the water by draining which no doubt had caused the threatened nuisance now, also that surface water from the village street washed a deal of sand and mud into to pond and caused it to silt up.
There is now a 13 year gap in the Parish Council records about water problems in Grewelthorpe. Until in 1932 Mr. George Thirkill the local joiner and handyman was asked to fix the leaking public water taps. He charged £4-9-6d for this work. [£4-50p]In 1936 Mr. Hawnby the Chief Fire Officer in Ripon addressed the Parish Council with regard to allowing the Ripon Fire Brigade to use the Grewelthorpe pond. The PC agreed.

In 1937 it was reported in the local paper that because of the dry weather there was a serious shortage of water in the village which necessitated cutting off the water supply every night from 9-30p.m. until 6-30a.m.

In March 1942 The Parish Clerk was instructed to write to the Rural Disrict Council about the water shortage in the village. Obviously no steps were taken because in May 1946 it was stated that the water supply had reached a critical stage. The PC wrote to RDC to ask them to act with some urgency before the Summer when the farmers would be in danger. In May 1952 the Public water tap opposite the Post Office was running water to waste and the RDC was asked to remove it as it was no longer needed for the three nearby cottages.
In June 1955 Grewelthorpe started to complain about the poor quality of the water supply. These complaints were to rumble on for the next 32 years.
In September 1967 two aspects of the water supply to the Southern end of the village were discussed. The supply from The Crown Inn towards the South had failed several times. It was reported that this was because of a breakdown of the electrically driven pump whenever there was an electricity cut. Also the very poor water pressure in most houses every day before 9-30a.m. provoked much heated discussion. It was said that all residents paid their water rates and it was inconceivable that the standard of the two water services which supplied the village should be so different. Whilst it was realised that the electricity cuts were beyond the control of the Water Board residents felt that it was up to the Water Board to see that the pump continued to function by an alternative source of power.At the same time residents of Highfield and The Mount complained about the foul smell from the sewage works. They were told that work was scheduled to be done at the completion of the Laverton scheme. But a year later in September 1968 Group Captain Hodgson of Highfield suggested that the Parish Council chairman should visit the manager of the Claro Water Board to complain about the sewage works. In September 1968 it was reported that the old iron pipe from Kexmoor Spring had been replaced with a plastic one. It was expected that the water supply to both Kirkby Malzeard and Grewelthorpe would improve. In addition a new pump was to be installed at the Kirkby Malzeard borehole to give added improvement to the supply.
September 1969 Mr. Bain of Crosshills complained of dirty defective water. The Parish Council were told that the sewage works had been cleaned and was in good order.
On 5th November 1969 a Parish Meeting was held to discuss the water supply. The Parish Council and 34 ratepayers attended. A letter from Mr. Pooley of the Claro Water Board dated October 1969 followed complaints from the PC.

Dear Madam. The complaints would appear to be due to 2 different causes, firstly, brown staining which seems to be due to discolouration of the Spring Water, and secondly, furring up in kettles which is due to the use of harder borehole water.I have arranged frequent washing out of the mains in order to remove discolouration. In regard to this it is the Boards intention to ultimately discontinue the Spring supply, which is subject to contamination, and increase the quantity taken from the Kirkby Malzeard borehole. This however will give rise to the deposition of scale under certain heating conditions. There are several commercial products which are available for the removal of scale due to hard water.

The meeting raised many complaints from residents. Quite often the water has an objectionable smell. It is distasteful and people are afraid to drink it. At times dirt can be seen in the water. Often the water is brown in colour and washbasins, baths and toilet basins are stained. Domestos does not remove the stains and the glazed surfaces are being damaged. Heating elements in electric kettles become badly encrusted which makes them less efficient and also noisy. The insides of kettles become coated with a grey slimy substance and they look objectionable. The boiling water becomes milky in colour and questions have arisen as to whether it is harmful. Far greater quantities of washing powder have now to be used and even then the wash results are not satisfactory. New articles in the wash have become stained and badly marked.# The water is unsuitable for steam irons. It is thought that damage is being done to boilers and heating systems.Councillor Richmond said that Grewelthorpe water came from three sources. The Kirkby Malzeard borehole, Bramley and Kexmoor. Reference was repeatedly made to the good quality of Bramley water.The Water Board assured the village that the supply would improve when the Kexmoor pipeline was completed. It was resolved that the Claro Water Board be informed of the views of Grewelthorpe people. A letter was sent pointing out that Residents are gravely concerned about the deterioration of the village water supply. They do not believe that any customer of the Water Board can reasonable be expected to accept and pay for the poor quality water now supplied, and continue with the inconveniences which have arisen. They are very strongly of the view that immediate steps should be taken by the Water Board to improve the village water supply.Sir Charles Dalton of The Hutts suggested a member of the Water Board be asked to attend the next Parish Council meeting.12th November 1969.
A reply received from Mr. Pooley of the Water Board. He said that exhaustive tests were being carried out in the area and were not yet completed. He hoped to attend the next PC meeting.
Public Village Meeting held in February 1970 to discuss the water problem. Present. 3 Parish Councillors, 15 ratepayers and 2 representatives from Claro Water Board.
The list of complaints from November 1969 was repeated and those present said that nothing had changed.The main points that came to light in the question & answer period were:-
In the Boards view the changes made to the water supply were necessary because the Bramley supply was proving to be inadequate. Analytical tests had revealed that the Bramley water was slightly contaminated and was below the desired standard. That the Kirkby Malzeard borehole water was of better quality than the Bramley water.# That whilst the borehole water was hard water and caused kettles to fur up it was in no way detrimental from a health point of view and could in fact be overcome by the use of one of the commercial aids.# That analysis of the 6 samples taken from householders in the village had not led to the discovery of anything harmful or anything that would cause the discolouration complained of. That to continue with the Bramley water would necessitate the use of chlorine and this would probably cause further complaints from the users. That as to whether use could be made of the surplus Spring water was a matter to be raised with the Water Board. That the Boards investigations were continuing and that samples of distasteful water and discoloured water would be welcomed for testing purposes. That with the full supply coming from the Borehole it was difficult to say why and how the discolouration occurred, but pipe testing would continue to try and resolve the problem. It was unanimously resolved that. The Claro Water Board be thanked for attending the meeting and for their work in trying to improve the supply. That the attention of CWB again be drawn to the list of complaints in the hope that they will not relax in their efforts to improve the water supply. In order to assist the Board, samples of water will be obtained as and when they show discolouration or dirt or smell or distaste.Things did not immediately improve in March 1970 it was noted that villagers were bringing water into the village from away, the Claro Water board men working in the village brought water for tea with them and the Bramley children were bringing drinking water to school in bottles.Whilst it was appreciated that the Water Board men were working hard to improve the supply they seemed to be making little headway.The water had a foul and unusual smell and was distasteful, sand and dirt had got into hot water systems and discolouration was still evident. It was agreed to seek the aid of the press and TV and use every pressure available to remedy the situation.
As 1970 progressed more and more complaints were made to the Parish Council about the poor water. And on top of this there were now concerns about the condition of the pond.
In July 1970 it was suggested that the army be approached about cleaning out the pond.
In September a special meeting was called to discuss this work. It was reported that the work would not cost more than £100 and this would include insurance.Ways of raising money was discussed including grants, raising it with a second rate and using charity money. It was agreed to raise most of the money [£60] with a charge on the rates and the Rural District Council and the County Council would be asked to make up the rest. It was suggested that the sludge be put in the quarry at the Northern end of the village. But the Yorkshire Ouse river board would have to be asked if there would be any seepage into the river. Mr Wood was asked if he had any objections to the army going through his field to reach the top end of the pond. He said he would not object if no other way were possible. In December 1970 the Army gave an estimate of £89 to do the work, but this may change once the work had started, and indeed it did by July 1971 the estimate was increased to £150.
Part of the pond cleaning work was done by the army under Major Tuck but they hadn’t been able to finish the job. He had referred it to Northern Command. Nurse Inchboard a much respected member of the community expressed her concerns about the deep holes in the pond base which would be very dangerous if filled with slurry, they should be filled with hardcore.
Others expressed concern about the removal of clay from the bottom as the water would seep away. This fear was still being voiced many years later when in hot Summers the pond dried up. At this time Mrs. Phyllis Lofthouse suggested that an island be made in the pond and a weeping willow be planted on it. The island is still there to this day.
Work was slow and was still ongoing in July 1971 when there was a fatal accident to a young boy involving an army vehicle.The army did a detailed survey of the pond and they reported that it was 4ft 6inches at its deepest point.
In November 1971 a bullock fell in and the PC wrote to the army and asked them to finish the work as quickly as possible. But in fact it was November 1972 before the army stopped work, and there was disappointment that they had not done the landscaping work as expected. The Rural District Council gave a grant of £125 towards the costs.Mrs Annatt from Highfield planted bulbs and there were plans to kerb the edges.
Meanwhile the problems with the drinking water continued, in March 1971 the Water Board had said that the Bramley water was not very good to drink but the village would have to get its water from there and from Kexmoor. It was said that the Bramley water hadn’t done any harm over the years but it was agreed that there was too much chlorination. In 1972 the Claro Water Board said they could do nothing further to improve the water.In March 1974 it was thought that there would be little chance of encouraging wildlife to the pond because of the lack of food. In 1975 Miss Inchboard again was worried that any ducks would not survive the winter. But by Winter 1979 there were 60 ducks and the RSPB were contacted for advice on how to keep the numbers down.
Now that the pond and its ducks seemed to be flourishing thoughts turned back again to the state of the drinking water, complaints continued to be made analysis was done, representatives came to the village to listen and advise.
In November 1981 another special meeting was held. Various ideas were put forward,The water could be treated , this would involve the erection of a building and storage space.
Water from a borehole at Galphay Lane could be mixed with water from Lumley Moor reservoir.
Water could be pumped from Mickley and mixed with water from Thornton Stewart reservoir.
The water board promised to monitor and flush out the system regularly.
These meetings and complaints from villagers went on until 1986 when at last the village was connected to a supply from a new large treatment plant in Harrogate.
At last in March 1987 the Parish Clerk was able to record in the Parish Council minutes that at last a decent supply of drinking water was available in the village. It had taken 93 years from when the PC first vowed to find a supply for Grewelthorpe.
The drinking water problems had been sorted but the village continued to have trouble with the pond and with flooding. Twice the village pond ran dry during hot Summers in 1991 and 1996. On both occasions the opportunity was taken to remove the silt and clean out the rubbish and stones.
The island was made bigger, and various planting schemes undertaken.
Eventually due to the foresight of Keith [Geordie] Robson who lived at Lake Side, a borehole was sunk with an electric pump so that at the first indication of a drop in the water level the water can be topped up from an underground Spring. This seems to have worked very well. The large number of ducks has always been a problem, they pollute the water and eat the plants. Twice efforts have been made to move some of them elsewhere, but the most recent attempt failed because the ducks cannot be tempted away, they are too well fed by well meaning visitors.
Now the village has a Pond Management committee who work with the backing of the Parish Council to look after the pond and keep it healthy.The flooding problems in the village came to a head when the Wapping end of the village was flooded on two occasions, and houses were inundated. The Parish Council and the North Yorks County Council Highways division instigated an inspection and subsequent repair of the under road gully from Naegill to the Hackfall. Also they installed kerbing along the road edges to keep the water on the road and out of the fields and so out of the houses. This new system has yet to be severely tested but so far it appears to have worked.
So Grewelthorpe seems to have got on top of its water problems for now, but who knows what the future may hold.
This article has been compiled by Barbara Bradley using Parish Council minutes and documents. If you have any comments to make or information to add