Crich Heritage Partnership


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Domestic Water Supplies in Crich Parish 1893 to 1900

The following are extracts from the minutes of Crich Parish Council from the time it was formed to 1900. All the items relate to public water supplies, or as they are referred to in one minute, gratuitous water supplies. In the last decade of the nineteenth century, evidently most domestic water was obtained from wells, but exceptionally at least one reservoir had been constructed at Fritchley. Prior to 1894 responsibility for water supplies was in the hands of Belper Rural District Council within whose boundaries lay the Parish of Crich. You can compare the two maps on the site from 1884 and 1921 and see the marked difference in wells.

1884 map thumbprint
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thumbprint of 1921 map

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December 1894
Crich Parish Council held its first meeting.. In June 26th of the following year the Council proposed:
“That a water committee be formed to include the following gentleman for the various districts

  • Messsrs. Radford and Glossop for Fritchley,

  • Mr. John Sims for Crich Carr

  • Mr. Hopkinson for Wheatcroft

  • Mr. H.Leafe for Crich”

It was reported that control of the water be handed over to the Parish Council for one year. (presumably from Belper Rural District Council). A letter from the Clerk of the Rural district council received May 1896 confirms this:
”That for the period of one year all existing public cisterns, pumps, wells, reservoirs, conduits aqueducts and works used for the gratuitous supply of water to the inhabitants of the township of Crich be vested in and under the control of the Parish Council lawfully appointed for that township.”
At the December meeting of the council Mr. Wragg successfully applied to
“connect the water to his house, subject to the same conditions as at Fritchley viz. that a stop tap be put in and that Mr.Sims see the connection is right.”
(Unfortunately Mr. Wragg's address is not given so it is not possible to say if the proposed connection is to Fritchley reservoir or some other reservoir.)
June 1896
Re well on the Crich Common, it was reported that pollution found its way into this well during wet weather and the matter was reported to the Crich Water Committee; Messrs. Leafe and Dyson to find a remedy.
The supply of well water seems to have been dependent on prevailing weather conditions. Evidently in 1896 a wet Spring was followed by exceptionally dry weather, which led to rationing.

August 1896
Well in Roe's Lane - This matter was fully discussed.....It was proposed that John Roe be engaged for 2 or 3 days to clean out the well and sink a little deeper and make the approaches tidy and that Mr. Leafe give him instructions.
At the same meeting, the scarcity of water was discussed and it was proposed that 
“in consequence of the scarcity of water, the water committee be authorised to have a close time for pumps in dry weather if they think it desirable and that notice boards be fitted on the pumps cautioning persons against damaging the same and wasting water.”
At this time Bull Bridge fell within the boundary of Crich Parish. It appears that parishioners living in Bull Bridge had made representations to the Rural District Council in order to secure a better water supply. As the Parish was now responsible for water supplies the matter was placed in the hands of the Parish Council.

May 1897
The PC minutes record an item concerning Bull Bridge water supply. Mr.Lee, and Mr. Dyson with the Parish clerk were asked to:
“draw up a report to present to the District Council.”

The matter was discussed again at the July meeting and adjourned until a site meeting could be held at Fritchley reservoir. The site meeting was held on August 4th 1897 when an inspection revealed a 
“plentiful supply of water” It was resolved  “that a new connection with the main be made for the top tap at Fritchley with ¾ inch lead pipe and a  ‘push tap’; that the old well be filled up and pitched over and a gutter be provided for waste water also that the reservoir be cleaned out at the first opportunity.”
The members of the Council then proceeded to Bull Bridge and inspected the route which the proposed water supply for Bull Bridge would have to take. Evidently parishioners from the  ‘top end of town’ (Town End) had heard of the proposed Bull Bridge development and decided that they also had a good case for improvement of their water supplies.

August 1897
A deputation of Ratepayers from the top end of town waited upon the Council respecting their water supply and it was propose by Mr.H.Dyson and seconded by Mr.Leafe
“That in connection with the Bull Bridge water supply, we beg to point out to the Belper Rural District Council, that there are about 100 houses at the upper end of Crich, the majority of which are in a much worse condition in the matter of water supply than the houses at Bull Bridge and we consider that some steps ought to be taken to provide a more adequate supply of water to the houses referred to, for which a loan should be incurred so that payment may be spread over a number of years and the expenditure for the Bull Bridge supply should be included in the loan”
The proposition was carried unanimously.

September 1897
Mr..Lee the District councillor reported what took place at the District Council meeting at Belper, re water supply for the top of Crich. A sub-committee appointed by the Rural District Council resolved that:-
“If the Crich Parish Council have not before the next meeting of the RDC taken sufficient steps to provide a water supply for Bull Bridge, that the Council revoke the resolution of July 3rd. leaving the matter in their hands and they carry out the necessary work .”
It was decided that the Hon.Clerk should write to the Chairman of the RDC asking if he would meet the members of the PC at Crich before their next meeting to inspect a probable supply of water for the top end of Crich.

October 1897
Proposed by Messrs. W.Acraman and Leafe that the Crich Parish Council is prepared to carry out the resolution of the RDC re the BullBridge water supply and that we request the RDC to obtain a loan for the execution of the necessary work.
It was further proposed by Messrs. Dyson and Smith that the Council is of the opinion that a plentiful supply of water for the upper end of Crich can be obtained at or near Holywell and that the water when raised into a tank or reservoir would be available to supply the deficiency.
(It would appear that plans were being considered by the RDC for installing a mains water supply to the Parish and enquiries were being undertaken to inform these plans.)

April 1898
The Water Scheme of the RDC was considered and Mr.Lee and the Chairman (both members of the RDC) held that at present no particular scheme was contemplated by that Council, so the matter was deferred.
(During 1896 the Crich Parish Council had applied to the County Council to secure Urban District powers, unsuccessfully. The next entry in the Parish Minutes might suggest a hint of acrimony in the relationship between CPC and the RDC.)
The Hon. Clerk reported that a circular had been received from Dr. Barwise relative to the sources of water supply, and Mr.Glossop suggested that all gratuitous water supplies of the RDC in Crich be analysed at Somerset House in view of the approaching enquiry. Mr.Lee and Mr.Dyson considered it unnecessary and the question received no support.

May 1898
The Clerk to the Council seems to have had a bad day when he wrote the following minute of the business transacted at the May meeting of the Council.
The Chairman made a statement re Water question, explaining the continued scheme of the RDC for the Parishes of Dethick, Lee and Holloway, Crich and Wingfield. Mr.Smedley agreed to give the spring under certain conditions; the estimated cost to this Parish would be about £1200. After a lengthy discussion by the Council the question was left in abeyance for the present. The water supply for Bull Bridge was also mentioned and Mr.Lee RDC gave the Council some information.
Unfortunately the content of the Chairman‘s statement is not reported. How Mr Smedley's spring fits in to any proposed scheme or where it was located is not described; nor is it crystal clear what the cost to the Parish relates to. Only in 1899 will these issues become clearer.

May 1899
While the RDC were formulating their plans for designing and installing a mains water supply for Crich and adjacent parishes, life at the taps and wells went on.
Mr.Dyson said that a self stopping tap was wanted at the Fritchley Green water pipe and proposed it be done. Mr. Simms stated that the tap at Crich Carr had been repaired.
Mr. Dyson had been told that the top of the well at Plaistow Green had fallen in and that it was the only pure water in the immediate locality and required putting in order,

June 1899
The RDC has at last devised a scheme to provide water for Crich, Holloway, South Wingfield and Pentrich. These proposals were contained in a circular which was read to the Parish Council by the Chairman Mr. Sam Bower at the June meeting of the Council. Mr. Bower had also prepared detailed costs of the scheme on the basis of rateable value and population. There follows a photocopy of the page of the minutes containing Mr.Bower's calculations. After this tour de force the episode ended rather lamely.

Discussion followed the reading of these statistics but as both the RDC councillors were absent Mr.Dyson proposed and Mr.Else seconded:
“that the question be adjourned until such time as this Council know definitely what the RDC really proposed doing.”
This less than enthusiastic response becomes clearer in the light of subsequent events. For at least the reason of costs the Parish Councillors did not approve of the RDC scheme. We now find them at Ambergate meeting Mr.H.Taylor, Engineer

October 1899
Minutes of Parish Council meeting held at Ambergate on Oct.10th., specially convened to meet Mr.H.Taylor Engineer to discuss the proposed water scheme of the RDC. It was unanimously resolved on the proposition of Mr. Dyson and seconded by Mr.R.Dawes 
“that we engage Mr. W.H.Taylor to gauge the water supply of the Parish, to prepare estimates of evidence and do any other necessary work to oppose the Water Scheme of the District Council, at a cost of three guineas per day and 3rd. class rail fare to hold the expenses to total fee and expenses not to exceed Twenty Five pounds, unless exceptional circumstances arise which will be dealt with on their merits.”
In August of 1900 the PC were censured by the Local Government Board for exceeding their power by spending money for this purpose

November 1899
Crich Parish Council clearly wished to propose a scheme alternative to that proposed by the RDC and to put this forward to the Local Government Enquiry which was to be set up to investigate the RDC scheme. The somewhat clandestine nature of the proceedings might be indicated by the fact that the PC met at Mr. Else's house.
November 15th.1899: The business was to meet Mr.H.Taylor Engineer to discuss the water scheme for Crich, to be submitted to the inspector at the forthcoming Local Government enquiry.
It was stated by Mr. Taylor that the spring under Benthill yielded 25 gallons per minute or 3 gallons in 7&4/5th. seconds. He also suggested that a borehole should be made down to the level of the grit-stone at that place in case the above spring failed in dry seasons. The scheme generally provided for a large supply cistern to duplicate engines to pump the water up to a position at the Cliff where four mains would be laid down as far as Bull Bridge. The total cost to be in round figures, about £4,300. There were no resolutions passed or proposed.
We note that this figure is about £1,000 cheaper than Crich's estimated contribution to the proposed RDC scheme. A reference in a subsequent minute to a letter received from the Local Government Board suggests that the PC had submitted this proposal to the Enquiry.
Parish Council minutes do not record the outcome of the enquiry, but a subsequent minute referring to the laying down of a water main to the Hat Factory suggests that the RDC scheme received the blessing of the Inspector. Note Fritchley and Bull Bridge seem to have been excluded from this scheme. Whilst mains water replaced many, but by no means all, wells as the source of domestic water it cannot be assumed that houses had their own water supply. Communal taps replaced wells.

© Jim Eggleston, July 2001.