Retro: Supplying water to Thrapston

The water pump in Market Place, Thrapston, in 1910
The water pump in Market Place, Thrapston, in 1910
Share this article

It’s taken for granted today, but less than 100 years ago the supply of clean water was hit-and-miss.

This is an extract from an article by Cyril Diamond from Strapetona, the magazine of Thrapston & District Historical Society.

“Even before the formation of the parish council in 1894 the Local Government Board had reported that the entire supply of water for Thrapston consisted of four public wells and about 70 private ones, and that a large proportion of the water was unfit for drinking.

In 1909, Dr Elliott, of Oundle, analysed water from the town and he concluded that little had changed since the 1894 report, except that the town pump in Market Place and its well, which had been condemned at that time, had been thoroughly cleaned out.

In 1914, the Market Place well had a bad report again and the parish council and Thrapston Rural Council agreed it was time to have a proper piped supply.

Engineers made a survey and found that there was no adequate supply in the parish and so recommended a well to be sunk in the gravels of the Nene Valley.

The First World War resulted in there being no progress until another report in 1923 which confirmed the need for a new scheme.

Drayton Estate offered a supply from its well which was already supplying piped water to Islip.

The parish council considered the Islip offer and also a site in Woodford parish.

It concluded the Woodford site was the more economical and this scheme was put forward to a meeting of ratepayers in the Temperance Hall on February 2, 1926.

The cost of the scheme was £8,400 and it was approved by 75 votes to six.

Following objections, on the grounds of cost and an existing plentiful supply of water from springs in the town, a local inquiry was held at the Temperance Hall on July 7 the same year.

A preliminary trial was agreed which proved to be satisfactory, both as regards quantity and quality.

The scheme was then implemented fully.

Supply was estimated at 50,000 gallons per day, pumped into a reservoir at the highest point of Huntingdon Road to serve all parts of the parish.

Constructed of reinforced concrete, it was roofed over and covered with earth.

The supply was completed towards the end of 1929, 35 years after that initial report.”

Email or visit for more information about the society.