ID: PH01_PMP / Elaine Barker

TitlePeldon Village Pump
AbstractPeldon Village Pump

The remains of the village pump as it is today (2019)

We still have the fly wheel part of Peldon's village pump visible near the village sign next to The Plough on Lower Road. For many years the pump supplied Peldon and Wigborough residents with clean water and served as a meeting place for villagers.

It stands on what was sometimes referred to as Plough Green, but is no longer in the exact spot it used to occupy. When The Glebe was developed and the bungalows built in the early 1970s, the pump was moved and the well filled in to make way for a new access road.

In Essex and the Industrial Revolution John Booker writes

In the east of the county there are three pumps, none identical with another, but all with large iron wheels in place of the more usual handles. These are at Goldhanger, Peldon and Steeple.

The Essex County Standard of 25th April 1908, gives a record of the local water supply at the beginning of the twentieth century.

In Peldon they have a deep well drawing water from the chalk, and this supplies water to a population of a large area. The cost of sinking the boring was covered by public subscription and the pumping machinery was kept in order at the people's expense.... In Wigborough they depend on their rain water butts and on ponds.

Kay Gilmour in Peldon in Essex Village Over the Marshes wrote that the well was sunk in 1900 but there is evidence the pump was functioning long before that.

The earliest reference to the existence of the pump comes in the record of Peldon's history Some Record of The Parish of Peldon 1867 ERO D/P 287/28/6 begun by The Reverend C.R. Harrison when he took up the incumbency in 1867.

In his opening pages he refers to the wasteland, adjoining The Glebe near the Pump. He writes it is commonly supposed this wasteland was part of the Rectory Manor and that The Plough public house was built on it. Proof that there was already a pump in 1867, and it was sited near where it is today.

In 1884 in the vestry minutes for St Mary's Church, Peldon there is a list of Subscribers for the repair of the parish pump. There are five pages of subscribers, parishioners from all walks of life. The amount raised was £61 19s 11d.

This overhaul of the village pump was probably in answer to the Public Health (Water) Act of 1878 where every rural sanitary authority had to provide every household within a reasonable distance... with an available supply of wholesome water sufficient for the consumption and use for domestic purposes of the inmates of the house.

Any houses built - or rebuilt- following the act, which came into force on 25th March 1879 had to have a certificate from the sanitary authority to certify there was this provision.

Elderly Peldon resident, Golden Simpson, who was on the Parish Council informed his colleagues that the unusual flywheel pump had in fact replaced an older more traditional design.

Mr Golden Simpson stated that the present wheel pump had been in use since 1883, the previous one having been worked with a handle Essex County Standard 13.3.1931

We can only surmise as to the date the previous pump was installed - and was it a wooden or a cast iron pump?

Just over ten years after the fly wheel pump was installed, at a meeting of the newly formed Parish Council, held in the schoolroom:

It was the unanimous opinion of the Meeting that the Parish Council take over the Parish water pump Parish Records 29th March 1895

Between then and the beginning of WW2 there are regular payments by the Parish Council towards maintenance and repair of the pump and the ongoing problem with surface water getting into the well.

In 1916 the parish council have a discussion concerning:
Great Wigborough residents using water from the pump, if this continued a charge would have to be made and the clerk was requested to write to Messrs Bate, Horten and Shirley pointing out that if they continued taking the water they would have to pay a sum yearly to be fixed by the Council Parish Records 17 April 1916

It was decided that 10 shillings per annum would be charged to those outside the Parish who used the water. Parish Records 16 February 1917

In 1918 it was reported the money was forthcoming from Great Wigborough.

In 1931, by which time mains water had been supplied to the village, the Parish Council voted on whether to continue maintaining the pump. At the March meeting, due to the heavy expenses involving the pump, there were insufficient funds to pay the Clerk's salary and this no doubt raised the question of whether to retain a working Parish Pump.

... a vote on the question of keeping the parish pump in condition after the completion of the waterworks scheme. A unanimous vote in favour of retaining it was recorded. The wheel pump is an object of great interest to visitors in the summer, and of all local postcard views is the one in greatest demand. It was felt that it would be a mistake to remove so picturesque a landmark Essex County Standard 13.3.1931

During WW2, in Peldon's Parish Minutes of 1st October 1940 it is reported:

The clerk to obtain estimate to put Parish Pump in working order to ensure a reserve water supply, fire fighting party formed.

The pump remained a focal point of the community and in WW2 as part of War Weapons week:

The first item in the official programme will be a church parade on the Sunday morning with a service at the Parish Church but this will be preceded by an informal gathering around the village pump on the Saturday evening. Essex County Standard 28.6.1941

In 1942 the Parish Council appealed to the Rural District Council for help in repairing the pump. The Reverend Wilson quoted the Medical Officer's findings that the water from the pump was not fit to drink but must be boiled whereupon it was agreed to lock the pump.

However, 5,000 - 6,000 gallons of water were pumped from the water mains into the well to be available in the event of an emergency.

Kay Gilmour relates

Many residents today (1955) recall the time when their husbands had to fetch every drop of water from the well in buckets, on chains suspended from wooden halters across their shoulders. And as late as 1940 the inhabitants of Sampsons could be found any day wending their way along the mile long lane to the pump outside The Plough Inn, pulling after them a strange galvanised contraption - a water butt on wheels. They also recall the pond water on which they grew up and which appears to have had no deleterious effect.

In stories of villagers' lives, memories of collecting water from the village pump feature as in this piece from the parish magazine about Harry Ponder.

In 1906 he married Mabel Appleby, and they came to Hillside Cottages. .... The lanes were very dusty, and the new roads were a great improvement but best of all was when they brought water to Peldon. Until then he used to carry water up from the village pump (outside The Plough) in buckets.

In Peldon and Wigborough's Parish News March 1983 Elsie Ponder reminisced

My husband and I came to live near The Rose in 1921 where I still live now. The cottage had no water or electricity then. For lighting we had oil lamps. Our washing water we fetched from a nearby pond, but drinking water had to be carried from the pump by The Plough. The iron pump wheel was very heavy to turn but there were usually village boys about, willing to lend a hand. You can imagine that water was very precious and was carefully used. What excitement there was when at last we had the 'mains' and a tap outside the back door!'

The pump and the village street about 1910, looking towards Mersea

Elaine Barker
Peldon History Project

AuthorElaine Barker
SourceMersea Museum
Related Images:
 Peldon Village Pump, by the Plough. It is not in its original position and the actual pump has been removed.  PH01_PMP_001
ImageID:   PH01_PMP_001
Title: Peldon Village Pump, by the Plough. It is not in its original position and the actual pump has been removed.
Date:6 July 2019
Source:Peldon History Project / Elaine Barker