A Village water supply

Central Pool showing part of the route of the water supply system

A Brief History

1809 Michael Nicholson purchases Pool Low Mill (Pool paper Mill) from Milthorp family.

1858 Death of Michael Nicholson. **It would appear he, or the Milthorp’s, laid down the water supply system as it was shown in the will of Michael Nicholson.

1903 At the sale of Michael Nicholson’s property, Alfred Whitehead purchases, from the Milthorp Estate, both Bryn Afon (Bank House) and The White House, on Old Pool Bank which includes the water works. Income from water works disclosed at the time as £19.1s.6d.

1922 Amy Elderhorst and Gertrude Elizabeth inherit water works on death of their father Alfred Whitehead.

1935 Malcolm Hill purchases White House, Old Pool Bank which includes water works.

1944 Wharfedale Rural District Council are “given” water works by Malcolm Hill.

1951 Pool-in-Wharfedale Waterworks Co. Ltd. is registered. Householders subsequently purchase shares at £2 per share. In 1972 the administrative address was Westgate Arcade, Otley

1983 Pool-in-Wharfedale Waterworks Co. Ltd. discontinues supply.

Water, Water Everywhere!

Apart from the obvious River Wharfe, Pool-in-Wharfedale always had, and still has, an abundance of water from the hill side. In 1030 the name Pofl is shown as the name of the village. This is from the old English word “pofel” meaning a low lying place. Pol was the Anglo-Saxon word for large pond or marsh.

Throughout our history there have been references made to how wet the land is. Way back in 1279 a grant of property in Pool shows that it included “2 parts of the marsh.” In 1459 a meadow in Pool was known as Dipe-Ker, which means deep fen or bog.

The meaning of “ing” is a wet meadow, as in the wetland wildlife area of Fairburn Ings near Ferrybridge. The Tythe map of the village in 1849 shows many of our ancient field names contain the word Ing. Long Pasture Ing, nearby Rough Ing, all running down from Old Pool Bank to the area at the back of Pool Hall and Church Close. Sym Ing is the field on which the village Memorial Hall, school, cricket and football grounds occupy. Poole Doles of 1727 records two other fields, Rice Brigg Ing, near Pool Bridge and Ruff Ings Field. Other ancient field names in Pool are Whet Syke in the Rushmere Lodge area, Arthington Lane. Water Croft is the field where skate board park is now built, Toad Mire Close again running down from Old Pool Bank, all suggest wet land.

The road we now know as Church Lane has, in living memory, been known as “Sludge Lane”. On a map of 1756 this same area, opposite to St. Wilfrid’s Church, has a field shown as Rise Bridge meaning – a road through marshland prepared with brushwood. Incidentally some other lovely old field names on the Tythe map are Far Corkleg, opposite Pool Crook Farm and Dog Kennel Close, near Caley Hall, also Sparrow Croft shown at the Bar House, Arthington Lane, with land stretching down to the river Wharfe.

Following a cholera epidemic in Leeds in 1832 the Board of Health agreed to amend sewers, water courses and drains. The importance of fresh clean water for health reasons was shown when the nearby reservoirs of Lindley, Swinsty and Fewston were constructed in the second half of the 19th century. The use of this water soon reduced the previously high death rate in Leeds which had been due to lack of sewage disposal and provision of clean water. It would be this need for pure water that prompted the Pool mill owners to harness the local water by laying down water pipes for the benefit of their workers and the village. Many of the older houses had their own wells.

An interesting note. At the sale of the water works on 19th June1903 an agreement was made between Thomas Mallorie Pullein, whose family had relinquished the title of Lord of the Manor of Pool the previous year, and Michael Nicholson Milthorp Snowdon, (1846-1918) executor of the Milthorp Estate, stating that the water supply of Lot 16 was to be made under the following conditions: Lot 16 on the Sale of Property is shown as the area of land which included the water works on Pool Bank New Road

1. The owners of property on the Pullein Estate are entitled to free supply of water for domestic purposes from Lot 16, for the Mill house and the four existing cottages in Mill Lane, the house called the Shrubberies (now Penndene) and all other house property owned by the Pullein family built before 1876 and any houses erected on Lot 16 of the Manor House Estate sale dated 25th July 1902.

2. The owners of the Milthorp estate shall be entitled to supply water for domestic purposes to any houses now or hereafter to be erected in the township of Pool.

3. The surplus water, after providing for the above supplies, shall flow down the existing course to the Corn Mill on the Pullein property.

The story of water to the village as told by *William Whiteley

The following was prepared by William Whiteley, son of William Lumb Whiteley, one of the founding members of B. S. & W. Whiteley Ltd. Paper Manufacturers, Otley Road, Pool-in-Wharfedale. William Whiteley died in 1967.

“I would like to cast my mind back to my boyhood days when I attended Ilkley Grammar School in the days before buses were the accepted means of transport between places, and the only public transport was the railway.

For many years I travelled from Pool Station to Ilkley station and then to the Grammar School, returning by the 4 o’clock train from Ilkley arriving in Pool at 4.20 p.m. and I believe this train still operates about the same time. I used to run down from the station as school boys do and in summer was very dry, and I used to call at a house which is now a shop in the middle of the village and drink a pint full of really icy cold water. This water was maintained in quality and quantity throughout the year, never varying a degree in temperature and was at least I thought in those days, a very refreshing drink, but at that time never thought anything about the source of supply or the continuity.

The source of this supply was a spring on the side of Pool Bank, just above the Railway station, which came up through the ground within two feet of the rails of a siding situated between the sidings and the main line. You should bear in mind that this would be in the early days a natural spring in a field and it was perhaps unfortunate that the Railway was planned through this field disturbing the arrangements for an open stream from the spring.

In due course in the early days, a storage tank was built on the north of the railway line to which the spring was piped underneath the railway lines, and from this storage tank most of the houses in the village of Pool were supplied with water. You have got to take your mind back to the time when in the good old days everybody had to look out for himself, and if you wanted a supply of water you had to get it yourself or pay for someone else doing it, there was no public supply at the time. The property owners therefore made the best use of local springs which existed in the area, and whilst most of these local supplies have been extinguished due to the actions on the parts of local Councils and other interference, I am glad to say that this supply is still maintained.

The first record of it changing hands dates back to 1903 when a Mr. Alfred Whitehead of Pool who lived at Bryn Afon, the house immediately above Pool Station, purchased certain properties by public auction which included the spot of land containing the reservoir which made Mr. Whitehead the purveyor of water for the bulk of the cottages lower down the village. The previous owners were the Pullein family who at that time shared the village of Pool with Michael Nicholson of Park House and one or two other property owners, and there were certain properties which carried a free supply of water, the overflow being passed along in open ditches and piping to the Corn Mill at Pool. At the sale, the water was stated to be of excellent quality and after purchasing it Mr. Whitehead began to extend the supply to other houses and also new property, making annual charges. On the death of Mr. Whitehead the property passed to his daughters in December 1922, who moved to a farm house known as The White House.

Things went on very much as usual until July 1935, the property and the water rights became vested in Mr. Malcolm Hill, Bradford solicitor, and Mrs. Hill, who carried on the same procedure with regard to the water supply. In 1944 Mr. and Mrs. Hill decided to leave Pool as they were disposing of the property known as the White House, but they wished to make a gift to the Rural District Council of the water supply for the benefit of the village of Pool, and all the water rights vested in them, they transferred to the W.R.D.C. The W.R.D.C. accepted the gift for the benefit of the village and this gift was accepted under the provisions of Section 268 of the Local Government Act 1933. A Conveyance was executed on the 9th March 1944, the principal provisions being:-

A piece of land containing 1155 square yards or thereabouts with the water tank standing thereon and all the water rights and system of water service then owned and held therewith, including such of the pipes and connections used therewith as have been laid down for the purpose of supplying the village of Pool-in-Wharfedale or any part thereof with water and all the right of the Grantors in connection therewith were conveyed to the Council in fee simple subject to the following exceptions, reservations and covenants:

(a) Reserving to the White House estate all pipes and connections used for the purpose of supplying the same with water in a full and ample a manner as theretofore, but for domestic, stable and horticultural purposes only, and the flow of water thereto.

  1. Subject to the claims of the persons entitled to a free supply.
  2. A covenant by the Council to keep the said tank and the pipes and connections in good repair.
  3. For the erection of boundary fences.
  4. Not to use the plot of land for any purpose other than the supply of water to the said village of Pool-in-Wharfedale.

The Rural District Council became the water authority and billed out the various accounts to the consumers and according to the list supplied by Mr. Hill.

The village water supply main comes down the rest of Pool Bank down the main village street, and turns up Otley Road as far as Fairview there being a branch off down Mill Lane to supply the houses and cottages down Mill Lane.

There were complaints of shortage of water in summer notwithstanding the fact that the supply never failed and this was deduced to be a leakage in the mains. Mr. Ashworth, the Surveyor to the W.R.D.C. handled this problem and the householders down Mill Lane who were receiving mainly a free supply, agreed to share the cost of a new branch down Mill Lane which put the supply in order. Later leakages developed on the main and it was necessary to renew a large portion of this down the village street, which was done at the expense of the Council.

It was this that opened up all the trouble. In all good faith the W.R.D.C. had been operating as far as it could be established to the benefit of all concerned, but it then transpired that Leeds Corporation had the Public Authority Rights of the village of Pool, as they obtained these in an Act of Parliament when the mains went from the reservoir to Leeds through the village of Pool and they were in fact supplying certain of the properties.

The Rural District Council having expended money on an illicit undertaking were called to account, but by that time Mr. Phil Wade, as Clark to the Council, had passed away and the position taken up by Mr. C. Newtead. Mr. Newstead and I journeyed to London to the Ministry of Health on this subject and were staggered to find that what we had interpreted as a Deed of Gift was actually a sale, in view of the fact that conditions were attached to the Deed of Gift, which had monetary value.

You can understand the position was becoming increasingly difficult here, we a local authority supplying water without any rights and expending rate payers’ money on the maintenance of the main, which to those conversant with the workings of local authorities, means a clash with the public Auditor.

We again went to London to try to resolve this difficulty, but the Ministry were adamant. First of all Leeds Corporation refused to waive their rights for the village of Pool or even share them with the rural authority, and insisted on the W.R.D.C ceasing to be purveyors of water, and secondly the Ministry insisted on the W.R.D.C. ridding itself of the whole scheme. The problem was how to do this and the solution was suggested by the Ministry, i.e. give the undertaking back to Mr. Hill. We then met Mr. Hill who absolutely refused to have anything to do with it any more having legally detached himself from the undertaking and refused to help us to find a solution. After giving this matter considerable thought the only solution I could find was to float a Private Limited Company to take over from the Rural District Council for a nominal sum the water undertaking and this could only be accomplished if the owners of the properties receiving free supply, would undertake to waive their rights and come in to the new Company.

Share certificate.

You can imagine my relief when I found that this was possible and Pool-in-Wharfedale Waterworks was finally floated as a Private Company with shares of £2 each, one property to be entitled to one share, so that if a single property owner connected with the water supply paid his £2 he took a share in Pool-in-Wharfedale Waterworks and was then entitled to receive water at an agreed rate, which rate incidentally was fixed at much less that it would have been from Leeds Corporation. In other words the price of the share at £2 plus two years water rate was less than two years Leeds Corporation Water rate, so thereafter it constituted a free supply less of course any maintenance that had to be done.

A meeting was called of the owners and a scheme was agreed and the Company formed by people having sufficient local interest becoming Directors without pay, and the first Secretary I am glad to say is still in office (Mr. Wade) and the original Board of Directors still hold the fort.

We supply 110 properties with water which is of first class quality and available for gardening and car washing when Leeds Corporation is restricted, so that we reckon we have done a good service. The supply is used by the village school and most of you know who are connected with education, strict control is kept on water supplies for schools and with one exception the water supply has never been in doubt as to purity.

Unfortunately, a sewage main on the hill side above the spring became disconnected due to movement in the hill and in course of time the seeping took place through to the spring with consequent pollution for a temporary period of time. Apparatus was set up to chlorinate the supply to the satisfaction of all concerned, and whilst chlorination is still continued on a smaller scale the purity of the water in the spring at the consumers tap still gets an all clear at every inspection.

The purpose of this long story is to show you what difficulties you can meet in public life by coming up against statutory regulations, Acts of Parliament and awkward people and it perhaps does give the lie to the old adage “Never look a gift horse in the mouth”. Personally, I am very proud of this achievement of maintaining the village supply intact through the various developments of Local Government and I hope that those who come after me will seriously maintain this position, particularly as the water supplies of the country are giving concern to all those who have to manage them.” (Otley Museum O/P/dc/1)

POOL WATERWORKS as described by waterworks engineer, Roland Tankard.

G. A. (Aldi) Tankard took over the maintenance of Pool Waterworks from Michael Oates, senior around 1914. (Michael Oates is recorded as being a plumber aged 28 in the 1891 census.) I, Roland Tankard, his son, followed in 1953. On my retirement in 1980 the chlorination of the water passed to Bernard Bolton. All were residents of Pool-in-Wharfedale.

It was difficult to locate the leaks but we had a “locator” which registered the vibrations made by the water as it passed along the pipes. This was an electrical instrument. Unfortunately, it was difficult to use, as vibrations from a motor vehicle at the top of Pool Bank New Road would register at the bottom! The work therefore had to be carried out at night when, in those days, there was little traffic. Leaks were also difficult to locate if the water had entered a natural water course.

The map, shown at the start of this section, was produced by Aldi Tankard and myself, showing the route of the water main, control valves, services and properties supplied. The map took sometime to compile as no records had previously been made. At this time the water supplied approximately 120 properties.

Before the building of the railway the water came down directly from a reservoir situated just above Willow Court, but the railway broke the pipes so a decision was to construct another reservoir which was on Pool Bank New Road. This was a ceramic tank some 8’ deep by 10’ in diameter. It had a chlorinator operated by a tube which drip fed into the reservoir, day and night. This made for rather “salty” water in the morning! The chlorinator had to be refilled once a week.

Because the reservoir had now been moved, the water to Sandy Lobby had to be pumped up the hill. A tank was situated underground at the quarry end of Sandy Lobby. Each morning a railway porter arrived to pump the water up by hand. The water was from a pump house situated by the railway signal cabin. By the time the water company closed Sandy Lobby had already left this supply.

The water pressure was always low and often on Monday morning wash day the water pressure became almost non-existent. Towards the end of WW2 a surveyor on the District Council decided a better water pressure would be obtain by enlarging the reservoir. A party of Italian prisoners of war was employed to dig a much bigger reservoir. This of course made no difference to the pressure.

One day during the 1930’s there was a problem with the reservoir. A filter at the bottom of the tank had worked lose. At that time Aldi Tankard had a lad, “Little Bob”, working for him. The lad was told to undress and swim to the bottom of the 8’ deep tank to repair the filter. Unfortunately, Miss Amy Whitehead, owner of the water company at this time, arrived on the scene. She was an elderly spinster and one of the “old school”, always wearing a hat and a brown corduroy suit. She stayed in conversation with Aldi for some time. Poor Bob remained in the water until she had gone. He was blue when he emerged. Spring water is very cold!

We also maintained the water supply at the upper village of Old Pool Bank. When the houses were built there in the mid 1920’s, they tapped into the Pool Quarry reservoir. There were always lots of frogs and toads in this water!

View of the old water filter shed on Pool Bank New Road 2006

The demise of the water works – by director Ted Brown, given during an interview in 2001.

“The supply of water to older houses in the village by The Pool-in-Wharfedale Waterworks Co. Ltd. was discontinued in 1983 for two reasons:

1. The pipe, which ran from the bottom of the Avenue des Hirondelles to a collecting tank on Willow Court and then across Willow Court to the works on Pool Bank New Road, became silted up. Because there were no funds (the water rate was never more than 8p. in the pound) there were no reserves to repair this pipe.

2. A meeting with the Environmental Health was held in the Methodist Meeting Room where it was decided that the water was not one hundred per cent fit to drink even though many of the villagers present at the meeting, tried to convince them that they themselves were perfectly well and had been drinking it for years.

For three months the Yorkshire Water Board fed their water into the system but the pressure was too high and so the using of the Pool water system came to an end.

Roland Tankard who lived at Fountain Villa on Arthington Lane was the engineer used by the company and always seemed to know where to find a leak when it appeared.

There were three directors in Ted Brown, David Gwilt and Peter Ramsey (the late George Middlemass, local butcher, was also a director).

Comments on the water and its supply by members of the village.

At the news of the closing of the water works in 1983, one villager was heard to say, “T’watter’s been coming through t’graveyard all these years and it never did us any ‘arm”.

“A cup of tea made from Pool water was something special”

“When you filled a bath full of Pool water it had a lovely icy blue colour”

“The water supply from Pool-in-Wharfedale Waterworks had very poor pressure and if anyone else on Park Buildings was using water, especially on Monday morning wash days, it was almost non-existent. Around 1972 we installed two storage tanks in our house, so there was always a reserve for a bath, washing etc.”

“From the early to mid 1900’s when cycling along Arthington Lane was popular, cyclists would stop to drink the water from the trough near Park Buildings.”

“It could never become silted up as the water was always so clear, even the reservoir never silted up. I suspect even to-day it will not have any residue in it.” Roland Tankard, Pool Waterworks engineer – 2006.

Two letters showing money paid for repairs to Pool water pipes during 1914:

a. To Oates on behalf of the Whitehead family. (Alfred Whitehead owned the waterworks and lived at Bryn Afon – Bank House).

b. An amount paid to Mr. Tankard.

Typhoid fever claimed at least one death in the village in 1884.

Pumping Station at Arthington c1900

*Although the story of the waterworks has been attributed to William Whiteley various letters suggest it may have been told by Holmes Whiteley, his brother.