Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cleobury Mortimer - The Wells and typhus and cholera!

"All's well that ends well!" but the well in Cleobury was bad news!

Photo by Michael Billings
Michael Billings " The Wells was just before the pub.There was an incline down to them."

Rosmary Webb Rehill The Wells was where the villagers used to get their water. Did you know that during the years of the plague, they finally figured that the water was contaminating everyone as it was flowing underground in the graveyard?"

Actually, we found out the problem wasn't in the days of the plague but in the Victorian times but Rosemary had got us looking into the history of the Wells in Cleobury and Paul Starling went through and took some photos of the plaque.

Photo by Rosemary Webb Rehill

Thanks to Paul Starling who visited Cleobury recently we now have a transcript of what it says on the plaque in that photo -

" The Well Plaque. This was for centuries the source of the towns water supply. The pool is fed by a spring, to which the townspeople who had no backyard pumps came daily to fetch water. Where the steps on the eastern side now are there was a slope and local waggoners would drive their vehicles through the water to swell the wood and thus tighten the joints for the spokes in the felloes. The waggons were then driven up the
other side and away.

In the late victorian times, through fear of waterborne diseases such as typhus and cholera, doubts were cast on the wisdom of relying on a spring issuing from the graveyard. In 1883 burials within 42 yards of The Wells were prohibited and the whole church yard was closed in 1895.

The overflow from the pool leads to the Pumphouse. Here the water was filtered before being pumped to a covered reservoir, about 300 yards past the cemetery on the Ludlow Road. At the same time, chemical treatment was introduced, certainly before 1944 when the water was shown to be bacteriologically contaminated. In 1979 the water was found to have excessive nitrates and the supply closed, being replaced by water from the Elan Valley Pipeline and, later from the River Severn. The pumphouse was acquired in the 1980s for use as the Scout and Guide Headquarters, and the Ludlow Rd reservoir was filled in soon afterwards.

The original town lock-up was on the slight mound between the Pumphouse and the pool. New photo to follow"

The Shropshire Star reported in January 2011 that  " The first settlements at Cleobury Mortimer were built on the basis of a clean and consistent supply of water in the area....The water source has been traced to an ancient well under the town’s graveyard on the opposite side of High Street, and is believed to have been iuse as a drinking water supply up until the 1940s...It’s historically the basis and centre of Cleobury Mortimer and there are still remains of an archway and the pump works from when it was in regular use."

The Wells - Cleobury Mortimer - Photo by Rosemary Webb-Rehill

Well Plaque photos by Paul Starling

Thanks to Rosemary Webb Rehill and Paul Starling for this material and the photos.

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