Tetbury has historically had a problem with a reliable source of water, often suffering with dry springs during the summer months. This ultimately led to no development in the town as mills began to spring up down the nearby valleys as the industrial revolution took hold. No work available resulted in noone wanting to settle resulting in no development.
Under the Manorial system of government those that had land with one of the springs or wells upon it had to keep the way free for the inhabitants to have access to the water supply according to the custom of the manor. At the Court Leet held in October the customs were read out and those that were in breach of the terms were presented to the jury and at pains to put the wrong right or to be fined.
Townspeople granted right of access with their water carts through the Grange estate to obtain a supply
Lack of a reliable water source caused the failure of any water mill in the town
Free liberty to fetch water in Magdalen Mead for ever granted by John le Breuse
John Lymericke, of Tetbury gent, hath for him and his heyres forever, given leave to all the inhabitants of Tetbury
to fetch water at one, or well spring butting uppon Maudlen Mead, in Tetbury Field. Deed dated 19th January 2nd yr Henry VII (1486/7) [Lee p.41]
John Limerick granted the well at Magdalen Mead to the townspeople
Public wells at Maudlin [Magdalen] Meadow Well, Field Well, Worwell and Lime Well
The Manor Rolls show that there were rights to water from Maudlen Mead well, field well, wor well and Lyme well. If the path to the well was on ‘private’ land the way was to be kept open. For example, Field well was on land occupied by Christopher Harris and owned by Mr Francis Savage and a way to the water was to be kept open on penalty of a fine.
The Manor Rolls have the following entries relating to water supply [spellings as in the original]
“item we continew the way to the worwells to fich water with cartes or otherways and to water cattle there upon payment of 20d p(er) aney p(er)son as shall denay the same”
“item we continew our anchent custom for fiching of water for our towne at Sharpes well”
“item we continew our antient way for the fiching of water from limeweell and p(er) wasing of clothes there”
[Source: Gloucestershire Archives D566/M2]
The same bundle has another page in different writing, but no date, that refers to the new pool and that there is a fine for the washing of clothes or pigs or anything that would harm the water there.
Edward Pullen agreed to supply the inhabitants of the town with a clean, fresh water supply from sources which included Worwell. He was to be allowed 18 months to lay pipes for conveying the water.
An ancient well under the Town Hall was sunk lower and Rev.John Wight fixed a pump at his own expense.
Public wells were Home Well, Magdalen Meadow Well, Field Well, Worwell, Cutwell, Sharp’s Well, Lime Well
Before this year the Magdalen Meadow well was connected by pipes to the Field Well, Cherry Orchard and a tank constructed to hold the supply.
A plan was accepted to take the water from the tank in Cherry Orchard to the New Pool and The Fountain.
Ffeoffees handed over the care of the public wells and pumps to the Local Board
Waterworks on Lowfield Road established with water obtained from two boreholes
Mains water begins in the town
July - Charles Philpot was appointed as manager of the Water Works, replacing his father, Mr Hubert Philpot, who was appointed as consulting engineer for a term of one year. Charles was selected from 62 applicants at a salary of 25s. Due to drought a partial shutting off of the water supply was deemed a failure as more water was used than when full supply was maintained.
Charles Philpot engineer and manager of Water Works, Blind Lane
UDC Water Works Committee comprised Col.Morrison-Bell, Messers E.J.Dance, C.E.Gipps, M.J.Pride, M.H.Barnes, H.G.Harris [1924 Almanac and Directory]
Bristol Waterworks Company took over from Tetbury RDC
Two springs in the lower ground at Tetbury surrounded by former earthworks around the church and Bartons, are called Cut Well and The World [Source: Folklore Vol.23 No.3 p334-5]