Memories of Calderdale

Sowerby Bridge: Victorian Water Supply


Geoffrey Siddall

In the 1950s, I was working at Jerry Wadsworth & Son Limited on Oldham Road Rishworth, At that time, it was run by Mr Harry Wadsworth and his son, Douglas. This was a General Engineers and Trailer Manufacturer from an old established blacksmith's shop that started in 1815.

One morning, an employee reported that the Waterhouse roof had collapsed! I investigated this and found a very interesting set up. The building was Spring Fed (low pressure), about 10 ft square with a wall roughly dividing the space, making a water tank of about 10 ft x 5 ft, The whole place was underground with only the roof showing above ground and with a door and steps leading down to the side of the large tank. At about 2 ft above ground level, 3 pipes at exactly the same height protruded over three identical tanks of about 20 gallons capacity, each were fitted with ball valves.

The water house was a joint venture between three owners, each one having his own tank and in drought conditions had the same chance of a water supply. On investigation, the owners of the tanks were Jerry Wadsworth & Son Limited, Ripponden & District Motors, Hollybank (house) and Zion Chapel On contacting all of them, Ripponden Motors were unaware of the supply. Zion Chapel was on mains supply and it appeared that Mr Harry Wadsworth was the only one using this supply in Holly Bank, where he resided.

Because the Water House was beyond repair, and Harry, now in his eighties, did not want to upset every room in the house to upgrade piping, the actual new water house was connected where the old pipes came to their land using the old pipes. Each of the separate tanks would have originally have had multiple uses. I know for a fact that the Jerry Wadsworth tank shared the water originally to Holly Bank Broad Street, about 6 houses, Jerry Wadsworth works and Oakbank, a house where we lived, this was changed to mains water just before we moved in.

Problem solved,

The Victorians made things to last!

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 10:26 / 30th May 2021 / 3799

Page Ref: M_21

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