Springs: from Research to Blake to Oral History

Richardson: Wells and Springs of Gloucestershire, HMSO,1930 Introduction:

  1. Between Dursley and Dudbridge few springs issue; some of the more reliable are used for the supply of Coaley and King’s Stanley…”

  2. In the Nailsworth, Horsley and Avening Valleys…copious springs break out, such as at Gig Mill, Millbottom, the Coldwell Spring, those at the Midland Fishery in the Horsley Valley, in the grounds of “Pensile”, and in the vicinity of Longfords Mills up the Avening Valley.”

  3. Up the Frome Valley, above Stroud, is the powerful Clerk’s Flour Mill Spring…the springs at Bliss Mills, the “Black Gutter,” etc., and the considerable store of water in the Cotteswold Sands which furnished the original supply (by means of wells) of the Stroud Water Company.”

  4. If it had not been for the presence of the Fullers’ Earth, the greater part of the Cotteswold upland would have been void of villages, isolated farms and cottages…Kingscote, Nymphsfield, Avening, Minchinhampton, Sapperton, Edgeworth, Chalford, Bisley…”; the juxtaposition of Fullers’ Earth and the Great Oolite has been a fundamental determinant of settlement patterns.

Richardson: Wells and Springs of Gloucestershire, HMSO,1930 Introduction:

  1. Between Dursley and Dudbridge few springs issue; some of the more reliable are used for the supply of Coaley and King’s Stanley…”

  2. In the Nailsworth, Horsley and Avening Valleys…copious springs break out, such as at Gig Mill, Millbottom, the Coldwell Spring, those at the Midland Fishery in the Horsley Valley, in the grounds of “Pensile”, and in the vicinity of Longfords Mills up the Avening Valley.”

  3. Up the Frome Valley, above Stroud, is the powerful Clerk’s Flour Mill Spring…the springs at Bliss Mills, the “Black Gutter,” etc., and the considerable store of water in the Cotteswold Sands which furnished the original supply (by means of wells) of the Stroud Water Company.”

  4. If it had not been for the presence of the Fullers’ Earth, the greater part of the Cotteswold upland would have been void of villages, isolated farms and cottages…Kingscote, Nymphsfield, Avening, Minchinhampton, Sapperton, Edgeworth, Chalford, Bisley…”; the juxtaposition of Fullers’ Earth and the Great Oolite has been a fundamental determinant of settlement patterns.

  5. Some of the springs thrown up by the Fuller’s Earth are very strong: for example…Seven Springs, Bisley; Cherington Springs, near Avening…”

  6. The 1930 book mentions the work of JH Taunton, who reckoned that the River Frome and its tributaries drained about 79 square miles: most of the water “carried off by the Frome is derived from springs issuing from the Cotteswold Sands”; a much smaller amount “is derived from springs thrown out by the Fullers’ Earth…” The author then listed the chief tributaries of the Frome: “…the stream that rises at Clipperwell, Holy Brook, Toadsmoor Brook, Slad Brook, Painswick Stream, River Avon(or Aven) with its tributary the Horsley Brook, Stanley and Downton streams; while in this connection the group of springs known as “the Chalford Springs” must not be overlooked.”

  7. Fisher in his “Notes and Recollections of Stroud” gives further insight into wells and springs: “Near the centre of “The Cross” is a deep well of water, in which formerly stood the public pump.” Ex-mayor, John Marjoram says, in corroboration, that there are springs beneath the police station (these were discovered when the foundations were laid for the present building, he says). Fisher goes on to talk of “…the spring called Gainey’s Well, which rises in a hollow of Gainey’s Leaze on the northern side of Stroud-hill.” He further mentions “various springs which rise in Kilminster’s estate…situated near the top of Stroud-hill…” In a wider context, Fisher says that “the water in this neighbourhood, though perhaps sufficient, is not abundant. The dip of the strata of the Cotteswolds is from the north-west to the south-east – the direction of the valley of the Thames – which, consequently, receives the larger supply of the Cotteswold water-shed; whilst Stroud and the other smaller valleys receive only what flows from the…western face of the hills…” He goes on to talk about the fissures in the rocks and that “Hemlock’s Well is a public spring of water, flowing out of the south side, as Gainey’s Well does out of the north…both of them from the same causes, and both being on nearly the same level at the junction of the lias clay with the porous oolite rocks. But the springs in Kilminster’s farm rise from beneath the upper oolite rocks, at the junction with a clay bed of the fuller’s earth formation. Hemlock’s Well lies on the east side of the private road…leading down from Lower-street, near the Castle, to Arundel’s mill…It probably took its name from the common hemlock…which grew near it, and are found on the rocky eminences of the neighbourhood…About sixty yards farther down in the hill side, is an old stone cistern which was formerly supplied from the same source, and was called Nanny Croker’s Well. Tradition says that a person of that name hanged herself on a tree which grew near this cistern” but the reason why has been taken by “Time…and drops it into Oblivion’s pool.”

  8. Avening: Cherington Springs (Gillhays Bottom 897994,); River Avon (Aven); “Strong springs issue … in the south side of the Avon valley between Longfords and Iron Mills. The spring seen in the stone-sided opening in the road in front of the west face of Longfords Mill comes out of the bank to the south…Another strong spring issues…some 60 yds. to the west and flows along a water course that discharges into the “canal” that feeds the Iron Mills mill-pond.”

  9. Bisley-with-Lypiatt: Bisley or Seven Springs; “They are the source of a tributary of the Toadsmoor Brook, which rises in a spring…in Blanche’s Bank below Stancombe Farm.” There are also springs in Lypiatt Park, Middle Lypiatt, Lower Lypiatt…and below Bussage Churchyard. Nashend, Eastcombe, Bournes Green (“which is the source of a brook that joins the Frome below Baker’s Pool”), Oakridge, Oakridge Lynch (“likewise the source of a small stream”), Tunley, Daneway, Waterlane, Battlescombe, Througham, Slad Farm, Calfway Farm, Stancombe Farm, Fennell’s Farm, Ferris Court…are all situate…where water is obtainable from shallow wells or springs…Hill House and Snakeshole which give rise to a stream that flows down the Horns Valley that is joined by a streamlet rising below the Heavens.” The Slad Brook comes down the Dillay Farm valley and flows below Snow’s Farm and Steanbridge Farm, and southwards through the pond at Steanbridge. Below Snow’s Farm the Slad Brook is joined by a brook coming down the “Piedmont Valley”. The brooks derive their supplies from springs issuing from the base of the Cotteswold Sands.” These brooks flowed with an average of about 300,000 gallons a day according to a fine summer’s day gauging in 1927.

  10. Brimscombe: “There is a good spring running to waste into the canal almost opposite the Polytechnic and there are three smaller springs also running to waste into the canal between the Polytechnic and Bourne Lock.”

  11. Cainscross: Derryhay Public Spring “situate some 200 yds. east by north of the Chapel, Ebley…The water issues from the gravel bed, flows continuously, and,…runs to waste in the Stroudwater Canal. Westrip is dependent on wells…and springs issuing from, the base of the Cotteswold Sands. The Ruscombe Brook flows along the eastern side of the parish, through ponds near Cainscross Brewery, and discharges into the Frome.” The Brewery use wells from springs at “Puckshole, a hamlet between Paganhill and Randwick.”

  12. Chalford: “Rack Hill is supplied partly by…springs in the bottom, such as Tankard’s Spring. Numerous small springs are thrown out…in France Lynch, the strongest being that south-east of the church. The water from these springs runs to waste down Dimmel’s Dale into the Frome at Hell Corner. A fairly good stream rises at Old Neighbouring (Chalford Lynch) and flows down the valley past Chalford Hill Schools…a good stream comes out of the north side of the valley near the Queen’s Head Hotel and is taken under the canal (after having been joined by another stream under Whareham’s Hill) and discharges into the Frome.”

  13. Horsley: “Top level springs rising at Nupend feed dip wells in the main street…The Be-Thankful Fountain in the Horsley road is supplied by top level springs, which ran feebly in 1921, situate 1/3 mile S.E. by E. of All Saints Church, Shortwood, near Willow Cottage…There is a dip and a tank from which a pipe is laid to supply Willow Cottage. On the right hand side of the path south of Coldwell is a dip with a circular opening…There are some useful springs down Bartonend Lane.”

  14. Kings Stanley: “Middleyard…is supplied…from a spring in “The Combs” (as the comb between Pen and Selsley Hills is called), and Coldwell…The stream running through the village from Huntley’s Spring is polluted by drainage.”

  15. Leonards Stanley: “…there is a spring near St. Swithin’s Church which may be drawn upon by anyone who wants water and there are copious springs at Severn Waters – the water from all of which…runs to waste into the Frome.”

  16. Minchinhampton: “In times past Michinhampton was partly dependent on…Well Hill Spring.” Lots of fissures in the Oolite here – commonly used for “Any liquid, however contaminated”; made illegal “But at the time of the Minchinhampton epidemic (of typhoid fever in 1844) it was an almost universal practice”; author thinks it “wonderful” that there is only one other record of a local epidemic “except a small one in 1758.”…”Gatcombe Park is supplied by a spring. Bubblewell (Forwood), springs thrown out by the Fullers’ Earth, is used by those living in the vicinity. Four or five springs (strong ones) rising in the neighbourhood…above Springfield used to supply Forwood Brewery and the overflow went into a trough by the side of the road to Minchinhampton. Box is supplied by…Troublewell Spring which furnishes a good supply…Spriggs Well, near Rose Cottage, Amberley, used to furnish the supply for the ancient camp. Burleigh…a spring in the hamlet is largely used. In the Golden Valley a large number of springs – the Chalford Springs of literature – issue…the chief of which are “The Bubbler”, “The Black Gutter”, and the spring which is the main source of the Stroud Water Company’s supply at Clerk’s Mill. The Black Gutter…”is the biggest feeder of the Thames and Severn Canal and is fed by about twenty springs rising under the railway bank.” The author then goes on to talk about the Stroud Water Company and mentions two springs: “Clerk’s Flour Mill Spring (main supply)…comes out of the south side of the valley and is conducted through a culvert to a pumping-station beside the mill- pond. Into this sump discharges water brought through…a pipe from the Bliss Mill springs…About 30,000 gallons per hour are pumped…and there is an overflow into the mill-pond of about 1,000,000 gallons per day. There is another spring which is not now used, also coming out of the south side of the valley…The overflow from the “Black Gutter” is conveyed by an iron pipe and discharges into the millpond.”

  17. Miserden: “Miserden village is supplied by an undertaking provided about 1920, by F.N.H. Wills. The source of supply is a spring thrown out …towards the top of the steep valley side facing Bulls Bank Common…Before the present supply…the village obtained its water mainly from a spring in the bank east of the church.”

  18. Nailsworth: “Springs issue from two horizons, from (1) the basement beds of the Great Oolite…known a the “high” or “top level springs”; and (2) at or near the base of the Cotteswold Sands known as the “bottom” or “low level springs.” The water of the top level springs is hard. The springs are usually collected by means of stone drains…Examples of private supplies from top-level springs are those at The Hollies, Rockness House and Ringfield Farm. Good top-level springs are those (1) in the hillside south of All Saints Church, Shortwood…and another which furnishes a supply to Hillier’s Bacon Curing Factory; (2) above Rockness…(3) near Rowden. The water issuing from the Cotteswold Sands …has a very constant temperature, summer and winter of 42 degrees. The water that issues from the Sands has percolated through the Inferior Oolite. The Oolite exposed in quarries “steams” in frosty weather and all the year round “musty smelling air” rises from “lissens” in it. This steaming has gained the expression, often used locally, of “hot rock” and of houses being situate on “hot rock.” Notable springs issuing from the Cotteswold Sands are:- (1) near Newmarket Mills (demolished). Water from a spring here is pumped to Hillier’s Bacon Curing Factory; (2) at Springhill, the water of which is conveyed to…Axpills and Cossack Square…Day’s Mill, and The Fountain and Lloyds Bank…(3) at Gig Mill…(4) in Millbottom. The Millbottom Spring is a very copious spring used by those living in the vicinity but otherwise running to waste. In the bottom at Harleywood where by the path-side close to the southern end of the mill-pond is “Sweetwater Spring; (5) at the bend of the road between Holcombe Mill and Weighbridge Inn on the Avening road, a small but constant spring; (6) that used to supply Holcombe House and The Hermitage. Care requires to be exercised in determining springs in this district; many so-marked springs on the 6-inch map are “spout-springs” and springs originated from leaky or disconnected old drains, draining clay-slips.”

  19. Painswick: “…public springs, such as that at the bottom of Vicarage Street (under the Vernon’s boundary wall) and St. Tabatha’s Well in Tibbiwell Lane…spring at Cherry Hill Cottages, Spoonbed Hill…Slad hamlet…a spring near Laurel Villa…Cud Well is a spring (somewhat feeble)…At 300yds. N. by W. of Steanbridge is a spring…and at 150 yds. to the N. by W. several springs…the southernmost of which, it is said, “never fails”. There is a useful spring at the back of the Star Inn.”

  20. Randwick: “The village owes its supply to the generosity of the late Mr. Carpenter, and derives it from a spring at Long Court…about 100 yds. W.N.W. of the fish pond in the grounds.”

  21. Rodborough: “Numerous springs issue from at or near the base of the Sands in the hill-side. The most notable are:- Stanfields Spring, which…ran well…for 25 years but went dry in 1921; King’s Court…which is a good spring and available for public use; Court Bank, in the Stroud Valley, some 500 yds. north-east by north of Rodborough Fort; and about 500yds. east by north of Rodborough Manor.”

  22. Stonehouse: “ Formerly a number of properties were supplied by an overflow from the Verney Spring which issues…at a little below the 300 ft. contour in a hollow some 300 yds. north-east of the Stonehouse Brick and Tile Works. Another spring issuing from the same geological horizon east of the Glen is used by the inhabitants of Woodcock Lane…”

  23. Stroud: Similar to Nailsworth, there are “Low Level” springs “ from at or near the base of the Cotteswold Sands, from which they are thrown out by the Upper Lias clay and “High Level” which issue forth “from at or near the base of the Great Oolite, from which are thrown out by the Fullers’ Earth. A gravel bed rests on the Middle Lias and forms a terrace along the right bank of the Frome from Gannicox west-wards into Cainscross parish.” The author then goes on to talk of “The Stroud Hill Supply is derived from some eighty shallow springs thrown out by the Fullers’ Earth between the Bisley Road reservoirs…and Sydenham’s Farm, and collected into…iron pipes (via below Kilminster, Fennel’s and Anstead Farms)”; 2.6 miles long with a yield varying from 15,000 gallons a day in summer to 200,000 gallons per day in the winter months. The author then addresses Gainey’s Well: a low level spring with a yield varying from 60,000 gallons per day in summer to 110,000 per day in winter. There is also Farmhill Well, “in a field to the east of Farmhill Park…water was encountered at 24ft. down and it is said that there is never less than 12ft. of water in the well. There are a number of springs. Mostly small, in the District, issuing from at or near the base of the Cotteswold Sands.” The author then looks at the Stroud Brewery – “This brewery is adjacent to the GWR Station and obtains its supply from springs and wells at some distance.” The writer concludes by looking at “Boring at Callowell.- Borehole in garden of Plough Inn. Made 1925.”

  24. Thrupp: “Good springs thrown out by the Fullers’ Earth are those below The Horns and Lower Lypiatt, while a good spring issues from the base of the Cotteswold Sands above the old Brimscombe Brewery.”

  25. Whiteshill: “There are three useful springs in Ruscombe, namely (1) Near the Chapel; (2)…at the sharp bend of the road north of Ludlow Green; (3) the “Double Spout…in the dip between Ludlow Green and Primrose Hill, which yields more water than any in the neighbourhood and is the source of Ruscombe Brook.”

  26. Woodchester: “…many of the cottagers draw their water from “spout springs”, in particular the “Ram Pitch Spring,” near the Ram Inn, and “Turner’s Spring” at the top of Frogmarsh Lane.”

Local Spring Time

Liminal shrines: those strange, trickling gateways

To chthonic places, real or imagined;

Mythopoeic underworlds of mystery,

Hades with imprisoned Persephone,

Or a metaphor for hope and wisdom,

Or a deliquescent, dripping staff of life,

(Or Limestone, Fullers’ Earth and Cotteswold Sands),

Quicksilver mercurial alchemy,

A continuous flow of constant change,

One sip of which will switch your sense of time

(Drinking rainwater that dropped who knows when),

Like star-shine from ancient constellations,

A laughing trick all that slakes and comforts,

Yet mocks the tension of the present tense,

A spring-tide clock whose hands revolve backwards,

With messages from another aeon.

A Cabinet of Curiosities

The Age of Enlightenment

Gave birth to the Collector:

Rational, assiduous;

Naming and classifying;

Listing and cataloguing;

Creating and displaying

A Cabinet of Curiosities;

Flora and fauna pin-holed;

Rocks and fossils pot-holed;

God and Darwin side by side.

So, here is our cabinet,

A Blakean vision unconfined

By taxonomy’s constructs,

Escaping from the test-tubes,

Dripping from the tight-locked drawers,

Undermining Horatio’s philosophy,

With dreams of another way to be.

The Truth About Springs

The word “Truth”, just like the name of John Keats,

Is writ upon the ever changing waters;

And so, our systematic search for springs,

The cataloguing and naming of parts,

Resembles that of the alchemist,

Seeking out the philosopher’s stone.

But how can we confine the mercurial?

Those thin blue lines that disappear,

With culverts, pipes, wells and drainage,

Or wander with the whim of nature,

Through seasons of capricious rainfall:

So, just like Truth, springs are protean,

And our labours are a metaphor

For the half-wisdom of science and logic,

There are more things in heaven and earth than

Are dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio.”

Jacquetta Hawkes, in her wonderful book, “A Land”, first published in the year of my birth, 1951, looked at the relationship between names and landscape:
“There is a sense in which the ordering of speech has a direct effect also upon the land. Names could be attached to all those features of the countryside that attracted… attention or were of significance. Mountains, rivers, springs…Above all, places associated with ancestral spirits, gods and heroes. Place names are among the things that link men (sic) most intimately with their territory. As the generations pass on these names from one to the other, successive tongues wear away the syllables just as water and wind smooth the rocks; so they…perhaps lose their meaning, yet grow more and more closely attached to the land itself…A geologist finds proof of past life in fossils, an archaeologist in objects…an etymologist looks instead to place names…”


Richard Mabey recounts the story

When Meux’s Horseshoe Brewery

Bored a well, over a thousand feet,

Into the five hundred million year old

Subterranean Cambrian rocks,

Below Tottenham Court Road.

And there, on Old Stone Age strata,

Were fossilised weeds, common today:

Knotgrass, creeping buttercup, chickweed, mare’s tail.

So, as we stride across our Stroud Valleys,

Ancient, abyssal depths beneath our soles,

With water coursing its way to spring lines,

Those flowers you saw by the side of the spring,

Might just be the children of those that stood

When the rains fell from unrecorded skies.

The Social History of Springs

So what do memories tell us

About how springs affect us?

When you think about it, springs and spring lines

Are fundamental reasons why we are here,

Why we are where we are when we are,

Yet the meanings we give to these life-sources,

Have been endlessly mediated and diverted

By countless culverts, pipes, utilities,

Waterworks, reservoirs and construction;

Most of us are understandably unaware,

Ignorant and unconscious of the power beneath our feet,

Yet the fragments that we glimpse reveal to us

How the issue of the underworld

Permeates our thoughts, minds and bodies,

In misunderstood ways, even today.

Memories may tell us even more:

The springs in Kingscourt, at The Street,

Helped make the path of true love run smooth,

Recalled Elsie Close, born 1903,

(Whose grannie used to be the village mid-wife)

Courted by Jack, bringing spring water

On Sunday nights to Elsie’s mum,

All ready for Washday Monday;

But springs could also roughen paths to the future,

When builders discovered them beneath planned foundations,

As in Oak Drive, near Rodborough Fields,

Or beneath Iceland in Stroud,

Or beneath the top of the High Street,

Where springs and an old reservoir by the police station,

Still cause subsidence even today.

Then there are the springs of the suburbs,

Sometimes culverted, sometimes disappearing,

But reappearing and running continuously somewhere,

As in Rodborough Avenue and Chandos Drive;

Or there might be memories of playing in the spring

Down by Bagpath,

Drinking its crystal clear stone cold waters,

Growing watercress, pumpkins and marrows

In spring-line beds,

Where Mr Strange would bathe his bruises,

After playing football for Thrupp FC,

While old Mr Turner yoked two large churns

On his shoulders for his daily supply,

Even though most of the houses in Butterow

Had spring-fed wells by then;

But mains water then came to Butterow,

The sign went up at the spring:
“Unfit for Drinking” –

We never took any notice of that and continued to drink

And play in the spring for as long as I can remember.”

Then there was the spring in Field Road,

On the way up to Stroud Hospital,

And the spring in Kitesnest Lane

Where pumpkins and marrows were grown,

Meanwhile the springs beneath Fishers Way

Still sometimes reappear and run across the roads,

While the spring still rises in Gastrells Lane,

And the springs in the Slad Valley

Still show with their summer-time

Dark green clumps of dark green grass.

Mrs Arthur of Kingscourt remembers her local springs,

Still being used in the 1940s,

While in her grandfather’s day, men bore a yoke,

Carrying the water back up the steep hill to Bowl Top Cottage,

While over at Ruscombe, the men bore the yokes from the spring too,

She thinks the spring at Stanfields may now be in someone’s garden,

But water from the spring at Selsley West,

By Middleyard, is still used by some people today;

Then there are the springs in All Saints Road

That fed wells at the back of the terrace,

One now flows in a conduit beneath the footpath,

But its laughter can still be heard in the drains

At the corner of All Saints Road and Springfield Road,

And then when you call in at Uplands Road Post Office,

It never stops, not even in drought or deep frozen winter,

And sometimes floods basements and cellars;

Then there are tales of wells in Stroud,

Hemlock Well and wells at The Field,

Hemlock Well, at the junction of Field Road

And the old Hemlockwell Lane –

The water supply comes through a higher well,

Once called Nanny Crocker’s cistern,

Legend has it that Nanny was hanged there as a witch,

But the waters poured in down the hill

To the water wheels at Arundel Mill,

While Gainey’s Well, whose 18th century wooden pipes

Were plugged with much needed kneaded bread,

Issued forth in Gainey’s Leaze,

While there had been a well where the roads fork

In front of the old Co-op, now laundrette (how fitting),

Since the early 18th century; a reservoir would follow;

This past subterranean reservoir

Still affects our mundane walking and shopping on the streets of Stroud,


John Clare: “There once were springs, where daisies’ silver studs

Like sheets of snow on every pasture spread;”

Dear Sir or Madam,

I was born and raised in Butterow near Stroud and well remember the spring at the bottom of the hill towards Bagpath, when we were children we used to play in the spring and drink the crystal clear water which gushed from a large pipe into a large basin. The water was always stone cold even in the height of summer, the overflow from the spring ran under the road and down a steep slope in which my father had water cress beds, also some of the villagers grew pumpkins and marrows by the side of the beds, my father played football for the THRUPP TEAM and my mother told me that my dad would stand in the spring on his way home to take the bruises out of his legs.

I well remember old Mr. Turner going by our house with a yoke over his shoulders with two large churns each side to collect his daily supply of water from the spring. Most of the houses in Butterow had wells including our house which had a pump in the back kitchen so the wells must have been supplied by springs. When mains water was supplied to BUTTEROW a sign was put on the spring saying that it was unfit for drinking. We never took any notice of that and continued to drink and play in the spring for as long as I can remember. I also drank from the spring in FIELD ROAD on the way up to Stroud Hospital and also there was a spring in KITESNEST LANE LIGHTPILL opposite ORCHARD VIEW ROAD where someone grew pumpkins and marrows by the side of the spring. The field on which our houses are built in FISHERS WAY and CHANDOS ROAD as covered in springs which sometimes reappear and run across the roads. Also in the valley in GASTRELS LANE there is a spring still running at the side of the road.

I hope this letter has helped you in your research on springs in the district as it brings back happy memories of my childhood.

Mr. Strange

I think there are quite a lot near us, in and near The Street ( we are hoping we are not on the spring line to the extent there’s one under our house!). There’s an ‘official’ one in the Street, not far from Zara’s house. We could show it to you. It’s for the public to use (though not everyone agrees). When a lovely old lady next door to us died in 1995 we put up a little plaque there in her honour. She was called Elsie Close (née Harris or Vick, I forget now). She was born in 1903 and lived in Kingscourt most of her life. Her granny had been the village midwife! (unofficially, of course, in those days). In order to ingratiate himself with Elsie’s parents when he was courting her, Jack, her sweetheart, would go to fetch water from the spring on Sunday evenings ready for Monday washing. They eventually married and had two daughters, both of whom have died. Jack died in 1979. I have a marvellous photo of him and Elsie taken by the SNJ photographer on the occasion of their Golden Wedding.

Carole Oosterhousen


Bob Tiley and Oak Drive – they had intended to build individual houses there but it proved to be too expensive as the buildings needed such strong and deep foundations because of the springs there; so they built flats instead of houses. What seems to be a sociological or economic decision has in fact been determined by subterranean springs.

Tony says the spring behind his house runs down to the last house in Rodborough Avenue; springs have been culverted around this part of Rodborough but he is sure they run continuously. Giles Diggle has just had a spring appear in his garden in Chandos Road after one nearby was culverted; the impact of the wet summer, 2012.

sorry – forgot to mention the springs! You will almost certainly be aware of the springs along the Slad valley below Summer street. When we lived at Lower Woodlands in the Slad Road we could see the darker green grass clumps opposite our house very clearly in the summertime. We also discovered the hard way the seam of Fuller’s earth that runs around the Slad valley about two-thirds of the way up, behind Swift’s Hill – it made some footpaths extremely treacherous.

Are you including wells? There were a few on The Field estate in back yards, and I have an as-yet unidentified death of a man digging a well when it collapsed on two workers. I am trying hard to establish that it was on William Cowle’s own land but the Board of Health minutes reported in the newspaper are very tight-lipped (so since he was Chairman I might be right!).


Have just found your request for info. about local springs, there is one in the field below us at bottom of Gastrells which my paternal grandmother’s family used 1880 onwards. For many years she retained the yoke with which her brothers fetched water back to Bowl Top cottage. The Village Spring at Ruscombe has a nameplate just round the corner from the chapel on the left hand side. There is a lovely old photo of children fetching water in Victorian times using a yoke. There is a spring in The Street at Kingscourt, rather overgrown now but it was used in 1940′s as was the one at Stanfields (now in someone’s garden I suspect). People still collect water from a spring in Selsley West near Middleyard. South Woodchester has one just up above The Ram. In Stroud, Spring Lane has Hemlock Well now barred up for obvious reasons.

Maureen Arthur.

Parts of the High Street seem to be gently subsiding at the top end outside the Medieval Building! There are said to be lots of springs around the area of the Police station (- the (reservoir used to be just there) & the water is said to wash down underneath the road. In the 1980s when we were working on the Med Building, the road actually fell into a huge cavern!

Iceland had planned to have an underground car park, but it was said to be too expensive & difficult to build because of the water.

Anne Mackintosh

The All Saints Road spring used to feed wells at the back of the terrace of three houses built in 1860. The west house of the three does not have a cellar and we think that it would have flooded too much. The spring is now conduited under the communal footpath which runs down the west side of the terrace and then under All Saints Road where you can hear it flowing all seasons by the drain at the corner of All Saints Road and Springfield Road and again just outside Uplands post office. The spring never dries not even in the deep freeze two winters ago. There may be other springs feeding that drain from higher up in All Saints Road – I am not sure.

There is a second run of water into the bank of All Saints Road which moves occasionally – the bottom two houses cellars flooded badly in July 2007 never having been wet before and recent work on Thompson Road, parallel to All Saints road, moved those springs again and again the basements flooded.

The older people are the ones to talk to as they have such long memories of water movement in the roads and it is a very sensitive issue.

For instance the building opposite the Uplands Post office had a well in its grounds. When the cottage was redeveloped and upgraded that well had concrete put into it. The water then worked its way down the hillside affecting other buildings and seeped out into the walls of Slad Mills, just where the Mill touches Slad Road, necessitating a lot of extra financial repairs.

You will never finish this project – there are so many thousands of spring stories – fabulous and well done for doing this. I think it’s really important for people to know where the water runs under their houses!


Steve – Leaky the Plumber – lives in Chandos Road – can always hear the sound of running water when he is awake at night.
We had lunch yesterday with neighbours who are involved in our FEWC research and live at one of the cottages that originally belonged to The Field mansion – probably 17thC certainly 18thC. The Field was the name of the house (yes it is a real nuisance) originally built possibly as early as the 1300s but certainly there in 1560 when it was bought, along with its mill and hillside, from John Huckvale by Richard Arundell. The house itself had a face lift in the 1800s but some of the original outbuildings are still visible, and the two adjoining cottages are fully functioning.

They have wondered for a long time how the original house got its water supply, and of course I thought of you and your research. The house was built on the only flat bit of the hillside, halfway up, with its mill in the valley on the river. Would it help to know the altitude? Here it is on an 1885 OS map:

They did tell the tale of a spring-supplied house up at the top of The Heavens that only recently went on mains water, and Hemlock Well is of course just at the town end of Bowbridge Lane, but surely there must have been a water supply nearer than that?

No rush – just another little jigsaw piece.

kind regards