Water Supply to Broadway

Publication: East Worcestershire Waterworks Co., 1980

The first water supply in Broadway was instituted some 300 years ago when spring water from the slopes of fish Hill ran down the hillside towards the village of Broadway and was then channelled into an open trench which ran straight down through the main street of Broadway. At intervals, steps lead down to the water so that the villages could collect their water by bucket. All the open “ale-houses“ in Broadway at that time made their own beer and, of course, they needed a good supply of water for this process. Each ale-house therefore had a piece of equipment rather like a sluice gate which, when they wanted a supply of water, they dropped across the open stream. This dammed back the water to a greater height than was normal and allowed it to flow down a special pipe into the ale-house premises where it was collected in a trough. A few of the richer villagers also had this sort of equipment, but most of the people had to use their buckets to fetch water.

Unfortunately, in those days, people did not understand the importance of keeping their drinking water clean, and it was not at all unusual for horses to be allowed to drink at the stream or for clothes to be washed, or for ducks and geese to swim on it. By the year 1850, however, terrible outbreaks of typhoid and cholera had been raging throughout the country and people were at last beginning to understand the importance of clean water. They therefore decided to cover up the stream to keep the water pure but, at the same time, they realised that they would have to provide another water supply for the villages. They therefore built a small reservoir on the slopes of fish Hill to collect the water from the springs and they then lead pipes down into the village with taps at intervals along the pipes to allow the villagers to collect their water.

A few years later, the Evesham Union (a type of local council) took over the Broadway water supply for the Parish Overseers. Until 1895, the springs (known as the “Village Springs”) had been used to supply Broadway alone, but in this year the Evesham and Pebworth Joint Water Committee began a scheme to supply water from the springs at Broadway to several other villages in the Evesham area. The existing “Village Springs“ at Broadway were already working flat out to meet the demand for water from Broadway itself, so a second group of springs (known as (“Pear Tree Springs“) where required on the other side of the Stowe-on-the-Wold Road. A second reservoir was also built next to the old reservoir on the slopes of Fish Hill; this reservoir collected all the water from the new group of springs at Pear Tree.

For many years the water from Broadway was used to supply villages in the neighbourhood, but eventually as Broadway grew in size, other water sources had to be used to supply the other villages and the two sets of springs – “Village” and “Pear Tree” -were used to supply Broadway alone. A third reservoir was also built on fish Hill to replace the original old reservoir built in 1850 which had begun to leak badly.

Some years later as the demand for water grew further, yet another reservoir was built on Fish Hill. Hitherto, when the other reservoirs were full, the surface water from the springs ran to waste in a nearby stream. This fourth reservoir was designed to collect as much as possible of the waste water to improve the water supply to Broadway.

The water supply network at Evesham then passed into the hands of the Evesham Rurel District Council who, at times, had to take what is known as a “bulk supply” in from the neighbouring Cotswold Water Board. A “bulk supply” consists of large quantities of water delivered along a pipe from another water authority. In this case, the Evesham R.D.C. had to pay the Cotswold Water Board for any water they took from them. This bulk supply was necessary to augment the supply from the Broadway springs. In the meantime, again to meet the growing demand from the people of Broadway for water, a further set of springs at Buckland were acquired by Evesham R.D.C. which was fed into Broadway at the lower end of the village.

In 1961, the East Worcestershire Waterworks company took over all the water supplies previously administered by Evesham R.D.C. which, of course, included Broadway. Since that time, we have been responsible for your water supply. The only rearrangement we have made to the Broadway supply, however, has been to end the bulk supply from the Cotswold Water Board. Shortly after we took over the Broadway supply area the Cotswold Water Board warned us that they would have to drastically cut down their bulk supply to Broadway because they needed the water for their own area, so we had to find an alternative quickly.

We have a large 2,000,000 gallon reservoir at Childswickham (on the Evesham-Broadway Road) which is located at a far lower level than Broadway village. As you know, water cannot flow uphill by itself, so we had to install a large pump at Childswickham Reservoir which pumps water uphill to Broadway. Incidentally, the water in Childswickham Reservoir is obtained from springs at Pinnock (near Temple Guiting), Snowshill and Middle Hill.

As you can see, therefore, the water you receive at Broadway comes from two groups of springs on Fish Hill, from a group of three springs at Buckland and also from Childswickham Reservoir. In general, the Fish Hill spring supplies the higher part of Broadway, whilst the water from Buckland and Childswickham supplies the lower part of Broadway.