W is for water

With a name like ‘Springhill’ I suppose water had to feature somewhere in this study. The hills above Springhill are indeed full of springs, underground reservoirs (some explorers allegedly taking a dinghy up to one of them and no it wasn’t me) and random boggy bits. We have already considered that the old name of the area arose from a clough in which the body of a woman was found (“D-day...”). Water influences the use to which land is put, whether arable or industrial, and this has certainly influenced my place’s history.

Studying the history and use of water has helped me understand more about the place and its people. Patrick (“F is for...”) left a codicil to his will in which he willed that the water he had recently found on the hills above Springhill should be available to all his properties equally and not just those owned by the beneficiary who received the land containing the spring in question.

Ooh, interesting. Even more interesting then to find a map amongst a neighbour’s deeds which outlined the pipework from said spring to the houses and farms it supplied...with names of residents in some instances. This map confirmed which of the three possible contenders the ‘cottage opposite the house in which I now reside’ (from the same will) actually was. It even came with instructions on how the water was to be divided in times of drought. A quick stroll in the fields confirmed that the cisterns were still there and it was possible to trace the lie of much of the pipework. My friend thought I was mad, photographing boggy fields in October but hey.

The the converse is also true. The ‘obvious’ thing would be for the utilities to follow the lie of the main road but they don’t, because the road in question had virtually no houses on it when the pipes were laid and the most direct route was not along the road but through the field about 50 yards north. The water board have been known to dig up the road looking for pipes which weren’t there... Knowing the history of the development of the place helps you understand where things are and why they are where they are, and you never know when that might be useful - in another context it finally persuaded the council that the street lamp was their responsibility!

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