Normanby's first Water Supply (1907)
By Isabel McLean
In August 1906 a committee appointed by Normanby Parish Meeting assembled in the school room to discuss how best to replace the ancient system of carrying water for domestic purposes from the River Seven by bucket. Most villagers went to the river through the churchyard. According to George Hornby (born in Normanby in 1917) the water for drinking would be allowed to settle and then might be boiled. On Sunday evenings, in readiness for washday, the men of the village collected water for the women; they used a cobbled path on the southern boundary of Pasture House which led to steps in the river bank, and another path down the side of today's Halcyon Reach.
Led by the rector, the Reverend E H M Jackson, the committee's main concern was to avoid the expense of becoming ratepayers to the Kirkbymoorside Rural District Council in "a general water supply system for all the backside villages below Rosedale." Over the next ten months subscriptions were sought from local farmers and worthies (Lord Feversham promised £5) and these amounted to £45-19s-6d. The eventual cost of the scheme was to be £45-6s-0d.
The project depended on the spring above the village. This allowed water to run under gravity from Normanby Hill to the village street. William Wood of Normanby Hill Farm already had a cistern which took in the spring water but he agreed in December 1906 to permit the water overflowing from the cistern to be piped through his land to a reservoir which would be built at the top of the rector's paddock. From there pipes would convey the water "down the hedge side of the rectory garden and Mr Wood's drive to the village street, to a standpipe to be erected opposite the two houses known as West View and Rose Cottage." Wood's drive was, of course, today's driveway to Normanby Hill Farm. The standpipe was close to the school.
The concrete reservoir measured 10 feet x 6 feet x 6 feet and could hold 2000 gallons. William Gamble charged £17-13s-8d to build it but the committee expected to get the necessary sand and gravel gratis with landowners' permission. The sand would come from the river "near one of Mr Strickland's fields" (ie near Lance Butts Farm) and the gravel from the river at Sinnington. Farmers were asked to "lead" these materials for free. This was a community pulling together.
Early May saw the arrival of the "well fountain" (a fancy name for a standpipe which delivered water from a surface spring, "well" being the local word for a spring). Given the period, it was probably a lion's head pillar - such as can still be seen at Gillamoor. On 27th May the committee decided that they "should open the waterworks, which were now completed so far as to allow the water to be turned on at the first stand post which they had been able to erect." The rector suggested a religious ceremony, in view of "the great benefit which would be conferred on the inhabitants by the provision of this water supply", to be followed by tea and entertainment for all the villagers at the rectory.
For the occasion the Reverend Jackson wrote an order of service which has fortunately survived. On Saturday 1st June 1907 the water committee was to stand near "the Pillar Well" and the rector would read the lesson from Isaiah chapter 41:
"When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them…I will open fountains in the midst of the valleys."
Then William Wood "turning the Stop-cock, to signify his gift of the water, shall present the key to the Rector." After several prayers the rector's wife was to "place her hand upon the handle of the Fountain, and turning it, say 'Spring up, O well…for the satisfying of the needs of the inhabitants of this village, both now and in the time to come.'"
Nearly a year later, on 4th April 1908, the Malton Messenger quoted the rector's opinion that the scheme had saved the village ratepayers between one and two thousand pounds (but over what period of time?) since they would otherwise have been included in any general water scheme for the district. Apart from this, it can be said that Normanby was fortunate in having the interest of Dr Thomas Walsh Tetley, the Kirkbymoorside Medical Officer of Health who lived at Hob Ground. He was currently busy having Joseph Foord's open water races to Kirkbymoorside, Nawton, Beadlam and other villages replaced by piped systems. He was a stickler for the quality of water sourced for human consumption. We can be sure that he and the Rural District Council, acting under the Public Health Act of 1878, had checked out Normanby Hill Spring. However, keeping livestock away from the spring might have posed problems over time.
It is not clear whether more than one standpipe or "fountain" was set up in 1907. In the 1990s George Hornby told Clare Wallis that during the 1930s three standpipes were laid in the village: one by the chapel, one opposite Willow House (ie where the 1907 pillar fountain stood) and one opposite the church (ie next to John and Pat Dickinson's house today); certainly elderly inhabitants now recall three in the past. (A fourth standpipe was on the opposite side of the road to the present day BT Telephone box serving the north end of the village.)
Bernard Frank also has a record of a ten-foot standpipe near the bridge, used for filling traction engines. (See Photograph of Railway Engine derailment at Barn Farm). There was also a well of 6ft diameter which was some 8ft from the back door of the village shop. Tom and Dot Sleightholme used it regular in the early 50's. It was filled in when the row of cottages were demolished.
Order of Service
Notes on the water supply
Normanby water supply minute book 1906-08, North Yorkshire Record Office, PR/NOR 12, microfilm 2635.
Order of service, 'Dedication of Normanby Village Water Supply' Sat 1st June 1907, in the hands of Alan Smith.
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