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A History of Water in Chester

There is abundant evidence that Chester has enjoyed some sort of public water supply for centuries, indeed, pieces of Roman lead water pipes have been recovered from the streets of Chester. One specimen which can be seen in the Grosvenor Museum bears a Latin inscription which translated reads:

'This lead pipe was made when Vespasian and Titus were Consuls for the ninth and seventh times respectively and when Cnaeus Julius Agricola was Governor of Britain' Julius Agricola was Governor of Britain from A.D. 78-86.

Earthenware pipes believed to be of mediaeval manufacture have also been recovered together with wooden water pipes hollowed from tree trunks.

Some historians believe that about the year 1300 water was taken from a spring at Christleton known as the 'Abbot's Well' and conveyed by earthenware pipes installed by monks under a patent granted by Edward the First, to cisterns situated at Boughton and in the cloisters of the Monastery (now the Cathedral).

It is recorded that in 1537 a Doctor Wall began the building of Conduits at Boughton for conveying water to the Bridge Gate, and in 1582 the alteration to the Conduit began for bringing the water to the High Cross in the centre of the City.

Boughton Works

In the year 1600 the Mayor and Citizens, granted to one John Tyrer the right to raise water from the Dee at the Bridge Gate, erect a tower upon the Gate, install a cistern, engines or other instruments for raising water and to open streets and lay pipes.

Later in 1622, by grant from the Mayor and Citizens of the City, John Tyrer undertook to build waterworks at Spital, Boughton, the site of the present River Dee Water Treatment Works and in 1632 he conveyed the Waterworks at the Bridge Gate and Boughton to Sir Randle Mainwaring and others. Some years later the Waterworks fell into decay.

In 1692 the Mayor and Citizens granted to John Hopkins of Birmingham and John Hadley of Worcester the right to make new Works at the Bridge Gate for raising water from the River Dee.

In 1698 these two gentlemen conveyed the Works to John Williams and others, by whom, and by those claiming under them, the Undertaking was carried on until the first water company with statutory powers was formed in 1826 and the Intake removed to Barrel Well Hill near Boughton Church.

The Company was re-constituted by the Act of 1857 and another Intake constructed about a mile and a half above the City on the West side of the Dee. Further Acts of Parliament and Water Orders were obtained between the years 1874 and 1959.

It will be seen from the above that the Company derives, independently of its Parliamentary Title, a Title under the Grants acquired by purchase from its predecessors.

The image below is an invitation from the director of Chester Waterworks Company, Mr T Gibbons Frost, to the inauguration of the 'New Filtered Water Reservoir' at the Boughton Works, Chester on Friday 18th June 1937.

Followed later in the afternoon by the opening of the Overleigh Water Tower.