Ogbourne St Andrew Parish History Group

        Ogbourne St Andrew, Maisey & Rockley
Go to content

Main menu:

Water and wells

Parish > Water and Wells

These days a supply of fresh water is taken for granted, however it was only in the middle of the last century that piped water became available in this village.  Before 1955 villagers were largely dependent upon a series of shared local wells, which fluctuated seasonally and often ran dry at the height of Summer.  We have it on record that when that happened the youngsters were sent to the stables in Maisey (or Poughcombe Farm) to beg  for water which was supplied from boreholes.  In the course of research an interesting tale of the Ogbourne valley water supply has been uncovered.

In Roman times the Og was navigable to shallow draught boats; in the 11thC there was a very profitable water mill here; until the 16thC water mills are mentioned; by the 17thC windmills had taken over.  The Og was drying up!  By the early 20thC the abstraction of water for Swindon and the Army camp at Chiseldon had an even greater impact and it was clear that piped water was a necessity.

On January 26th 1927 a report was sent to H. J. F. Gourley, a consulting civil engineer (later to become President of the Institution of Civil Engineers), on the level of nine wells in St Andrew taken in 1917 and 1927.  It was noted that wells had been deepened but still were running dry.  In 1929 the situation was so serious that an agreement between the Rural District Council, Swindon Town and the War Department was struck to pipe water to the Ogbournes.  However the wheels of Government move slowly, especially when a major war intervenes.

By late 1945 a strong letter from Ogbourne St George with 26 signatures was delivered demanding action and in 1947 a Ratepayers Revolt was threatened: "No Water – No Rates".  Eventually in 1950 a pipe was laid from Whitefield reservoir down the Og valley and the first few houses were connected.  It was still several years before it reached St Andrew!

The papers in the Chippenham History Centre reveal the engineering problems (a broken pipe on first trials; difficulty with the road surface on what is now the A346 through the village, although "1inch of tarmac solved the problem".)  Sixty years later we still suffer from the latter problem!  Also the excavations caused some grief to residents with one claim for a damaged cycle wheel being summarily dismissed as a trivial matter. Bureaucracy triumphs over the common man every time!

In October 2017, sixty seven years after the initial pipeline was laid, Thames Water are replacing the 4" main from Wetpit, through the village to the War Memorial, then along the A346 to the Rockley Road and into Maisey.  Twelve weeks of traffic controls in a very differnt world to that of 1950!

January 2021
copyright Ogbourne St Andrew History Group 2021
Back to content | Back to main menu