Posted by Captain Everett on June 11, 1998 at 21:58:49:
In response to This time a question on sources of water..., written by Peg on June 11, 1998 at 13:37:02
] IWhat did the people in London do for water? [snip]
There are some brief passages in Dan Cruickshank and Neil Burton's, Life in the Georgian City. They state that the the most commmon means of supply was the public conduit or fountain, often erected over a spring or stream at the sxpense of a private benefactor. From here water could be taken away in jugs. Many of the names of the streets reflect this: Conduit Street, White Conduit Street, Lamb's Conduit Street, and Sadler's Wells.
Another free source was rain water. Many homes collected it in a butt or tank in the front "area" [The sunken space at the front of the house giving access, air and light to the basement, and enclosed at ground level by railings.] A very substantial number of the town residences had a well in the basement or backyard. This was most prevelent south of the Thames. However, these wells could run dry, and could be pollluted by seepage from the cesspools.
For a small fee, water was available from the carts of the water-carriers. However, the most convenient method would be to have it pumped into the house. By the first decades of the century there were eight private water companies in London. Most of the earlier supplies relied upon gravity, but from the 1760's the New River Company was using a steam pump. The water travelled through pipes made of hollowed elm trunks,with connections to the house via "quills" (smaller pipes) in exchange for fee.
In the 1760's the New River Company kept the main "charged" for seven hours on three days a week; Oxford and Portland Street mains were filled for fifteen and six hours a week respectively. The Grosvenor main, serving the richest private homes was charged evry day for a total of 24 hrs/week.
From the cistern a supply could be pumped to a higher level (eg a roof tank). Records are scarce, but it seems most of the homes in the West End had piped water, as well as quite a few in the City. The West End also had the advantage of being served by several different companies. Some even took advantage of connections with multiple companies.
The old wooden main pipes were sleeve jointed, and not always watertight. Also many could not withstand the pressure of steam pumped water. Thus, the pressure had to be restricted (which precluded pumping it above ground level). Leekage also played havoc with the streets and pavements.
I remain, etc.
- Water! John W 02:42:02 6/12/98 (0)
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