Hadleigh Heritage: All's well that ends well

AGES AHA Project exploring for wells in the area

AGES / Hadleigh Heritage
AGES / Hadleigh Heritage
Water sources displayed with pin-point accuracy
AGES / Hadleigh Heritage
South Benfleet Water Tower around 1912

The Wells of Hadleigh and Daws Heath was the title of Terry Barclay’s presentation on Saturday 25th March 2023 at St James the Less in the Hadleigh Heritage series of talks.

Terry demonstrated  the large number of wells that have been discovered in this area with reference to a detailed map down to the individual residences in the area.

The project information was shown within the context of some residents at the end of the 19th Century having no direct access to a water supply.

Many people bought water from those with wells at the princely sum of a ha’penny for a pail.
(This was the price in Leigh-on-Sea and likely to be standard.)

Despite limited supplies of often poor quality water, there was local reluctance to use water piped in from elsewhere.

Now that many wells have been capped and are largely invisible; it is always a surprise for property owners when extending or changing the layout of properties to discover a previously unknown well under their patio.

Even after WW2, people relocating into the area found that poorly secured wells were a hazard for unwary children.

When invited to evaluate a resident’s garden, AGES deployed a happy combination of resources  linking results  from dowsing, through metal detecting to advanced Geo-Phys equipment.

The excavation work done in the project: “All’s well that ends well” could not only confirm the presence of a well but has also demonstrated in capped but still active well systems that underground streams of water still exist through the clay under our gardens.

There was fascinating information about the process used to initially create a well by digging out using a wooden former and lining with brick.

Risks were mitigated locally by most wells being only three yards (roughly three metres) deep.

The pictures are of a couple of the slides, the advert for the talk and an exciting map of the contours of the area and its relationship to water flows.

The view of the water tower in Benfleet Road is one familiar from much of Hadleigh.

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