A village of health giving waters!

Hilary Roadley

Fountain on The (Swan) Green 2014 | (Griffin)
Fountain on The (Swan) Green opposite 44 Royston Rd. 2014
(Griffin)

“Do the people of Cambridge realise they have a spa within walking distance of their town? I refer of course to the wonderful little village of Harston, with its health giving waters” (1929 newspaper).

Miss Ashby (1884- 1978) of Church St wrote ‘In the days before the village was supplied with water by the Water Company (1936), Harston was well known for its very good supply of spring water. There were in the village 10 fountains. Beautiful soft water was flowing from these springs continually, day and night, winter and summer. There were pumps and wells, public and otherwise in the village but the water from these was very hard. Hence some parishioners had to walk quite a distance to get soft water. The fountains were as follows: Harston Mill, The Manor, The Vicarage, Button End (piped to supply coprolite workers), Fountain Farm Church St, Harston House, the public fountain opposite the Pemberton Arms, Lincoln House (next to Ducati) & Park House.

Later Dr Young in the High St (near PO) had a fountain bored and generously had it piped to the wall of his garden by the ditch so giving a supply of soft water to that immediate neighbourhood. Still later Sir Graham Greene had a fountain in the garden of ‘Camping Close House’ (46 Royston Rd) and he also piped soft water to the Green (1921). About that time a pipe was laid from the Vicarage garden to Haslingfield Road corner, thus giving a supply to that neighbourhood.’

A 1903 survey of Harston school stated that ‘There is a pump in the Master’s garden; the water supply is unfit for drinking. Drinking water is carried from public supply about 300 yards distant.’ Maybe having a cesspit in the garden, adjacent to the school boundary had an effect!

Kath Rayner remembers the pump at the High St end of Manor Close in 1930s. The water would overflow into the ditches that ran along the High St (most now piped in and covered over). At one time railings were put up to stop people falling into the ditches of water. Kath also had to get water from the pump on the Memorial Green by the Pemberton Arms to use in school ‘laundry’ lessons!

Bill Hays (1920-2014) recalled when people relied on the artesian wells and several stand pipes around the village, from which they carried water home. Bill’s father had a 220 foot deep well dug in the front garden of Baggot Hall Farm which overflowed into a fountain, and water was pumped from there to the cattleyard. Before refrigeration, Bill recalled putting milk and butter into the fountain to keep it cool.

For years many springs and fountains had been dry but started flowing again, occurring it is thought, when Barrington Cement closed and stopped taking water. Springs are still flowing today on the Green, on lawn of Harston House, on front lawn of ‘Camping Close House’ next to the Queen’s Head and Fountain Cottage in Church Street. Many other wells and pumps were shown on 1901 map. Please let us know where these still exist.

This page was added on 01/11/2018.

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