Water in Chaldon: springs, water carts, ponds and pipes

The second Spring Talk 2019 was on Saturday 30th March in Chaldon Village Hall.

Water in Chaldon: springs, water carts, ponds and pipes
Looking at the history of water provision in the village; how water was carried up White Hill from the springs at the bottom, where the twenty five ponds were in the village, including the important one funded by the LeGrew family, and the historical development of the local water company.
It was presented by Liz Bonsall with material from Gwyneth Fookes who had surveyed and photographed ponds in the whole of Tandridge District in 1996.

Water had been a difficulty for Chaldon, as it is sat on top of a chalk hill and ponds, natural and man made, were apt to dry up in droughts. Before piped water, Chaldon was farms and a few cottages, and the only new houses built were those able to dig deep enough wells to provide an adequate supply of water, or it had to be brought in by water cart.

The talk included maps of the Parish and photographs of the remains of some of the forgotten ponds. The farms in the village each had two ponds, for people and animals, and the pond on Rook Lane was probably a travellers pond, where horses drank (the period equivalent of cars filling up with petrol at a petrol station). A watercolour drawing by Hassell from 1823 of Chaldon Workhouse / Beggars Lodge on Chaldon Common shows a pond in front of it, evidence for which is also clear from an early map.

Some houses in Chaldon had wells or underground water storage tanks filled by rainwater from the roof. Piped water eventually came to the village from the Caterham Spring Water Company founded by George Drew, a solicitor from London who owned much land in Caterham, at the time when the coming of the railway meant that new houses were being built in the valley. He spotted the business opportunity this gave for providing water to the new community. The first Caterham Waterworks were on Stanstead Road, shown in an engraving from 1862.

Nearly forty people attended the talk and display of maps provided by Liz to browse afterwards. The proceeds (after costs) were given to the Friends of Chaldon Church, for the upkeep and repair of the historic church building.