Roadside water pump

Thatcham roadside pumps

There are a number of pumps dotted around Thatcham and I am often asked about them at history talks. This is a write up of my understanding of the roadside pumps along the A4, I am aware there are other pumps around, in gardens for example. In 1763 people in the Colnbrook area complained about the dust from the road, the Turnpike presumably. A water cart was made in order to ‘water the town of Colnbrook’, there were no references to pumps. In 1767 an article in the Reading Mercury implies that London then was just introducing pumps. So those along the Thatcham/Newbury stretch of the Turnpike/A4 it would seem would be late 18th century (or early 19th century). Dates vary on this next bit but by 1908 tar spraying was in force in the area and water pumps became unnecessary. However in 1909 the Berkshire surveyor reported 31 wells on A4 were still in use, I do not know which ones specifically.

The map above shows the (approximate) location of the pumps I have been able to identify locations of through various maps and other records, photographs are shown below of the surviving pumps. The red markers show where a pump once stood, there is as far as I can see no trace of those pumps left and I have yet to find photographs of them. Also as far as I am aware I believe all of the surviving pumps have been lifted out at some point and not necessarily put back in their original locations.

And yes the pump on the left / west of the map was in the Thatcham boundary until boundary changes in the 20th century.

The pump at the top of the Broadway is a different design from the others and would likely have been the village/town pump. Some local sources say the pump was supplied to the Thatcham Guardians from Hedges Foundry in Bucklebury in the 1870s. However there is, I believe, a a stamp of Edwards and Godding Ltd, Newbury on the pump. I have not yet investigated this further, did one design it and the other manufacture it?


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