The Patshull estate has existed for over a millennia, and many changes have befallen the estate throughout the centuries.  Have you ever wondered how the estate was supplied with water before the modern water infrastructure? Here we guide you through the secret underground waterways that supplied the Patshull House, farm buildings and local dwellings.

Taken from The Wondering Worfe by D.H. Robinson in 1982, he goes on to say…

“To the east of the hall is an area of considerable interest called High Park and across the road to the east is Wrottesley Old Park, marked on some old OS maps as the supposed sight of a British town. The ground rises to a height of 500 feet, somewhat higher than Upper Pepperhill.  In High Park there are several very pretty pools, and adjacent to one of them there was situated a watermill of great antiquity which, in the Domesday survey, was valued at 12 pence.  The OS map of about 1830 sites a mill here and we know that Sir George Pigot used a water wheel to thrash his corn during the early part of the 19th century, so it is possible that the same wheel supplied power for both grinding and threshing. Because of its elevated position and the abundance of springs of good water, High Park was developed, about 1880, into a waterworks supplying almost all of Patshull estate with domestic water. The system was based upon the hydraulic ram, the principle of which is described below. In the setup at High Park no fewer than five powerful hydraulic rams are involved and, although the installation is no longer in use, it is so unusually large that a description seems worthwhile.”

Where does Patshull Park’s water system originate?

Diagram of Patshull’s water system

“The system originates in a small pool hidden in the depths of a wood at High Park not far from the Pattingham to Summer House Inn Road.

The pool, known as Hawk’s Well, Is a small one situated at the base of a man-made quarry cut in sandstone rock. The west facing wall is perpendicular, about 15 feet high, and much fissured: from this cliff there gushes several springs giving rise to the shallow pool of clear water. from a collection chamber and pipe conduct water to a settling tank 150 yards away.

It is divided internally into three compartments, each with an overflow pipe into the second pool. A fourth, collecting chamber, has within it the inlet to three cast iron pipes. These pipes are in a steeply sloping underground brick tunnel 25 yards long. At the end of this conduit is a circular chamber having a domed roof. On the floor of this chamber situated in a straight line 3 large rams, each one connected to its own cast iron pipe. The Rams are of slightly varying capacities: one of them was supplied in 1929, and the other two in 1931. They are replacements of earlier models.

Access to the chamber, which is below ground level, is down a flight of nine stone steps built within a small compound, one wall of which forms part of a retaining wall of yet another pool. At the base of this well is another tunnel or conduit, fashioned of exquisite brickwork. Two cast iron pipes lie at the base of the conduit, which terminates in another well.  Each pipe connects with a ram, rather larger than those already mentioned.”

“These hydraulic rams lifted water to a reservoir placed close to the Dower House. From here water gravitated through a main constructed of lead pipes of 6 inch diameter to Patshull Hall over a mile away, to several farms and private dwellings, and to the school at Burnhill Green.

The system operated for many years and was good discontinued as recently as 1965 when a new mains water system was installed. It is most frustrating that no plans and no account of exactly when and how the system was installed, can be found. The installation must have been one of the largest ever undertaken by a country estate during the boom in hydraulic rams towards the end of the 19th century.

Drinking water was supplied separately to Patshull Hall from a Spring and well situated on the 400 foot contour in a field to the right of a farm road leading to The Medleys farm: this supply was also taken to Pasford Farm.”

What other forms of water storage existed on the Patshull estate?

“A cylindrical icehouse, partially sunk into the ground and having a thatched roof, formally existed at the southern corner of the walled garden at Patshull. It was in use until about the first decade of the 20th century, but has since been demolished.”

Interested in more Patshull history blogs?

We hope that you’re as interested in the history of Patshull Park as we are, and we love to share the information that we learn.  There are new findings coming up all the time and we’re always excited to write about what we know.  Here are some more blog posts that we’ve written.  Check out our History page too!