Wold Newton sits in a dry valley of the Lincolnshire Wolds. The chalk bedrock is covered, in part, by clay but also by permeable sand and gravel. It is possible that there might have been a seasonal stream along the valley bottom but, if so, there is no evidence of that today beyond a drainage ditch, now culverted, running through what used to be the horse fields in the North Farm, parallel and to the east of the road to East Ravendale. Even so, it is unlikely to have provided a regular source sufficient to sustain a permanent settlement.
The nearest running water is 2.5 miles away in the beck which flows through Swinhope and Thorganby and, whilst there are people today who have to walk far further than that to find water, one imagines that those who first settled here would have looked at other options. Without running water, there are two choices; collect rain water or dig for ground water. In Wold Newton, people did both. Although we have no way of knowing exactly how they went about it throughout the history of the village, a remarkable amount of evidence remains as to what they did in Victorian times and in the early decades of the 20th century.
A well was recently uncovered in the garden of Shepherd's Cottage. It is unpleasantly close to the cottage's cess pit, which probably dates to the mid 20th century, so it presumably pre-dates that. There were pumps at various places, presumably over other wells.
Several of the houses have underground rain water storage tanks, including the Roost, Garthman's Cottage, the Manor, the Manor stables, Glebe Cottage and the Rectory. They are generally cylindrical brick built tanks lined with mortar about a yard wide and 3 yrds deep but the Rectory has a splendid brick vaulted affair of grander dimensions. Glebe Cottage and the Rectory both have galvanised tanks in the roof to which the water was hand pumped from the underground tanks. As both of these houses were built in the 1930s, this means of storing water must have continued well into the 20th century. Similarly, the Manor has a tank in the roof next to one of the maids' bedrooms to which water was pumped from the rain water tank outside the kitchen.
The Rectory also had its own borehole, housed in the shed which now serves as a home for chickens.
In 1910 William Wright, under protest, and after much bullying from Matthew Addison, was eventually persuaded to install the first piped water supply to the village in 1910 as a condition of his sons taking on the tenancies of the farms, an indicator of the balance of power at the time between landowners and tenant farmer. A borehole was sunk that year by Smith Well Drillers from Waltham. The brick shed which housed it is still in the field (Pump Close) just to the south of Keys Cottage. From the borehole, the water was pumped up to the reservoir at the top of the grass field on the other side of the road and then returned to the village by gravity. It was originally a J Wallis Titt wind pump but was latterly powered by electricity. Pipes were installed to the farms, the Grange and the Manor, and stand-pipes along the village street, one of which can be seen in the photograph of the old Parsonage, standing in the street outside the Chapel.
Even this more reliable system was at risk of running out in periods of prolonged still weather. Water was only put into the cottages with the installation of indoor lavatories and baths with the aid of council grants in the 1950's. The water system was eventually sold to the Cleethorpes and District Water Board, which may have installed electricity to make the supply more reliable.
The borehole profile is attached below.
To supply the livestock in the fields, a second J Wallis Titt wind pump took the water up to a smaller reservoir in what is now Martin's Wood. On the other side of the road, a small reservoir at the back of the Top Barn which collected rain water from its roof supplied a trough there for the cattle wintered up at the Yard. It was Ray Winfarrah's first job, to walk up the hill of a morning ("through drifts 'n' all") and hand-pump the water from the bunker into the trough; the pump still hangs inside the barn. Otherwise the only water in the grass fields on the west side of the road is in the pond by the roadside. George Dale got George Lammiman to dig out the pond further into the field, using a Fergie tractor and a fore-end loader, to make a more reliable drinking supply before the field troughs were installed, being supplied from the farm main. It was time well-spent, it still being the only source of water for stock in the prolonged freeze of 2010, when ice up to eight inches thick was broken to find water for the cattle, the farm supply having frozen up.
To be able to take water supply for granted in the western world is a recent luxury. Within living memory, a fight has broken out between residents of Wold Newton and Hawerby sparked by the latter coming over the hill to help themselves to Wold Newton water when their own supplies had dried up. In a dry spell in 1907, the squire, William Maurice Wright, noted in his diary with anxiety that the level of water in the Manor water tank was down to only 4 inches. When he built the current stables in 1912, although by then the village water sytem had been installed, he put in another tank to catch the water from off the stable's roof.
The first 'mains' water came to the village in the 1970's following a tractor fire at North Farm in one of the barns, as the Fire Brigade complained that when they arrived to deal with the fire, they found insufficient pressure/supply for their pumps to function properly, and so mains water with hydrants was installed.
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