The Dale


boundary stones


water troughs/ pumps


war memorial


village sign



water troughs and pumps
Wellhead.jpg (10473 bytes)


Wellheaddraw.jpg (50854 bytes)

Wellhead, water pump and trough, Corby Road

Cottingham is fed by spring water which seeps down through the limestone to emerge in wells and springs around the village. Even today, water trickles across the aptly named 'Water Lane' from nearby springs.


In 1854, the village Copyholders provided a water supply for the village utilising the spring above Water Lane which gave a reliable flow of fresh water. A pump and water trough was installed in the centre of the village, above which was installed a stone tablet commemorating the event. The words and numbers on the stone (pictured below), were originally made of lead pegged into the stone and read 'Erected by the Copyholders, 1854, William Thorpe, John Spriggs, Bailiffs'. There were a number of other pumps installed, and an iron trough placed below an outlet pipe in the churchyard wall, to collect the overflow.





The earliest record of payments collected from villagers by the Copyholders is dated 1884, when the price charged for each tap installed was 1 shilling. That year, 12  households in Cottingham and nine in Middleton made payments. The only houses which could benefit from the supply were those situated where there was sufficient head of water to make a reasonable flow when the tap was turned on. The remainder of the villagers had to be content with water from the many wells in the village.


The 1890 Kelly's Directory refers to the water supply saying: "A supply of excellent water from springs adjacent to the village is carried throughout Cottingham and the adjoining township of Middleton in iron pipes with drinking fountains at intervals. The pipes were laid back at the expense of the Copyholders in 1854."

In 1919, the copyholders borrowed money in order to put in new galvanised pipes to improve the system, and after this was completed the charge per tap was increased from 1 shilling to 5 shillings. A transcript of the minutes of the Copyholders' meeting where these improvements were agreed are attached.

In 1923, when the Millfield estate was built, a deep well was sunk in an attempt to provide water for the houses but none was forthcoming.  The well was deepened further and a hand-operated machine was installed, consisting of an endless belt of cups to collect water and bring it to the surface, but the scheme was soon abandoned, and a farmer used to take a water cart up to estate each day.

By 1934 a small number of water closets were operated from Copyholders’ supply. In 1937, money collected for the use of water was a total £10 for Cottingham and £8 for Middleton. 

In his book 'The King's England, Northamptonshire' (1945) Arthur Mee says: "a primitive water supply still carries spring water through the village in iron pipes, with drinking fountains at intervals."


David Dodd, who lived on Frog Island, Rockingham Road in the 1940s recalls: "Water had to be fetched in buckets from a hand operated pump situated about 20 yards down the garden. Sometimes in winter the pump would freeze up, refusing all efforts to thaw it out. Then it meant a trip to the pump at the 'Cross' and an arduous climb back up the hill to Frogs Island. Bath-time was quite a performance. A galvanised bath was placed on the floor in front of the fire and hot water ladled from the 'copper' in the scullery into the bath with cold water added as necessary. The grown-ups had to wait their turn until the children were in bed, using a larger bath-tub."


There are still two water troughs in Church Street. However, the wellhead, pump and wooden trough that used to stand in the centre of the village on the corner of Corby Road and Rockingham Road 'The Cross') were dismantled in the 1960s. 


Mains water was installed in the village in 1957.



With thanks to Colin Bradshaw and Michael Curtis for providing the Copyholder information.

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